Avoiding Christian Intolerance? Part 1 and 2

Week 21 Chapter 14 E

Avoiding Christian Intolerance ? Part I

Mk 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50

 

Many Christians talk about how bad the world is today, however, not too many are doing anything about it. What’s worse, their public and private behavior towards each other is appalling and often goes ignored. They have strategies for attracting unbelievers that include “Christian” groups and activities, that have little if anything to do with influencing the hearts and minds of the world for Christ. They think that people will come flocking to them just to get in on the fun. While certainly Christ told us to love people, this strategy is somewhat disingenuous. Either it seems to minimize what the Christian message is, or it is a religious example of the “bait and switch” tactic used by sleazy salespeople, trying to sell a substandard product. Many actually think that these activities can generate, or substitute, for a real friendship that requires giving the other person what they need and not what we want to give. Sadly, this fantasy is often the result of ghetto thinking.

 

The reputation of Christians in the U.S. is bad at best. When people think of Jesus, they think of pushy, intolerant, religiously motivated, power mongers that remind them of the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades. Much of the rhetoric in the media and in political circles, paints us as single-issue morons, who cannot think outside our ideological box. They see us competing with each other, backstabbing each other, as well as other poor examples of character, and frankly find it hard to believe that what we believe has any merit at all.  They see us as fools, but often for good reason. Why would anyone join a group largely viewed as ignorant and irrelevant? 

 

If Christians are to overcome the public perception that handicaps their witness as well as their church attendance, they need to begin with themselves. In addition to cleaning up their relationships with other Christians, they need to look at how they got this reputation, and why people came to know them as fools. We can begin by taking inventory five ways. These suggestions, although not exhaustive, can start us on the path.

 

Point 1

Beware of hasty conclusions

 

Everyone’s spiritual walk is different.  We all mature at different rates. Even so, we are not to judge the walk or motives of our brothers.  If a person confesses Christ, and their actions are congruent, we must not hold him up to the scrutiny of, as Bruce writes, “trifles and crotchets” (Bruce, p 236).

 

Point 2

Understand Church History

 

As Christians, we cannot go around in ignorance of the historical context of our various squabbles. Remaining ignorant handicaps us and causes us to repeat the offenses and heresies that have gone before. We are ALL part of a very big movement bound by the ministry of Christ, His Word and the various creeds that are part of the Church Universal. There were people who have gone before that and faced exactly what we are facing in this time. Instead of reinventing the wheel on a daily basis, an historical awareness of the Church, its blunders and successes, will keep us from falling for false doctrine and heresy. As the old saying goes, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”. (George Satayana)

 

Point 3

A divided Church grieves the Spirit of God

 

Jesus did not intend for denominations to be the norm. How did your denomination come about? Was it religious or was it political? Some religious ideology is strictly a reaction to sociopolitical ideas that were prevalent in the United States. Some denominations formed due to fights (not always theologically based) with other denominations…what about yours? Why did it form, and is that what Jesus would have done? Would that argument hold up now? Are those churches still different and why? Critical thinking is required here.

 

Point 4

Instead of the other guy, it might be YOU that is not saved.

 

Paul told us to make our calling and election sure (2Peter 1:10). Our focus should be on us, and not on our brother when it comes to picking issue with salvation. It is not our job to convict others of sin. It is our job to make sure we are a Christian that bears witness, interprets, and sets the example for the other person in thought word and deed. However, we have a tendency to get that wrong.

 

Point 5

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks….

 

Our mouth is a good indicator of what we are really thinking and feeling. Our actions are even better at telling whether we are honest or not. What is your mouth saying about your heart? We, as Christians, need to stop our petty and useless fighting and embrace the Church Universal in order to be effective for Christ. Anything less is blasphemous. Read the newspaper and listen to the news.  How does your community see Christians? What caricatures of Christians do you see? How are your thoughts, words, and deeds contributing to that? 

 

We can talk all we want about being Christians, but unless we learn about our history, how we have hurt others in the past, how we continue to do so, and how we can change that perception, we will only grieve the heart of God and do little to make a difference in our world.

  

Week 21 Chapter 14 E

Avoiding Christian Intolerance ? Part I

Mk 9:38-41; Luke 9:49-50

   

Read the above Scriptures

 

In Mark 9: 38

 

1. What does John mean by “following us” (He does not include Jesus)?

 

2. Compare this to Mt. 12: 24-28. How are these cases similar?

 

3. How have you seen this in your church?

 

In verses 39-40

 

4. How do churches defy this statement made by Jesus?

 

5. Look up the words “trifles” and “crotchets” in a dictionary (if not there go to www.dictionary.com) how are these ideas applied in these verses?

 

6. What trifles and crotchets does your denomination or church use to separate itself from the Church Universal?

 

In verse 41

 

7. Based on Jesus’ statement, how do the particular doctrines of your denomination or church separate from or unite to the Church Universal?

 

8. What is the “holy catholic church” that is mentioned in the Apostles Creed mean? Why is it important?

 

In Luke 9:49-50

 Jesus puts two types of tests here for believers.

9. How did the twelve fail?

 

10. How do you measure up?

 

11. Write a paragraph about what you have learned about the Church’s witness in this passage?

 

12. Remember to join our free discussion groups on Thursdays by teleconference. E-mail me at chaplydia@livingtruth.us for a reservation.

To Post EVERY day at bottom of post….

 If you have been blessed by this ministry, won’t you consider donating? (www.livingtruth.us/donatenow.html)   all donations are tax deductible.   We covet you prayers and need you financial support as well to keep all of our services going.  If you cannot afford to donate, please consider volunteering for us.  We have virtual opportunities right where you live!  To learn more, e-mail me at: Chaplydia@livingtruth.us   

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