We’re Still Family!
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I imagine when you have spirited disagreements in your Sabbath school that you don’t call each others fools, but that is what Paul does in his letter to the Galatians. 

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? Galatians 3:1 KJV

As I hope we are, Paul was very passionate about the gospel and theology. He seemed to have pretty thick skin about it. His passion for truth and the right, remind me of this quote. 

The greatest want of the world is the want of men—men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall. –Ellen White, Education, Page 57.

That passage sure sounds like Paul to me, but even though he had thick skin and a passion for standing for the right, and calling sin and incorrect theology by their right names, to the point of calling those who taught it “foolish,” he still had a soft heart. 

Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Galatians 3:15 NKJV

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Right after calling the Galatians, “foolish” he calls them his brothers! That’s why I think he had thick skin and a soft heart. As crazy as he thought the Galatians were, he still thought of them as family. Now I don’t suggest calling people in your Sabbath school class “fools” when you have a spirited disagreement, but I do suggest still considering them family. You have seen me share this quote a few times before, and here I go again,

In Wesley’s time, as in all ages of the church’s history, men of different gifts performed their appointed work. They did not harmonize upon every point of doctrine, but all were moved by the Spirit of God, and united in the absorbing aim to win souls to Christ. -Ellen White, Great Controversy, Page 257.

God wants us to stand for the right though the heavens fall. He wants us to preach the pure gospel. God also wants us to understand that when fellow believers disagree with us, they may be doing their honest best to follow the Holy Spirit, and they are still our brothers and sisters. 

Amen!(36)

Comments

We’re Still Family! — 5 Comments

  1. Paul’s objective for the churches he established was functional relationships. This was seen in his commitment to them regardless of how badly they got off the path of righteousness. His council to them in his letters and his example in person provided tools for functional interpersonal relationships. He invested his time in them and worked for their wellbeing through the respect, support and consideration he showed in his relationships with them.

    All this was founded on Jesus Christ’s revelation of love to him. It formed the basis of his practice of love personified in Christ. Paul's appreciation and affection for those in his care is obvious, even when the truth must be spoken in love. He was ever aware of God’s love displayed in cross event. True love can be healing, comforting and feel good, but it can also be awful in action and consequence, and evocative of “fear and trembling”.

    I am thankful for all of the problems and dysfunctional issues in the apostolic church because the letters and gospels of the Christian testament that responded to those issues have worked together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, for more than two millennia.

    Amen!(12)
  2. We are still family. Thank-you for that William. During the 90's at a church fairly near where you are in Florida we sang

    "I'm so glad I'm apart of the family of God, I've been washed in the fountain cleansed by His blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod, for I'm part of the family the family of God."

    Singing this every Sabbath for 4 years I do believe brought us closer as brothers and sisters. And helped us take correction with a contrite heart, and without aminosity as brothers and sisters should.

    Amen!(1)
  3. Well, dogone!
    Mr. Ferguson, and Mr. Herscher.
    Then I'd need to ask y'all to pray for me.
    Because of what I went through with a church last fall, and til the start of the new year, and gotta say,
    I came to the point where I couldn't stay anymore. Even after Four years of attendance.

    Because, Besides a doctrinal difference, it came to a head last fall, when it was obvious that the pulpit was being used in a push to sway voting decisions.
    Umm, I've heard believers are to be active In their local and politics at large, but it just seemed to serve as the straw for me at that point.
    And whether, I seemed like "the bad guy" didn't matter, because Besides the foregoing insult-to-injury (just explained), I was already harboring ills, and due to an ill-fated interaction ending, barely a Relationship-seemingly, with this seemingly very conscious doctrinal misleading by this flock's "pastor"-and his associate pastors-which ultimately led me to break fellowship, of which, I still feel bad about, because a couple folks were like family there, after all.
    It's just, I was so convicted, in myself, especially after the sermons where he promoted this false doctrine.
    I don't know.
    But thank You for considering my prayer request.

    Amen!(0)
    • Well, Jim Sibert, I am praying for you.

      I think I can understand just a little of what you went through, because we've had our own times of disagreement within the "family," and it wasn't always pleasant.

      Let me just share one little story:
      We lived in a mountainous area, removed from larger population centers by several hours. But there were a group of 8 or 9 families, including us, meeting together. Most of these people were also members of a would-be "self-supporting institution." They had been there before we arrived and welcomed us with open arms.

