Monday, June 23, 2008

Elephants in Church - Pastor Tommy

Our pastor has started a new series of "Elephants in the Church". Below are some of my thoughts on the matter.

I believe that as Christians, we tend to forget the true basis of our beliefs and focus too much on the "grey elephants". What I mean by that is, that we focus on issues that are truly debatable and not "black or white" in the Bible. For example, nowhere in the Bible does it say that it is a sin to drink alcohol. As a matter of fact, Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding and many people drank it. However, it mentions that we are not to become drunk. Basically, saying it is OK in "moderation".

There are some people that may drink wine with their meals and that is perfectly fine, as that is a freedom that they feel OK about. Yet, as christians we must remember that there are others that struggle with alcoholism every day and we need to be mindful of them. If you KNOW that a fellow brother or sister in Christ has a struggle, do you think that it is right of you to order an alcoholic beverage in front of them?

Let's see what Romans 14:13-18 says:

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

So, while I may feel perfectly fine about eating pork, I certainly would not eat it in front of one of my Jewish friends who does NOT eat it. Same principle.

Here are a few more examples of the "Grey Elephant":

A friend of ours became a pastor for teens at another church and wore Khakis and a golf shirt every Sunday. Several weeks later, the head pastor came into his office and said "You need to start wearing a suit on Sunday" Somewhat confused, the teen pastor asked "Why?" and was told that he needed to give his best to God. . . well, that teen pastor WAS giving his best to God. Those WERE the BEST clothes he had. . . he didn't own a suit. This is a good example of one christian brother hurting another, unneccessarily, over one of those "disputable matters".

A teen pastor had been speaking with one of his students about a friend of his and that he had really been trying to get him to come to church. Finally, one Sunday, the teen was able to convince his friend to come. His friend came walking in the church with torn jeans, a t-shirt, and a ball cap. Nothing with any obscenities, mind you. One of the deacons came up to the teen pastor and told him to tell "that kid" to take off his hat. The teen pastor said "No, I won't do it, because I'm just glad that he is HERE!" So the deacon went over to the "kid" wearing the hat and told him, rather rudely, to take off his hat in church. The kid got up and left. This is a prime example of a Christian brother hurting a "potential-believer", unneccessarily.

Now, I know I have been guilty of these types of thoughts, because I was raised in churches very similar. However, as I have continued growing in my walk with Christ, I have learned alot about these "disputable matters" and have felt very strongly about our portrayal of a "judgemental" religion. Judgement is NOT up to us, it is up to God. Lest we forget.

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