Sunday, February 15, 2009

Crossing the line

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<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial =
size=3D2>Sometimes we find=20
ourselves sitting on a fine line between the need to be sensitive to =
culture and=20
maintaining the integrity of God's revealed desire for us as a church. =
the cultural norms kind of get in the way of God's word and I would even =
go as=20
far as to say are sinful, going against what God's desire is for his=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Here =
in Mibu=20
culture, you don't dare step on someone's toes and indicate to them that =
think something is wrong with their actions or worse, their heart. Even =
if done=20
gently and lovingly, you run a high risk of the recipient of your =
'rightfully' getting angry and even charging you a large amount of money =
settle the issue.&nbsp;But a&nbsp;few years back, when the gospel was =
presented, God's word did that very thing. It pointed to every single =
person and=20
revealed to them that God himself&nbsp;thinks they are sinners and that =
nothing they themselves can do to take themselves out of that horrible=20
condition. Many people responded in a way that gave the type of weight =
and honor=20
that is&nbsp;due to such a revelation from our Creator. Many also moved =
on to=20
hear and believe the provided way by which they could be restored in =
relationship to God; an alien righteousness.</FONT></SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>One of =
my friends=20
here, whose way of life has never really seemed to steer any closer to=20
accordance with that truth, recently became angry with me because I've=20
repeatedly turned down his frequent requests for material help; =
something we're=20
VERY cautious with here because of the expectations that giving handouts =

creates. He wasn't just a little bit angry or bothered by it. He =
actually was=20
making a big deal about it and slandering the church and the work that =
Spirit is doing here. I've questioned for quite some time whether this =
guy had=20
ever really understood the fact that he is a sinner whose only hope was=20
something totally outside of himself. His recent actions and the things=20
he&nbsp;was saying&nbsp;confirmed quite firmly my previous suspicions =
and so it=20
was time to express my concerns to him, now that I had some concrete =
of his heart that I could refer to. I talked to some of our teachers who =
also seeing the same things and we decided that we needed to meet =
together with=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>In =
that meeting I=20
shared with him where Jesus says, in Luke, essentially that our actions =
resultant from what is really in our heart, so that our actions are =
a window, though blurry, into our hearts.&nbsp;I told him that based on =
actions, I wonder if he might be in danger of turning out like the many =
in scripture where people turned away from God because of their desire =
for the=20

easy life and the acquisition and maintenance of material wealth. His =
was very angry, and much more of his heart in matters poured forth into =
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>He =
left in a rage,=20
threatening&nbsp;to come back with his axe and&nbsp;chop our house down =
bring all kinds of heavies upon us. He also said that only a large =
amount of=20
money&nbsp;being paid to him would fix this situation and restore peace =
us.&nbsp;Soon after, he sent a middleman (another interesting cultural =
story for=20
another time) to inform us of what he's upset about and to work out the =
of restoring peace with him; something we were desperately interested =
in, but=20
not in a way that would be communicating to others that our having =
this man about his blatant wrongdoings was improper. We were able to =
strong on this point because we've seen the power of God's word to =
convict here.=20
There are many who have responded to similar exhortations in exactly the =

opposite way and have continued to be faithful to what God's word has =
to them. It's not impossible to work around this cultural=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Just a =
warning; this=20
story doesn't resolve itself in a way that most would probably=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Long =
story short;=20
this man, for some reason, changed his mind about demanding money for =
peace and=20
we were able to restore the peace&nbsp;and maintain a civil relationship =

(signified by a handshake with the mediators and sometimes others =
present). This=20
man expressed that he was basically intending to stay on the course he's =
on and=20
that he is now officially reverting back to the old system (under which =
he was=20
the recipient of material benefit). I fought the urge there to remind =
him of the=20
infinitely more precious provision that Jesus provides, but was reminded =
he's shown himself to be of such state right now that such words would =
only fall=20
on deaf ears. So I remained silent and only nodded in agreement with =
him, that=20
this was indeed probably the best move for him at the =
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial=20
<DIV><SPAN class=3D051374920-13022009><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>While =
it's sad that=20
this man has heard and chosen something other than what God offers, it's =
unseen in history. Not a surprise to see it happen. In fact we're =
desirous of=20
keeping the integrity of Jesus's precious bride, the church. Fakers like =
gentleman are said in the bible to be as wolves among a flock of sheep;=20
dissentious and leading people away from the truth. Very dangerous, and =
given every indication that their presence and participation within the =
congregation is extremely undesired. It's not until they have the Holy =
within them and are recipients of God's promises that they receive any =
from, or themselves become a benefit to the other members of Christ's =
body. So=20
in that regard this thing happening was positive. Even more so because =
we seem=20
to maintain a peaceful standing with him for the time being. We =
certainly hope=20
that over time and the influence of the church here this man will =
eventually see=20
what is&nbsp;infinitely =

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