      We had young children, as did several other families. So, as you can imagine, we felt like family, with the children especially looking forward to Sabbaths together.

      Then there came a time when we began to disagree on the use of funds for the "self-supporting institution" versus the church. I was treasurer of the little church group.

      In our regular business meetings, we sometimes got the impression that some decisions had been made in a private meeting before we got there. However, after presenting how we saw things and discussing things together, we all voted together for the same outcome. It looked like family harmony.

      Then one day we came to a meeting (Was it a prayer meeting? I don't remember. Just remember it was an evening meeting.) We were confronted by all the members of the group, except another family who lived withing a few miles of us. We were told that the devil had been working through us to disrupt the harmony of the group. (As near as we could determine by thinking it through afterwards, their reasoning was that it must be supernatural power that caused them to vote in line with our thinking after they had firmly determined to do something altogether different.) We were told that they had written to "the conference" to tell them of our disruptive influence. (We never heard from "the conference," which was right, since local churches or groups are supposed to solve their own differences.)

      There was more along the same lines. Much more. It seemed to last for an eternity. I remember being in a total state of shock and just listening in silence. My husband did the same. I just kept thanking God that he didn't speak up and that he kept me from speaking up. I distinctly remember being thankful that we were the recipients of such an attack and not the attackers.

      The meeting did not conclude until the main spokesperson told us that they were sure we would be more comfortable meeting with the family living out our way than to continue meeting with them. I think there must have been prayer. We left, still in a state of shock.

      It was the next morning that I fell apart. I threw myself across my bed, wept and cried out to God, What will we do?! How could we possibly explain this to our children?

      God was faithful: The only person in the world who would have some understanding of local dynamics was an experienced pastor who lived thousands of miles away. He possessed the property on which these folks near us lived. He called by phone and asked, "How are you?" Such a simple question for which the correct answer is usually "fine." Well, I am not known for predictable responses, and I told him exactly how things were. I think he stayed on the phone with me over an hour and prayed with me along the way. We never did find out why he had actually called, except that I was sure God had moved him to call - probably for some trivial reason. I still had no real answer, just the assurance that God had heard me.

      Back to the "family" issue. my husband and I discussed the matter, prayed it over and decided to go meet with the group the following Sabbath as we had always done. It was especially difficult since we were meeting at the home of the leader who had invited us *not* to meet with them any more. We told our children nothing. Put on our best smiles, as usual, and knocked on the door. The host seemed at first taken aback, and then invited us in as he might have done if that meeting had never happened.

      I don't remember for how long we met after that ... before the group broke up, people moved away, and the church phone rang at our house. (Those were interesting years too. )

      It was years later that the main spokesperson at that infamous meeting thanked my husband for our intervention in the way things were headed in that little group. We were pleased to know that they appreciated the positive changes that followed. The woman who was a co-leader in the meeting also expressed her appreciation. And about 30 years later (not so long ago) the woman called me to ask forgiveness for what she had done ... I could not recall anything for which she needed to be forgiven, but assured her that she was forgiven for whatever she had done.

      So why am I sharing this?

      We may have doctrinal differences in the family of God, but we are still family. People may behave badly, may even cast us out, but we are still family. After all, God is still our Father.

      As long as we still believe the major teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where else can we go? If we have been sinned against, Christ has likely forgiven us more sins than we need to forgive. And remember that in the prayer He taught us to ask for forgiveness of our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Can we afford not to forgive? If we want to live with God in heaven eventually, we need to practice living out his self-renouncing love in the here and now. Jesus can do it through us, if we will submit.

      Until you go back and act like a Christian in that congregation, you have no idea what God would like to accomplish through you. Perhaps He only wants to work on your character - to take off some edges and refine you - or maybe He wants to do something through you in that congregation. Take it to the Lord, and then DO what He impresses you to do.

      I am praying for you.

      Amen!(2)
  4. I will keep you in my prayers Jim also. Look unto Jesus. He is the author and finisher of life. We learned in our lesson recently that in Paul's troubles with the Galatians, he kept them as his brothers and sisters. How did he do that? He allowed the hand of the Holy Spirit to keep his hand on Christ. DA page 175.4.

    Amen!(0)

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