Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tempest in a Teapot

Isn't it interesting how the enemy persuades us to turn aside from the larger and more significant issues to those that are petty and of very little importance? It is rarely the majors that divide the church. They are seldom discussed at length and sometimes are reduced to the level of the inconsequential. But let some small error or omission take place, or let someone feel left out, or passed over, or not listened to, and the tempest rises and turbulence ensues.

See how this influences our behavior. We carefully tiptoe around the minors so that we can be sure that no one will be upset with us. For those of us who are Pastors, how quickly we allow the temptation of circumstance to distract us from the major task that is always before us, the feeding of the flock of God, and the guardianship of truth.

Have you ever, in your preparation, thought "I can't say that because ...?" It may be very clear what the text is saying and you have a firm grasp of its importance but if you preach it as you should, that certain someone will get upset. So we must find a way to soft-pedal the message so that no possible offense may be given. But don't we already understand that to begin defensively in any work of Christ, is to project failure from the start?

As Elders in the pursuit of duty must we always do a triple pass? The first pass is to determine the rightness or wrongness of a situation and to prepare for the execution of it. That might appear to be reasonably simple, until we make the second pass ... if we do what we have decided, and thus what we ought to do as God's court, the court of primary jurisdiction no less, a certain group or a person will not like it. That forces, in effect, a third pass in which compromise prevails, the teeth of the issue are extracted, and there is no gravitas in our deliberations. We began by asking the Holy Spirit to lead us to just and wise decisions but in the end expediency rules the day.

Why do we fear the tempest in a teacup. It is small and incidental. It is never mainstream. The church of the ages has not done battle over the minors nor have the martyrs laid down their lives for the trivial and inconsequential. So why is it that we find the minors so compelling? I believe it is that we are people of the now, people of the quick-fix, purveyors of niceness, men and women who believe that the peace of God is best found in the status quo. The label on the door says:"Do Not Disturb!"

Let us hear what the Lord said to Joshua: "Be strong and very courageous!" We can't take the battle to the enemy when we are ill-prepared. Prayer and study are still paramount to Christian effectiveness. Strength is found in the deliberate pursuit of truth. The Word of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, lifts us out of pettiness and leads us "into all truth," strengthening us "with might in the inner man." Then the courage to tell it forth or to act upon it must happen without hesitation. It doesn't matter what men may say, or how they may respond to faithful teaching or preaching. The compulsion of the majors is sufficient.

Wilfred A. Bellamy, Ph.D.

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