Summary: Avoiding the things that divide us.
GETTING ALONG IN GOD’S HOUSE – 15:1-13
BEN FRANKLIN: As I look over a congregation like this I feel like he must have felt when he saw lightning and thought, ‘Oh if I could ever harness that energy’ Church could become an unstoppable army but for three things. Gideon’s army in Judges 5 was whittled down from 13,000 to 300 because of two things. Lack of faith and a lack of focus. A third we find here which is a lack of fellowship.
How do we avoid the things that can divide us. There are so many things that if we chose to we could get upset about and use as seedbeds of strife in any church.
Visitor? If you want to you can find plenty to criticize about this church or any church. If you can’t think of enough come to me and I could tell you more. You want to have fun, become a pastor. If you want to criticize somebody you could start here. None of us are perfect, that is why we came to Christ. But if you want to find a blessing you could find them all around. Depends on what you are seeking?
1917: Russian Orthodox Church bishops were having a convocation: came to a heated debate with fusing and feuding. A few doors down the street another meeting was going on. The Bulshavics were together plotting the overthrow of the Czar. Revolution- the beginning of what we now know as Communism. What was the church arguing about while the Empire was crumbling around them? Candles, were they to be 18” or 22” long.
Chuck Swindoll says that he has looked at many churches which have split and he has yet to find a church that split over what we would call an essential or a fundamental issue.
How important is it that our fellowship be strong and that we know who we are and what we are to really be about as the body of Christ.
(THREE IMPORTANT TRUTHS TO CONSIDER)
WE NEED TO COMPENSATE FOR ONE ANOTHER (1) Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. (2) Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. (3) For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ’The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me’.
(Three things we need to do for our brother or sister in Christ)
1. BEAR WITH YOUR BROTHER
a. PHILLIPS ‘We who have strong faith ought to shoulder the burdens of the doubts and qualms of others and not just to go our own sweet way.
b. Two types in the church: Weak & strong in faith.
1) Characteristic of a weak brother: infirmities, w/o strength. Failures: prone to mess up, problems are pushing them down. Bad habits are overwhelming them, instead of being of top of their problems there are constantly under them, often their behavior is disappointing to a stronger believer.
2) Characteristic of a strong brother: bear with others, self-denial and self-sacrifice Paul included himself
1 COR 9:19, 22 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible…I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
c. Idea of word ought, which in Old English is the past tense of word ‘owe’ is that we have an obligation in Christ to support, carry, and bear with those who are weaker in their faith.
Father & Son taking a walk. Child seems always distracted, off the path, walking at a different pace. Child might say, ‘Dad I have to take three steps to every one of yours. An impatient father might say things like, ‘hurry up, catch up with me, get back over here now’. A wise father slows his pace, teaches along the way, and enjoys that fact that they are together.
2. BUILD UP YOUR BROTHER 15:1-2 not just please ourselves….please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.
a. Stronger believers have the primary responsibility in the church to maintain harmony. To not seek to just please themselves.
Decide time for choir practice: Usually each person considers what works best for their schedule and says I vote for ______. A stonger believer looks at the needs of everyone and even if it is not the best time for them says I vote for ______.
b. In every relationship we have with fellow believers we need to seek how we can:
1) Put joy in their lives: for his good. Encourage them in the right directions in a manner to maintains a spirit of enthusiasm and harmony.
a) Don’t just give in to things that are bad for them and for the church to ‘please men’ but we realize that unity in the body is something Jesus put at as high priority.