[forthright] More Than Just From A Distance/Dissonance

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005 14:50:21 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

More Than Just From A Distance by Barry Newton
Dissonance by Stan Mitchell

COLUMN: Hands-on Faith

More Than Just From A Distance
by Barry Newton

 From a distance, how do people appear to you?
Bette Midler sings, "from a distance you look like
my friend." Meeting someone who has a new SUV,
designer sunglasses, a sun tan with a knockout
hairstyle, gold jewelry or flashy clothes can have
a way of causing us to think, "this person looks
like someone I would like to get to know better."

What a bitter taste is left in our mouths if we
discover the distance contributed to a facade.
Perhaps up close you discovered a self-centered
leech who had no clue about real friendship.
Perhaps up close an inconsiderate, crude,
manipulative, unforgiving or abusive personality
came into crystal clear view.

Repeated disappointments contribute toward
developing a hard crust of cynicism. Jesus'
disciples are to be breaths of fresh air into a
stale world constructed out of materialistic
designer facades. Disciples who live up to their
purpose look great even close up. They are an
infusion of salt and light into a world trapped in
a stifling vortex of mistrust and cynicism.

Peter's words are as relevant today as they were
then. "Your beauty should not come from outward
adornment ... instead, it should be that of your
inner self" (1 Peter 3:3). While Peter's intent
was to instruct women, the principle he describes
is equally applicable to men. Men can be just as
guilty in trying to call attention to themselves
through appearances.

Some have mistakenly understood Peter's words to
be a prohibition against any use of outward
adornment. In other words, disicples must appear
plain. A closer reading of the context reveals the
prohibition is not against using all forms of
outward adornment, but rather in depending upon
external appearances to create our attractiveness.
The appeal of Jesus' disicple should emanate from
his or her character and behavior. Here is a
beauty that thrives up close even under the
brightest of lights.

Our world knows all about phonies. Jesus
challenges his people to exhibit what this parched
world is thirsty for, such as: genuine love,
forgiveness, thoughtfulness, and being a conduit
of God's healing for broken lives. When God's
people are attractive to others from more than
just from a distance, their usefulness to God as
salt and light will be evident.

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COLUMN: Reality Check

by Stan Mitchell

The most precious thing on earth must be the
church, for Jesus bought it at an historically
high cost, his blood. We wear his name, bear his
likeness, and live to honor him alone. Which is
why division in the church is so baffling. What
principle was so high, so unyielding, that the
church could justifiably be split? What issue of
eternal consequence was so great that Christians
would have to leave? Most importantly, what does
division do to a church?

It presents a divided message to the community. It
teaches our young people that their brethren are
expendable. If we don't get our way, we can just
"ditch" them and go our own way. It teaches that
forgiveness is unnecessary.

It allows those who don't want to repent to jump
ship rather than change. It disillusions the weak.
They see the rancor and simply give up
Christianity altogether.

It discourages God's servants, those who remain to
preach, teach, shepherd and serve. The load on
them is heavier now, and the knowledge that they
supposedly "failed" those who left leaves them
wondering if their service for the Lord was

It almost always places the blame on the wrong
people. Those who remain, those who continue to
lead and teach and work are the ones at fault.
"We" who left, who divided the church, were the
truly "spiritual ones," you see.

Scripture teaches against dividing God's people,
not once, not twice, but time and time again.
Nothing could be clearer. In God's eyes, his
people are precious, his church blood bought, his
body inviolable.

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's
temple, and that God's Spirit lives in you? If
anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy
him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that
temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16).

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