Thursday, August 2, 2007

Judging Another Man's Servant

I've been a little behind in my One Year Bible because of my other studies in Beth Moore's workbook and trying to clean out my house. So yesterday's reading, took me a little off guard:

Romans 14

Do Not Pass Judgment on One Another
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11for it is written,

"As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God."

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Do Not Cause Another to Stumble
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God.Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

As if that were not enough to get a message through to me, the Psalm reading for yesterday was:

Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm.
1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

2 for he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the waters.

3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.

5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.

6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

I feel convicted about something but I am not a hundred percent sure After reading these two excerpts - I wonder if we as Christians treat others - whom we deem as different wrongly. What laid on my heart was not only my - but in general Christians - interactions with Mormons. This could be because of my own past experiences having not only been LDS but also a defender of the faith. However, oddly enough - Seventh Day Adventists came to mind as well - but that was because Steve has mentioned them just a little earlier.

After wrestling over these passages, I'm going to try to really articulate my thoughts - but as jumbled as they feel, I pray that I do an okay job.

Steve has been studying Greek as of late and (unknown to me) began trying to translate Romans 14 from this Greek New Testament our Pastor had loaned him. In verse 4 the word "man's" comes from the Greek word, "allotrios" which means "belonging to another" or "foriegn, strange, not of one's own family, alien, an enemy" and the word "judge" right before it is the Greek word, "krino" meaning, "to seperate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose". When he translated this, he got from it "judge a servant from another household". An example came to mind this morning while I was thinking more about these passages.

This past year, on the National Day of Prayer - chaired by Shirley Dobson - blatantly excluded Mormons from leading any prayers, and even in Utah flat out refused to invite any congregations to attend. It is supposed to be open to anyone - but in pratice isn't. You can read articles about it here and here.

As Trinity believing Christians - who are we to judge another servant or slave? Who are we to stumble the faith of another? This question really bothers me because on one hand, we have Biblical examples of the apostles - the most prominent being Paul - correcting false doctrine. Yet, at the same time I don't recall any Biblical examples (after Christ came) that definativly show that those who are different should be excluded. Quite the opposite. Paul confonted the legalism in Jewish converts who continued to attempt to put Gentile converts under the Mosaic law, even correcting Peter for playing this "game". Peter though, still ate at the same tables as those who were being corrected. These Jewish converts were putting themselves under a false doctrine - that the Jewish law came before the cross of Christ - yet Peter still ate at their tables. To eat with someone during this period was a very intimate action. It wasn't taken lightly as it might be today.

So if Peter, the leader of the apostles, was intimate with those putting themselves under false doctrines - what should our actions two thousand years later be? Should it be to exclude people because we don't agree with their doctrines? Is it to show less grace and composure to them because we believe they are under the yoke of imprisionment from Satan? What are our actions supposed to be and who are they to reflect? Our flesh or our God?

When Steve and I first looked at Grace Point - as a place to visit and check out but not to ever leave the LDS church and begin attending - one statement stood out to us in their statement of faith:

"We believe too many churches are divided over nonessential issues and focus on issues that do not matter in eternity.

At the heart of our beliefs stand what Jesus refers to as the greatest of the commands: love God and love others (Matthew 22:34-40). We believe a church should be known not only by what it believes but primarily by what it does. Beliefs become stagnant and void if they are not translated into actions. We want Grace Point to be known primarily by its love for God and its love for people. We want to be known for what we do and not necessarily for what we stand against." Our Beliefs - Our Purpose

This caught our attention because this was so unlike Christian churches. I've heard Pastor Hudson mention a few times that it is truely sad that Christians are known for what they stand against but not what they stand for. This is a sad state of affairs.

I'm a member of a few discussion groups and boards regarding Mormonism - most if not all, are from when I was a Mormon defending the faith. I didn't later join these groups to slam on Mormons or show them where they were in error. I see so many posters there acting so disrespectfully, crass, and rude to Latter Day Saints simply because they are LDS and have the "gall" to defend their "heretical beliefs and insulting Jesus". When asked why they can act so rudely towards LDS - they always sum it up by stating they (LDS) are not Christians.

Yet, Romans 14:4 tells us we are not to "judge another man's servant" we do not know a Latter Day Saint, SDA, Jehovah Wittness', and so on - we do not know their walk with the Lord. How are we to call out their walk and call them unsaved? Is one yolk of slavery worse than another? For the man who is enslaved to pornography, the mother who is enslaved to sloth, and the person enslaved to a loose tounge - are these less damning than those who try to walk humbly before the Lord and come unto Him?

In Romans 14 it lays out some of the non-essential doctrines that divide the body - food, drink, which day to consider holy, and so forth. While I do believe it is essential to know God and therefor know His character and nature - I do not believe we should exclude anyone who seeks God, seeks His will, or His face from ourselves. I do not believe we should allow ourselves to treat anyone differently than we would treat our fellow believers and most importantly, our Lord and Savior. Jesus points out that those we did not feed, those we did not visit in prision, and so forth - that they were He and how we treated the "least" is how we treated Him also. What is the least?

In Matt 25:40, when the King says, "least" is comes from the Greek word, "elachistos" which means, "smallest least, whether in size; in amount: of management of affairs; in importance: what is the least moment; in authority: of commandments; in the estimation of men: of persons; in rank and excellence: of persons". How many "Christian apologetics" consider - even if they will not admitt it - Mormons and other "cultists" (that word makes me ill ) to be "in the estimation of men: of persons" the least?

I'm not sure what exactly I am supposed to do with this yet, however I do know I should always be aware. Whether or not another person and I know Jesus the same way is not the issue - in Psalm 24:1 we learn that ALL in the Earth is the Lord's because He created it. In verses 3 and 4 it states, "Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false." And in verse 6, "Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.Selah"

This totally reminded me that while I may not agree with the character and nature of God in the same manner percieved and understood by a Jehovah's Wittness or a Latter Day Saint - I they are still God's creation, they still strive to have clean hands and a pure heart, and most importantly - in this generation are those who seek Him. James 4:8 PROMISES that those who draw near to God, He will draw near to them. We have to have faith and trust that the Lord will do what He promises. That He will lead His creations to Him. We cannot comprimise ourselves simply to "save" every person in the world. If we are cruel simply to pressure another into our way of thinking, who are we truely serving? Is it the Lord or is the god of this world?

"But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Matt 19:26

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