Summary: The church does not exist to make us comfortable. We are under obligation to cater to the needs of those who are less mature.
It’s About the Kingdom
Max Lucado in his book A Gentle Thunder, tells a story about a man who encountered
another man carrying a Bible. “Are you a believer?” “Yes,” he said excitedly. I've learned that you can't be too careful who you fellowship with, so I began to ask him some questions. “Do you believe in the virgin birth?” “I do.” “Do you believe in the deity of Christ?” “No doubt.” Could it be that I was face-to-face with a real Christian brother? Nonetheless, I continued my checklist. “Do you believe in the return of Christ?” “I believe it is imminent.” “What about the Bible?” “It is inspired,” was his immediate answer. I was getting excited. “Are you a conservative or a liberal?”
He was getting interested in me, too. “I'm a conservative.” I asked him as my heart began to beat faster, “What denomination are you a part of?” He said, “I am a member of the Southern Congregationalist Holy Son of God Dispensationalist Triune Convention.” I was excited, because that was my denomination. I asked him,
“Which branch of that denomination are you?” He said, “I'm a part of the pre-millennial, post-tribulation, non-charismatic, King James, one-cup communion branch.” My eyes misted over. That was my branch as well. I had only one other question. “Is your pulpit wooden or Plexiglas?” “Plexiglas,” he replied.
I recoiled in horror. “Get away from me, you heretic,”
Is that what God is all about?
Is that what being a follower of Jesus is all about?
Someone asked the experts about what kind of church is going to be most effective today. Listen to some of the answers: The church must be more missional, more contemporary, more media savvy, more emerging, more social-justice focused, more seeker sensitive, more liturgical. We have been told that the church of the future will be multisite, small and organic, simple, large, conservative, liberal, postmodern, ancient-future, Celtic, cellular, neomonastic and incarnational.
I’ve got to tell you, about half of those words didn’t make it through spell check
on my computer. And before you complain about the big words, I didn’t understand what they meant either. In other words, I don’t know what the experts are trying to tell us. But, when I turn to God’s Word, I don’t have that problem.
Look beginning in Romans 15:1ff.
1. Under Obligation
Paul starts by saying for those of us who are mature Christians. He is speaking to those who are trained in righteousness. Then he uses a very interesting word. In the NASB it is rendered “ought.” But the Greek word is better interpreted as “under obligation.” For those of us who are mature, trained in righteousness, we are under obligation to bear the weaknesses of those who are not mature. The word bear means to literally carry. For those of us who are mature, trained in righteousness, we are under obligation to bear the weaknesses of those who are mature. And it doesn’t mean just a few of us. It means everybody among the mature. Our focus, which is the focus of the “Kingdom of God,” is not to please ourselves. We are obligated by God Himself to build up those who are not as far along in the Christian journey as we are.