Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Dealing With Conflicts In The Church

Mark 9:38-50

“And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.  For he that is not against us is on our part.” (Mark 9:38-40)

The disciples had seen a man casting out devils, claiming the authority of Christ.  As humans we tend to be very possessive and the disciples were no exception.  They immediately commanded the man to stop claiming Jesus name.    Jesus told them not to stop him, because if he was really getting his power from Christ, he could not easily turn his back on Christ.  His actions supported what Christ was doing. 

Paul recognized the fact that even though they might not be teaching exactlt what they should, such teachers were still teaching about Christ, in Philippians 1:15-18.  “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.  What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”  Though they may do things differently, they are still trying to serve Christ.  We should not interfere. 

Paul tells us how to treat them if their behavior doesn’t match the standard the scripture standard, in II Thessalonians 3:14-15.  “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  The fact that he is not holding a proper moral standard. It does mean he is not a Christian.  We should approach him as a brother in an effort to help him understand what God expects.  If he refuses to listen, we should avoid association for the sake of our own reputation, but not treat him as an enemy.  As we see in Jesus’ instructions on church discipline in Matthew 18:15-17, we are to treat them as we would any other unsaved person.  Paul says the same thing in I Corinthians 5. 

If they are deliberately trying to cause confusion and conflict, teaching things that contradict the scriptures, we are to recognize them as serving something other than Christ, as Paul warns in Romans 16:17-18.  “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”  They are deliberately trying to mislead people to accomplish their own goals.  We need to avoid any association with them, not just to protect our reputation, but to prevent others from being misled.   

Sometimes a man begins teaching something that is not true simply because he has misunderstood a passage.. We should go to him and show him what the scriptures actually say,  If he is sincere about serving God he will listen if approached in a non-confrontational way,  I f he refuses to consider what he scriptures say, he is not trying to serve God.  Titus 3:10-11 instructs, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”  The fact that he refuses to consider what God said clearly indicates he doesn’t care about God.   

We should not make an issue of things that are not clearly stated in scripture, as Romans 14:1 tells us.  “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”  The rest of the chapter gives examples and warns against imposing our standards on others, warning that doing so can turn weak Christians away.  Jesus expands on this concern, both in Matthew 18, and here in Mark. 

“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.  And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:41-42)

A person can be serving Christ I ways we deem unimportant such as giving someone a drink of water in the Lord’s name, and God will reward them accordingly.  If we turn them away for not doing what we think they should, we will be held accountable for their failure to obey God.  As Romans 14:4 asks, “Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.”  We should not be judging how others serve God.  Romans 14:13 advises, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.”  Instead of worrying about how others are serving God we need to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to. 

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.  And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.  Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.” (Mark 9:43-50)

Every person’s works will be judged by God. If we have something in our life that prevents us from serving him, it would be better to live the rest of our lives without it, than to end up in hell because we were not willing to give it up, because once we die, there will be no more second chances.  I f we haven’t made the effort to purify ourselves, no one else can.  We need to allow the spirit to work in us to remove the sin, and eliminate the conflicts.

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