Monday

Diversity as Maturity.

I've been thinking (a dangerous task for an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning, I understand).

I suspect that we can learn a lesson from disagreement: the degree to which we are able to remain in relationship with someone who holds opinions contrary to our own is an indication of the maturity of our relationship. If I can continue to be friends – not an acquaintance: real, genuine, share-your-lives friends – with someone whom you disagree about significant subjects with, that is a sign of maturity in the both of you, an din them.

There are many among us who appear to be compelled to be right in their relationships (or to bee seen as right, which – unbeknownst to them – is NOT the same thing). There are numbers among us people who cannot abide the idea of divergent thought among friends! Free will? Predestination? Grace? Judgment? Pre-trib? Post trib? Sola Scriptura? Revelation? Gay marriage? Abortion?  There are some who seem to think that it is their calling in life to convince others that they are right, and if we’ll only shut up and listen to them, our eyes will be opened and we’ll see the error of our ways and repent from disagreeing with them.

They demonstrate their immaturity.

Jesus Himself is a fine model; let no one say that his choices are the result of immaturity! And yet His best friends, the men with whom He shared every aspect of life while he was on this planet, did not even understand the things He most treasured. One of His best friends so completely disagreed with both His end and his means that he sold Him out for a month’s wages. And yet Jesus – until the very betrayal – was as good a friend to him as to Peter and John.

Consensus about doctrinal issues, or political, social, vocational issues, is not a requirement for mature friendship. Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed, but nobody said there needed to be any more agreement than just agreeing to walk together as friends.

Our unit, we remember, does not come from what we have learned, what we believed, what nation we were born in; our unity comes from our Father: if we are children of the same Father, then we are brothers. If one of us has an agenda ahead of the Father’s agenda, then that other loyalty is the issue, not the fact that we’re somehow, mysteriously, brothers, sons of an amazing Father.
  

Testimony, and Synchroblog Experiement


This is something of an experiment, combining a testimony of God's good works with a synchroblog.


The following exercise is from the synchroblog at http://frankviola.org/2012/07/09/gospelforthemiddle:

Fielding Melish and his wife Felicia have two children, ages 10 and 6. They live in a very remote part of MaineUSA. They are surrounded by extended family, none of whom are Christians. The nearest churches are one hour away, and by all evangelical standards, none of them are good. These churches are either highly legalistic, highly libertine, or just flat-out flaky.

One of Fielding’s cousins is a practicing Christian. They see each other once a year. Fielding’s cousin has shared Christ with Fielding many times over the years. Whenever they’ve talked about spiritual things, Fielding shows interest.

Felicia grew up in a Christian home. She’s received Christ, but she isn’t evangelistic and is overwhelmed with working long hours and raising two small children. She would love to find a church nearby for the spiritual support and instruction, but none exist.

Fielding has no college education. While he is capable of reading, he is not a reader. He doesn’t use the Web either. He’s a man who works with his hands, both for his career and for recreation. He’s an “outdoorsman.” He hunts, he builds, he does manual labor, etc. In his spare time, he helps his elderly parents with various building projects.

Fielding is not an atheist. Neither is he an agnostic. He believes in God. He believes Jesus is the Savior of the world who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. He hasn’t fully surrendered his life to Christ, but he is not sure what that looks like exactly. His children know a little about the Lord, mostly because of what their mother has taught them.

Recently Fielding asked this question:

When I’m with my cousin once a year, I want to learn more about God. But when I come back home, and I’m around everyone else, my mind is off of God, and I am back to working, raising my kids, and helping my parents. Someone needs to come up with a solution for people like me . . . people who are in the middle. (By “in the middle,” Fielding means someone who believes in Jesus, but who isn’t fully absorbed in the faith yet either. They simply don’t know enough nor do they have any spiritual support system around them.)

Relocating is not an option for Fielding and his wife. Even if they wanted to relocate, they don’t see a way they could do it financially.

Remember: Fielding and his wife don’t personally know any Christians. None of their extended family or coworkers are believers either. And the nearest churches (which are an hour away) aren’t recommended.


Testimony Time:

This is indeed a common issue today: people that cannot (for one reason or another) be part of a church, but need what a church offers.

We experienced this scenario, though our experience was in the back-woods of central Washington, notMaine. We were hunting there, and camping in the front yard of one of our party’s cousin. The cousin & his wife were in pretty much this exact situation. He worked for the local fire department.

This is what we did: We changed the subject, moving away from the problem (“How do I meet to spiritual needs?”) toward more of an experiential relationship, in the belief that an experiential relationship is more likely to be self-sustaining than an obligatory or intellectual relationship.

So we prayed for some specific miracles, and God answered. One was a successful hunt for the cousin (they needed the meat), and the other was for a change of a "final, incontestable" government ruling that meant the fulfillment of a 20-year old dream for them. The final ruling was reversed a couple of days later.

We shared some excellent fellowship while we were there, generally around meals, and essentially modeling a home group for them. We took a day off of hunting (something of a miracle in itself!) to clear some land for the answer to one of the prayers, and God threw in another rather dramatic miracle to sweeten the pot.

In the midst of all this, we took the time to teach, to convert what they were experiencing into an understanding of who God to them, and who they are to Him. The miracles helped the process.

When we left, we stayed in touch by phone, answering questions, fanning the flame. They began inviting neighbors to their home for meals, sharing (NOT preaching) all aspects of their life, including fire department issues, and also what God had done for them.

Eventually, it turned into a {simple church, house church, organic church} fellowship and while they never used the word, they were essentially pastoring folks in their rural community, as much through the fire department as through gatherings in their home.

We went hunting in the same territory the next year, met some of their friends, shared a more meals and more stories, discussed new answers to new challenges, and brought home more meat.


Here's another synchroblog response:
http://mobileintensiveprayerunit.blogspot.com/2012/07/gospel-for-middle-synchroblog.html