Summary: In matters of opinion the solution comes down to who will be more like Jesus.
1. Die Heretic
A man said: I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. I immediately ran over and said, "Stop! Don't jump!"
"Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" "Like what?"
"Well ... are you religious or atheist?" "Religious." "Me too! Are you Christian or Jewish?" "Christian."
"Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" "Protestant." "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" "Baptist."
"Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" "Baptist Church of God."
"Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God."
"Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" To which I said, "Die, you heretic scum!" and pushed him off.
a. One of the turn offs of some elements of Christianity is the harsh, judgmental spirit that pervades some groups.
b. Thom Rainer recently reported that the Millennials (those reaching adulthood around 2000 or being born between 1980 and 2000 + or -) are leaving churches because of worship wars. It is not that they are choosing sides over traditional or contemporary; they are leaving over the bickering and attitudes that do not reflect Jesus.
c. How many of our children have left our Fellowship over the years because of harshness -- even if the argument was correct?
d. How many potential members have left congregations because they thought that church was a peaceful place and found out there was conflict --just like- in all the other places of their lives?
e. [Preaching friend in the 70's told me that when the issue over institutions came up, he was at first on the non-institution side due to the silence of the scripture. However, he said he noticed the harsh spirit in that group and changed sides.
2. So, what do we do to handle our differences when matters matter to us?
3. Romans 14-15 give us the answer.
4. How do we deal with issues similar to this one? No clear cut scripture is given.
I. Be Respectful of One another-- (14.1-12)
A. The Strong and the Weak Have Equal Status Before God
1. Old timer Jews -- newcomer Gentiles
2. A danger toward arrogant spirit (tip off of immaturity)
3. Really strong Believers are imitators of Jesus:
a. Patient, Long-suffering
c. Teachers --
1) "God loves you just like you are, but too much to leave you there."
2) We like to make our own discoveries; strong believers guide the weak
B. Don't Quarrel Over Opinions
dialogismos; from 1260; a reasoning:--argument(1), disputing(1), dissension(1), doubts(1), motives(1), opinions(1), reasonings (2), speculations(1), thoughts(3), what ... were thinking(2).
Conclusions we come to which are based on reasoning and can lead to dissension, disputes, etc.
C. Do Not Pass Judgment on Others (10-12)
In a sailing vessel, the mate of the ship, yielding to temptation, became drunk. The captain entered in the log of the ship the record for the day: "Mate drunk today."
When the mate read this entry, he asked the captain to take it out of the record. He said that when it was read by the owners of the ship, it would cost him his job, and the captain well knew that this was his first offense. But the captain refused to change the record, and said to the mate, "This is the fact, and into the log it goes."
Some days afterward, the mate was keeping the log. After he had given the latitude and longitude, the run for the day, the wind and the sea, he made this entry: "Captain sober today."
The angry captain protested when he read the record, declaring that it would leave an altogether false impression in the minds of the owners of the vessel, as if it were an unusual thing for him to be sober. But the mate answered as the captain answered him, "This is the fact, and into the log it goes."
Many times we may say something about someone to someone and not give the whole picture or tell the whole story. Consequently, the listener doesn't get a proper picture of that person.
One of the problems that I see in Christianity and in our churches is judging one another and we often judge one another completely inaccurately. When I've heard that someone has criticized me behind my back and then it got back to me, I have thought, "If they only knew the truth" or "if they only knew my heart then they wouldn't have said those things about me."