Christianity 201

November 28, 2010

Words That Divide

So often in the Christian blogosphere we’re only interested in what someone wrote in the previous 24 hours.   This post however, is actually from June 2008.   (There’s a lot of good stuff online if you use limited search criteria; I was interested to see if anyone on WordPress had quoted Paul Billheimer, author of Destined for the Throne.)   It’s by BJ Rutledge at BJ’s Weblog where it appeared under the title, If You’re Gonna Walk the Walk, Then Talk The Talk.

Two months ago,  Janet and I attended a conference at North Point Community Church.  While there, we were reminded that a broken heart is usually what fuels your vision.  I think that’s why Sunday’s message on unity is so important to me.  I have a heart to reach people who do not know Jesus Christ and when anything hinders that, it breaks my heart.

I’ve never been in a church with a sweeter spirit than Grace Fellowship, and I want us to protect this spirit at all costs.  I also want us to protect the unity of the universal Body of Christ (the Church) in the same way.  One of the things that breaks my heart is when people – who claim to be followers of Christ – choose to do something totally contrary to His will by tearing down another church or church leader.  I hope you and I will never be guilty of that.  Jesus prayed for us to be “one” so that those who do not know Him could be “won” to faith in Him  (John 17).

When I was serving at another church in another state, I had a youth worker who asked us to pray for her husband who was not a believer and who never attended church.  As a first step, we began to pray for him to at least be open to coming to church and he did.  The Pastor had made some needed changes in the church and we were seeing many people make commitments of their lives to Jesus Christ.  This man began to come and was open to hearing the truth about Jesus.  About this time, two men in the church who were upset with the changes the Pastor had made talked to this man.  In that conversation, they began to rip the pastor apart.  When his wife got home that evening, he told her: “Don’t ever ask me to go to church again.”   His wife and daughter cried.  Those two men probably didn’t think anything about their “unsanctified” words.  That man remained lost without Christ.  I imagine that Satan laughed.

Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, wrote the Christ-followers in Rome these words: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 15:5-6)

A paraphrase of Eph. 4:29-32 says:   29Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. 30Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.  31-32Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

The next time you’re tempted to be critical of a church, a pastor, or its members, remember Ephesians 4 and Romans 15.   If you have a legitimate issue or problem, Jesus said go to the person(s) involved privately (Matthew 18:15-17).  In Matthew 18,  Jesus wasn’t talking about matters of opinion, He was talking about sin.  In matters of opinion, you may have to agree to disagree, but be careful that your opinions are not used in some way to hinder the cause of Christ.   All of us have opinions, but a principle Paul outlined in 1 Cor 10:23-24 reminds us that even though we may have a right to something – it may not be profitable or help our neighbor.  {23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.  (1 Cor. 10:23-24)}

In Paul Billheimer’s classic book, Love Covers, he states that most problems in churches are not over essentials, but rather happen because of unsanctified ambitions, jealousies or personality clashes.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen this happen in churches and communities.  Whenever you’re around someone who is always trying to stir things up, be cautious of that person and their words.   Proverbs 16:28a says “A perverse man stirs up dissension.”

Billheimer also states he believes more souls have been lost through the sin of disunity than all other sins combined.  That’s a very sobering thought.   When we talk about other believers in a negative way instead of about Jesus in a positive way – those who are not yet believers tend to balk at the offer of putting their faith in Jesus Christ.  You never know who’s listening, so make sure your comments are used to build up others and to draw people toward Christ – not push them away.  None of us are perfect – we all make mistakes – especially with our words!  We don’t walk in perfection, but we can walk with direction.  So, If you’re gonna walk the walk, then talk the talk.

B.J. Rutledge is pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Paradise, Texas.

1 Comment »

  1. […] For a previous article by B. J. Rutledge at C201, click here. […]

    Pingback by Assured of Eternal Life « Christianity 201 — November 6, 2012 @ 5:53 pm | Reply


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