Thank you so much for those of you who have responded in some way to my last post! I wanted to share with you a resource that God has used to speak clarity powerfully into the struggles I had written about. Since the last time I posted, I have experienced a great measure of freedom partly in due to this sermon as well as through speaking with Jeff.
5 principles from Romans 14:1. There will always be diversity in the church, even diversity of conviction about what the will of the Lord is for some areas of behavior.2. Many of these differences we should not distinguish as good and evil. Sin is what does not come from faith. But our varying perspectives and varying degrees of faith, give rise to differing choice which may both honor Christ as acceptable choices.3. Therefore, we must not despise or condemn our brothers and sisters, but trust their Master and ours to deal with his servants wisely.4. We should all seek to be fully persuaded in the convictions we follow so that we are not immobilized by indecision or plagued with a guilty conscience.5. We should do all we do for the honor of Christ and with a heart full of thanksgiving to him.Applying these points to our lives:1. Affirm and rejoice in diversity. It is here to stay, and we must get beyond our defensiveness.2. Don’t distinguish differences of this kind by saying one is good and another is evil.3. Don’t despise or condemn someone because he doesn’t feel called to your ministry or mission. Try to see how your mutual callings complement each other in Christ’s overall purposes.4. Be fully persuaded in your own mind. Pray, study, know yourself. Settle it before God that this is your ministry for now and relax and put aside the need to defend yourself or criticize others. God accepts a wide range of choices as obedience when we have humbled ourselves and sought his will in Scripture and stepped out decisively for him.5. Do all you do from faith for the honor of Christ with a heart full of thanksgiving for his infinite grace.
“Now let me close by applying all this to your individual life. For all our similarity we are a very diverse group of people in the church. There are followers and leaders, emotional and stoical, organized and unorganized, thrifty and lavish, intelligent and unintelligent, readers and non-readers, planners and drifters, curious and uninterested, expressive and non-verbal, people-oriented and task-oriented, contemplatives and activists, serious and humorous, dignified and casual, etc. We are very diverse.Add to this that God usually calls us each to the ministry that suits us best so that we can feel satisfied in it. This means that our involvements in domestic ministries and frontier missions are going to be tremendously diverse. And my prayer and goal is that we see the interrelatedness of these so clearly that we will all feel free to do what God is calling us to do without guilt or defensiveness.”