There’s a ton to get to after Sunday’s message, so let me say a few things at the outset:
- This is a little longer post than normal, so I’ve tried to highlight the various sections so you can skip to things that might interest you more.
- I will be putting something this week about the President’s comments on Friday about churches and what that means for us moving forward. I will also add somethings in that post about communication we have had with our county commissioners and our state officials.
- Finally, it has been awesome seeing people at church on Sunday’s. I’m really eager each week and I don’t sleep well the night before out of anticipation. And CLF, you have responded amazing over these past weeks. Folks at church are so glad to be there! It makes it easy to be your pastor.
Let’s get on to it.
Christians in the Roman Empire:
As we study the Corinthian church it’s really interesting to read about their culture and the world they were serving. As we talked on Sunday about not taking other Christians to court, I thought I would highlight that history spoke very highly about how the Christians in the Roman Empire took to Paul’s teaching on this subject. History tells us that after Constantine declared Rome, a Christian Empire, pastors and other Christian leaders were asked to adjudicate cases on the street corner. The Roman government noticed that churches were handling minor cases so well, they asked for help in adjudicate public cases. When I see things like this, it reminds me of the fact that one reason why the Roman citizens were impacted by Christianity, was because of the chaste and moral behavior of their young adults. The Church stood out in a stark contrast to the world around them…not just in morality but in issues of law. Awesome. May we be a “city on a hill that cannot be hidden”.
How to disagree in love:
I’ve been asked quite a bit about this recently because of the many opinions in our world right now. Here’s my usual reply, which is from Jay Adams: “Love covers a multitude of sins…unless sin kicks the covers off.” My point is this: everyone has an opinion on something. It’s hard to be objective and to be honest, we are normally drawn toward videos, “facts”, articles, that fit with our own narrative. So, what I’ve tried to do is read things or see things from a completely different perspective than I might agree with, for the purpose of proving my own opinion to be true/false. When I’m talking to someone who has a different opinion than me, I do my best to remain calm, see them as someone made in the image of God, and compare what they’re saying to what my opinion is. Then, if it adds to my opinion, I thank them. If it doesn’t, I do 1 of 2 things: 1) if it’s something I can ignore and it’s harmless, I let it go or 2) if it’s something that could hurt them or someone else, I try to show them why I’m concerned. In all things, I hope that my speech is “seasoned with grace” and that I “speak the truth in love.”
Let me add something to this as well:
- If you read something that someone posted on social media and it offends you or bothers…it’s your responsibility to evaluate if you can ignore or if you need to talk to them about it (in-person). But what you can’t do…is allow their post to cause you to assume bad things about them.
- But on the flip side of this, before you post something, please be aware that others might not see things the way you do. And this is especially true in the following areas: vaccinations/no-vaccinations, medical science, schooling options (homeschool, private, or public), extreme political perspectives from either side, conspiracy theories, are just a few of the things that have landed in my office by concerned people in our church and community.
- Remember…the only thing we can speak emphatically about it…is what is clearly given to us in God’s word…no one, but God, knows the true motives of our politicians, the interworkings of the White House; or where this virus came from or how it’s transmitted…this is true about just about every area of life. And I think it would save us a lot of anxiety/worry/fear to spend more time asking: how can we glorify God, right where we are and how can we serve others by our words and actions.
- Now, with all of that said, no one wants to be the “posting police” or be uptight at our social media posts all the time. Things are going to “offend” someone or everyone…it’s the the facts. However, as I’ve stated many times, the biblical guidelines for speech, should guide our posting.
A clarification about grumbling:
Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve hit pretty hard on our hearts towards one another and about grumbling/complaining. But please hear this clearly: grumbling/complaining does not mean that we don’t discuss areas where we disagree or areas where we’re concerned about health issues or government overreach. For instance, there is nothing wrong with you visiting with a brother/sister about your concern that the government might be using this pandemic for more control. But where it gets into grumbling/complaining is that it takes you away from praying for your leaders, being active in sharing your faith, causes your heart to not trust God and fear, or you don’t care how your words/actions might effect others.
Lawsuits: is it always wrong to take a Christian to court?
As I said Sunday, there are several nuances that need to be clarified and time did not allow for that. So let me do that now.
First, the rule of 1 Corinthians 6 is that we should avoid taking other Christians to court. We should do all we can to reconcile with them. That’s clear.
