Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Disunity

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Proverbs 6:16-19

All of the above the Lord hates. Lying is in the list twice. However, I want to draw your attention to the last phrase. “A man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Think back to your years in junior high. Were there kids who were expert in stirring up dissension? They seemed to delight in it. How about since then? Have you ever been in, or observed a church fight in a local congregation?

“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15

If bitterness springs up it defiles many people and dissension then happens. The instruction is to see that no one misses the grace of God.

This dissension has to be stopped. Here are two verses with the same solution.

“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.” Romans 16:17, 18

1. Watch out for them
2. Keep away from them
3. “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that,
have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and
sinful; he is self-condemned.” Titus 3:10, 11
- Warn him a maximum two times.
- Have nothing to do with him.
- He is warped, sinful and self condemned.
4. They are not serving the Lord Christ
5. They are effective communicators by smooth talk, flattery, and lying.
6. Don’t be naïve.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Islam and Democracy

Twenty-five years ago I was on a 747 flying from Manila to Bangkok. Seated next to me was an attorney from Pakistan. In order to start a conversation I opened up with something like this, “What do the following countries have in common: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordon, Egypt, Libya Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco?” This was a leading question expecting him to answer, “Islam!” That was not his answer. With much vehemence he said, “They are all run by dictators.” Over the years I have meditated on his answer and have done a little bit of research.

Among the Shiites there is no separation between politics and theology. The descendants of Ali are the only rightful caliphs. The caliph has absolute political and theological power. He is appointed by God. He is not elected. Democracy is foreign to this form of Islam. Separation of church and state is not known.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Love and Forgiveness

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34, 35

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Do you know any Christians who do not love other Christians?

Do you know any Christians who do not forgive other Christians?

It is not possible to love until we get forgiven for our unlove.

It is not possible to forgive until we repent of our unforgiveness.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Unity: Humility

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2, 3

Be completely humble and gentle.”

“Keep the Unity.”

“Completely” is a superlative. It is also absolute. It modifies “humble” and “gentle”.

This complete humility and complete gentleness is a lot of humility and complete gentleness. These two characteristics precede the command to keep the unity. If these two attributes were a little bit evident in churches today, keeping unity would be a piece of cake.

The command is a “be” command. It is not a “do” command. It addresses what we “are,” not what we “do”.

We have a hard time “being”. We are so used to “doing”. If we succeeded in being, our doing would be okay. We “do” out of what we “are”. How do we “do”, “being?” We don’t. We start by “doing” nothing. Are we not to obey? Yes, but not by effort. We are to obey out of we are. We start with “being”.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On Slavery

A few days before he died John Wesley wrote a letter to William Wilberforce on the subject of the slave trade in which he said that American slavery “was the vilest that ever saw the sun.” In Though the Mountains Shake, Amy Carmichael thought that if Wesley had known of the sex slavery of temple prostitution where baby girls are married to the gods and which had been going on for centuries he would have pronounced it the “vilest that ever saw the sun.” My comment here is that all slavery everywhere in all centuries has included sex slavery. In addition to the evil of slavery there is that added evil of the rape of children and adults. It is going on today in many nations. Northern Uganda is one example. Prostitution in most countries is slavery. The women are owned by their pimps. Japan sent Korean women to be prostitutes for their army. The Russian revolution in 1917 sent the wives of 10,000 Russian Army officers to be women for the Russian Army on the Eastern Front. England stopped their slave trade. The Civil War stopped slavery here in the U.S. But sex slavery is still endemic in the world. It is like the war on terror, there is no front. The front is everywhere.

Monday, October 02, 2006

More On Teachers And Disunity

There is a different kind of teacher who may be part of the disunity. He is not false, malicious, or seeking followers of himself. He is a true servant of God who brings people to the Father through the Son. In that sense, he is a great participant in the unity of the body.

In what sense is he a participant in the disunity in the church?

He may, himself, be a follower of a man, a doctrine or denomination to which he has an intellectual agreement, a great loyalty, an emotional attachment or just a sense of belonging.

He doesn’t think that this attachment he has is greater than his love for God, but it may show when he does not show love to a brother who has a different attachment.

“If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:20, 21