In the churches today, there are many different patterns having to do with equipping us for delivering the Word of God. Historically there were groups which were founded upon the thought that all need to be equipped for this work; and and many started with this thought, but gradually abandoned it, and today find it very difficult to encourage anyone to do so. And this spectrum exists within individual churches, and individual groups of churches. There are even churches within the most restrictive groups of all, who defy their human hierarchy and try to help everyone that they meet to enter the Kingdom of God.
So. What is the best course for us to follow? What do we do, what do we say? What should we want the ability to do, and how should we want each other to be equipped?
We will suggest that the best course of all is to love our neighbors, our neighbors being defined as whoever we happen to be near at any given moment. We will suggest that it is the Lord who reveals essential truths, not human powers of reading or detective-work. What is plain text to some, is flat-out mystery and uncertainty to others, because the necessary acts of God have not been given to them yet.
And what does it mean, in this context, to love our neighbors? Perhaps we can be very simple, yet very flexible. Sometimes we will meet people who cannot, in good conscience, accept many kinds of input from whoever we are, whatever we appear to be. At such a time it is good for us to know many different kinds of people, and to give those phone numbers out. And sometimes we will meet people who simply want someone, anyone, to agree with simple yet startling truths to which no one in their presence has yet been able; we should simply agree then, and encourage further conversation, knowing that, in truth, the Lord is often very startling.
Let us do as the Lord has said. He has said even that we are to make friends using the stuff of their unrighteousness, in order to improve their future and ours; we have this in Luke 16:9. That, is good.
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© 2011 and 2016 Jonathan E. Brickman
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