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Faithful

August 1, 2012

“ ‘And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another’ ” (Matt. 24: 10).

It is an increasing challenge to remain faithful. Jesus prophesied that many would offend one another and worse, as the end of days approached (Matt. 24: 10, 12). The walk of faith, in any case, gets more challenging the farther along toward Calvary we go.

It can be difficult to locate a Bible believing church. It can be difficult even to find other Christians with whom to fellowship. Devout Christians can feel isolated, as if fighting a battle of one on a forgotten hilltop – sometimes against believers and non-believers, both.

Mature Faith

Faith is a journey. Consequently, not all Christians are equally mature in their faith.

  • Some are simply new to the faith, and inexperienced in it.
  • Although sincere, a few may hold mistaken beliefs, along with the Gospel message that Jesus died for our sins.
  • Many are uninstructed, and unaware what they lack – however long they may have been Christian.
  • And a number claiming to be Christian are not, thereby causing enormous harm when they violate Christian tenets. Certain televangelists come to mind.

This range of belief can be a great frustration to more mature Christians – particularly when incorrect statements about doctrine (or practices in conflict with doctrine) draw the ridicule of non-Christians.

We cannot disown our less mature brothers and sisters. That is not what Jesus would have us do. Their faith is not for us to judge (Rom. 14: 10). And there may be room for growth on our own part.

Our Response to “Weak” Faith

While we are always to defend the Gospel (1 Pet. 3: 15), Paul advises that we avoid disputes on collateral issues with  those still “weak” in their faith (Rom. 14: 1). He used Jewish dietary restrictions to illustrate this.

Paul considered adherence to dietary restrictions unnecessary, but urged that more knowledgeable Christians not ridicule or disrespect those continuing to adhere to these restrictions.

Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died” (Rom. 14: 15).

As Paul put it, we are not to be a “stumbling block” in a brother or sister’s way (Rom. 14: 13).

Loving Instruction

Loving instruction is a different matter.  When Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos (a fervent early evangelist) speak, they “took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18: 24-26).

The ability to teach (“understanding”) is, in fact, a gift of the Spirit:

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens…” (Prov. 3: 19).

Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established…” (Prov. 24: 3).

This changes the focus. Our knowledge now becomes an asset, rather than a burden. The ignorance of other Christians will remain a concern. But it will be less of a torment.

Outreach

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matt. 28: 19).

The Great Commission is ever before Christians. It is a joy and a duty for us to share Christ with others. But sharing Him in a culture derisive of Christianity, if not hostile to it, can seem a fruitless task. That there are Christians (and pseudo-Christians) disseminating incorrect information about Christianity is another hurdle.

This should not discourage us – certainly not to the point of surrender. We are instruments privileged to participate in the process of Salvation. We broadcast the Gospel message.  But it is the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin, turning hearts to God.

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life” (2 Cor. 2: 15-16).

Some will be drawn toward Him; others not – even if we avoid the pitfalls to which less mature Christians may be prone.

The Hilltop

We are not really alone on that hilltop. Jesus reached it long before we did. He planned to be there before the first sunrise crested the first hill.  It is His consolation that sustains us, even when we feel isolated. And His faithfulness that will lead us home.

“ ‘…and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ ” (Matt. 28: 20).

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse http://www.avoicereclaimed.com

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