But, what do you do when you’re willing, but the other Christian is not? Or what do you do when you’ve gone through meditation/arbitration as outlined in 1 Corinthians 6 and one of the parties is willing to submit to that but the other isn’t?
To understand this, we have to understand again the different “spheres” or “jurisdictions” that God has given us. Here are 4 basic spheres of life that God has given us: self, family, church, and civil/state. And the principles basically go like this: when each of these “spheres” has been involved and there’s still no justice or good outcome, then it goes to the next “sphere”. Example: let’s say 2 Christian guys make a business deal. One of them violate the contractual agreement. They try to solve it (self), but get nothing. They then appeal to the church to help. But one or both don’t agree with the outcome due to sin or possibly judgment was subjective in nature, this can be appealed in the church (and I would submit that would be best) or they can take it to civil/state government to help.
Now, where this gets really hard is in our world with different churches that may not be willing to do this or Christians attending other churches who are unwilling to do something like this. Personally, I think this is where pastors must help and work together for this type of stuff. However, I can tell you from experience that there are some “Christians” who want the church to do their dirty work and they do not want to submit to what is decided. At that point, the best option (sadly) is to go to the civil/state court.
What about abuse in the church? Since it is illegal by civil standards, the church should report that to the civil authorities because, again, notice the spheres: this person violated God’s laws/civil laws personally (self); they were found out or confessed to the church (church) who deal with a civil crime, by reporting it to the civil authorities (civil). Believe me when I tell you, churches have not handled this well at times and it’s not only costly to them, but it doesn’t allow for justice to given to the criminal nor help to be given to the victim.
To be clear as well, 1 Corinthians 6 does not mention suing or going to court with a non-Christian. But, Scripture does forbid doing that for greedy reasons or because you’re covetous. There is no room for Christians defrauding anyone and therefore if, and a big if, a Christian goes to court with a non-Christian, it should be for a matter of justice not vengeance, greed or anything like that.
Finally, probably the most frequent area of going to court that I deal with, is child-custody challenges. Both parties (ex-spouses) might claim Jesus, but usually only 1 is willing to do church mediation. And when I say willing, I mean eager to do whatever is instructed or written. In most cases, even after trying, I’ve instructed folks to go to the courthouse for mediation so that something legal is written between parents. And certainly, my thought is…when it involves your kids, you do everything possibly to protect them. Again, the heart should be the same (not sinfully motivated or greedy for gain).
If at possible with you:
I know of several situations where people have attempted to reconcile and the other party was unwilling. Here’s my reply to that: 1) leave that in the hands of the Lord…pray like crazy that God would give you a sincere love for that person and that God would open the opportunity. 2) tell the person that whenever they’re willing to talk, you’re eager and ready to talk.
Here’s a real story: I had a person who wouldn’t talk with me for 3 years. A former dear friend, actually. It was really hard on me. My last communication to them was that I’m ready and willing to talk at any point. Just let me know. I would regularly find myself praying that God would take the anxiety away and the hurt. And I would ask the Lord to open the doors for us to talk. Finally, one day, I shot them a short text that I was thinking of them and praying for them. And…I got an answer and we talked that evening for about 2 hours and were able to come to peace with one another. It was very relieving…but man was it hard to wait.
The heart of the Christian is to be “towards” our enemies and loving towards those who have “ought” with us. We should step towards them, not away. Conflict should be opportunities for grace, not for separation. So, it is God’s will to attempt to reconcile. As far as it is possible…be at peace with everyone.
On to other stuff…From the Cheap Seats:
- As we’re gathering in smaller crowds right now, I’ve been encouraging those in attendance to use expression and clap…where here’s a great demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUyJFHgrrZc&feature=youtu.be. This guy is a pro!
- Got word last week that the OSAA (Oregon’s Schools Activities Association) is allowing each school to begin letting coaches work with their players in smaller groups. I’m smelling a baseball season approaching:).
- I really said that Linda Heard died on Sunday…?♂️…for clarity, she’s not as evidenced by this text from her: “I’ll have to go on YouTube and listen to your sermon. I especially wanted to listen to the part where you announce my death! We all had a good laugh over that.” But please pray for sweet Linda, Mona Bly, Amy Sidlo, and Jamie Reeves…all ladies facing some challenging health issues.
- This could not be more true…my sad reality: