[forthright] Body Responsibility / Unity in Diversity

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From: "Randal Matheny" <randal@...>
Date: Fri, 20 May 2005 20:32:43 -0300
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

Body Responsibility, by Tim Hall
Unity in Diversity, by Mitchell Skelton

COLUMN: Heavenly Connections

Body Responsibility
by Tim Hall

I flinch when I hear it. One of the members of the congregation I serve
has undergone surgery. A few days later I check on her progress, and am
glad to hear that she's recovering well. However, only one other person
has called to check on her though her surgery has been publicized. It's
not the first time I've heard such a discouraging report, and it likely
won't be the last.

Whose fault is this? Should blame be laid on the preacher, the elders,
the deacons? Exactly who is responsible for monitoring the welfare of
other members?

... As I swing my hammer, something goes wrong. Either my aim was off
just a bit or my thumb was out of position. At the moment of impact,
many things happen within my body. My vocal cords begin vibrating and my
lungs thrust air outward to produce a shriek of pain. At the same time,
muscles in my arm quickly spring to action to move my thumb toward my
mouth, already open to receive and soothe the offended digit. My legs
and feet begin convulsing as I bounce up and down, an action I can't
explain but which automatically follows such an injury. Tears push their
way through tear ducts in response to the surge of pain, a sensation
made possible by a complicated network of nerve cells. When I finally
coax my thumb out of my mouth, I note that extra quantities of blood
have rushed to the scene to help with the healing process.

A number of physical responses have taken place, and I didn't have to
take time to plan any of them. It's how a healthy body responds to
injury. ...

Now, back to our question about responsibility toward church members in
need: Doesn't the human body illustrate truths about the Lord's body?
Paul certainly thought so: "that there should be no schism in the body,
but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if
one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is
honored, all the members rejoice with it" (1 Corinthians 12:25,26,

Before beginning his ministry, Jesus worked as a carpenter (Mark 6:3).
Little is revealed to us about this work, but it's likely Jesus bruised
his thumb once or twice. As he looked upon the injured member, he could
take comfort in knowing the body (he had personally created) would
respond in marvelous ways to restore that thumb in minimal time. If the
body worked according to divine plan, healing was a certainty.

Jesus also designed the church, his body on earth (Colossians 1:24). As
we saw in the passage above, that body is also designed to nurture those
who are injured or in need. When the body works as it should, the
recovery process is certain.

Who is responsible for checking on members who hurt? We're all
responsible. And to the extent that any member fails to function
properly, the entire body is weakened.

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COLUMN: The X-Files

Unity in Diversity
by Mitchell Skelton

Conflict and controversy are two sure-fire ways of exciting people into
Bible study. Sadly, this kind of fire seldom resolves anything, rarely
incites people to go into the world to save the lost, and most often
causes division and even congregational splits. Words like "liberal" and
"legalist" are discussed in church meetings and brotherhood papers so
much that they seem to outnumber words that should be considered like
"missions," "saving the lost," and "fellowship." Brethren become
"experts" on the topic of discussion, and very often they become
"one-issue" Christians. If you do not believe as they believe then you
are a liberal and therefore must not be fellowshipped. Soon, these
brethren try to force their issue into every situation possible and onto
every person possible.

Brothers and sisters, it is time for this to end! It is time for the
Lord's church to stop majoring in minors. It is time for the Lord's
church to complete the mission Jesus set for us and "Go into all the
world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

Will there be a time when doctrine is assaulted and needs defending?
Sadly the answer is, "Yes." When these cases arise we must unite and
defend the faith, but not every issue discussed is a matter of faith or
fellowship. Jude wrote to the early Christians concerning this issue

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the
salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for
the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3).

Jude wanted to write a letter of encouragement to Christians to inspire
them in their evangelistic efforts, however, because of certain people
and problems he was forced to write a letter urging them to be unified.

Unity is not giving up the fight, as some perceive. Unity in diversity
is often a phrase that gets tossed around like a hot potato. We should
never compromise on the doctrine of Christ, yet who would claim that the
Lord's church is not made up of a group of people with diverse beliefs?
Paul urged the Christians at Rome to have unity in diversity. "Accept
him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters"
(Romans 14:1). In other words, Paul says, accept your brother without
giving thought to his differing opinion.

If Christians would strive to do as Jude commands and "contend for the
faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints," then we could do
away with much conflict and controversy. Later in Jude, those who cause
division are said to have gone the way of Balaam's error.

It is interesting that even Balaam, when he listened to God, got things
right. "How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I
denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced?" (Numbers 23:8).

When one is seeking to please God and is not violating God's commands,
then how can God's people denounce him? Paul says the same thing,

"Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he
stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him
stand" (Romans 14:4).

Do you agree or can we agree to disagree? 

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