Bearing With One Another
Allan Bloom writes: "Openness - and the relativism that makes it the only plausible stance in the face of various claims to truth and various ways of life and kinds of human beings -- is the great insight of our times. The true believer is the real danger. The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all."
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 84.
As Dorothy Sayers observed, "In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die."
Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 93.
Let us be on our guard against this feeling. it is only too near the surface of all our hearts. Let us study to realize that liberal tolerant spirit which Jesus here recommends and be thankful for good works wheresoever and by whomsoever done. Let us beware of the slightest inclination to stop and check others meekly because they do not choose to adopt our plans or work by our side. We may think our fellow-Christians mistaken in some points. We may fancy that more would be done for Christ if they would join us and if all worked in the same way. We may see many evils arising from religious dissensions and divisions. But all this must not prevent us rejoicing if the works of the devil are destroyed and souls saved. Is our neighbor warring against Satan? Is he really trying to labor for Christ? This is the grand question. Better a thousand times that the work should be done by other hands than not done at all. Happy is he who knows something of the spirit of Moses, when he said, "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets," and of Paul, when he says, "If Christ is preached, I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice" (Num 11:29; Phil 1:18).
J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, St Mark, Cambridge: James Clarke, 1973, p. 190-91.
Gibbon...said that in Roman society all religions were to the people equally true, to the philosophers equally false, and to the government equally useful. It would be difficult to deny that this is true of some of today's "developed" societies...Tolerance with respect to what is not important is easy.
Lesslie Newbigin, Foolishness to the Greeks.
According to a traditional Hebrew story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw an old man, weary from age and journey, coming toward him. Abraham rushed out, greeted him, and then invited him into his tent. There he washed the old man's feet and gave him food and drink. The old man immediately began eating without saying any prayer or blessing. So Abraham asked him, "Don't you worship God?"
The old traveler replied, "I worship fire only and reverence no other god."
When he heard this, Abraham became incensed, grabbed the old man by the shoulders, and threw him out his his tent into the cold night air.
When the old man had departed, God called to his friend Abraham and asked where the stranger was. Abraham replied, "I forced him out because he did not worship you."
God answered, "I have suffered him these eighty years although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him one night?"
Tolerance can be exercised only by those who have well-grounded convictions...Those who have no such convictions, but who espouse polite doubt, agnosticism, skepticism, or downright nihilism, can only be indifferent, not tolerant. The two are by no means the same, and history has demonstrated the intolerance of those who clam that truth either does not exist or is humanly unattainable.
Evangelical Newsletter, Oct 30, 1981, v.8, #22, from the "Portland Declaration".
"CHALLENGES A CONGREGATION MUST MEET"
1. As a congregation grows, it is likely to face various challenges...
a. The devil would certainly love to hinder us in our work - e.g.,
1 Th 2:18
b. How he does this may not always be evident, as he is a great
deceiver - 2 Co 11:3
-- Through simple and seemingly harmless diversions, the devil can
lead us astray
2. We must therefore take up the admonition to "Hold fast..." - Re 3:11
a. Accepting any challenges the devil might throw our way
b. Knowing that our efforts to be "steadfast" are not for naught
- 1 Co 15:58
[In this study we will look at some challenges that any congregation
must meet to serve the Lord faithfully...]
I. WE MUST REMEMBER WHAT OUR WORK IS
A. TO EQUIP THE SAINTS FOR MINISTRY (EDIFICATION)...
1. We are to provide for the spiritual growth of each member
- Ep 4:11-12
2. This is how the body continues to grow - Ep 4:15-16
3 Thus we are to provoke one another to love and good works, the
very reason we are to assemble together - He 10:24-25
-- Is each one of us doing what we can to help other Christians
B. TO SOUND FORTH THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST (EVANGELISM)...
1. Like the church at Thessalonica - 1 Th 1:8
2. Through individual and collective efforts, we must "sow the
3. As our building fills, it becomes tempting to slack off, but
we must either expand or swarm (have some leave to start
-- Is each one of us doing what we can to spread the gospel?
C. TO PROVIDE FOR NEEDY SAINTS (BENEVOLENCE)...
1. The original purpose behind the collection - 1 Co 16:1-2
2. Even if there is no need locally, there may be needy saints in
-- Is each one of us doing what we can to see that needs are
[The work of the local church goes far beyond providing a place where
people can simply worship from week to week. We should be preparing
ourselves to work! Will we meet the challenge? Another challenge we
II. WE MUST LIVE ABOVE PETTINESS
A. EVEN GOOD CHURCHES CAN BE HINDERED BY PETTINESS...
1. Notice Paul's concern for the church at
Philippi- Ph 4:2-3
2. When churches loose sight of their primary purpose, they are
ripe for being torn apart by selfishness, gossip, and
B. WE MUST KEEP A PROPER SENSE OF PROPORTION...
1. It is disastrous if we begin to "major in minors", to blow
problems all out of proportion
2. We must see the largeness and importance of our work in
comparison to our own personal problems
a. Every church has its problems, for we are imperfect people
b. Remembering Paul's exhortations in Ph 2:1-5 will certainly
[What a sad thing it would be to have a congregation hindered by
pettiness. Yet so many congregations do allow it to keep them from
growing. Will we accept the challenge never to allow pettiness to so
affect us? It will be easy to meet that challenge, if at the same time
we meet another one...]
III. WE MUST MAINTAIN GRATITUDE FOR OUR BLESSINGS
A. WE HAVE MUCH FOR WHICH TO BE THANKFUL...
1. As individuals:
a. We have many physical blessings
1) Our families, friends, homes, health
2) Our freedoms, jobs
b. We have many spiritual blessings
1) Salvation in Christ, the forgiveness of sins, peace of
2) The love of God, the strength of the Holy Spirit, the
hope of heaven
2. As a congregation:
a. Free from turmoil, free to worship
b. Filled with love and unity
c. Blessed with good facilities, signs of numerical and
d. Great potential for both individual and congregational
B. WE SHOULD BE NOTED FOR OUR "ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE"...
1. Note how often Paul exhorted the Colossians to be thankful
a. Giving thanks to the Father - Co 1:12
b. Abounding with thanksgiving - Co 2:7
c. As the peace of God rules in your heart, be thankful
- Co 3:15
d. Giving thanks to God - Co 3:17
e. Be vigilant in prayer with thanksgiving - Co 4:2
2. As individuals, and as a congregation, let us never become
a. It is a step toward depravity - Ro 1:21
b. It is a sign of perilous times - 2 Ti 3:1-5
1. There are many other challenges that congregations may face...
a. Such as persecution for the cause of Christ
b. Or natural calamities that may devastate our community
2. But in most cases, even those challenges can be met and overcome if
a. Remember what our work is
b. Live above pettiness
c. Maintain gratitude for our blessings
With a will to do what the Lord desires of us, and with the "attitude
of gratitude" lifting us above any sense of pettiness that might drag
us down, let us do our part to answer the prayer of Paul:
"...to Him (God) be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all
generations, forever and ever. Amen." (Ep 3:21)
Note: The main idea and several thoughts from this lesson were taken
from a lesson by Gary Henry. The URL for his web site containing many
excellent articles and sermon outlines is: http://www.brasstacks.org