[forthright] "Those That Honor Me, I Will Honor"/Does This Divide the Body?

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2005 13:46:02 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

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"Those That Honor Me, I Will Honor" by Stan Mitchell
Does This Divide the Body? (Thoughts on 1 Cor. 12:25 & Gal. 3:28-29) by 
Barry Newton
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COLUMN: Reality Check

"Those That Honor Me, I Will Honor"
by Stan Mitchell

An anonymous writer slipped Eric a note. It was a
Biblical quotation, from 1 Samuel 2:30. It said,
"Those that honor me, I will honor." It must have
given him great encouragement, for Eric had just
turned his back on a lifelong dream because of his
conviction.

Eric was fast. He had worn the red and white of
the Scottish rugby team, using his sheer pace and
long legs to "burn" would-be defenders. He was a
sprinter, too, one of the fastest men in Britain.

And he was a minister in the solid and staid
Church of Scotland. I often wonder how many boys
and young men were influenced to see Christianity
as a manly lifestyle when they saw their rugged
sports hero win races ... and proclaim his faith
in Christ.

Eric was on the British team that went to the 1936
Olympics in Paris. The track and field week began
with heats, qualifying rounds for the one hundred
yards sprint final at the end. Eric Liddel was a
favorite to win a gold medal.

But Liddel's heat was scheduled for a Sunday, and
no God-fearing Presbyterian minister could play
games on a Sunday. This young man was put under
intolerable pressure, from family, teammates, and
country. Why not run, just this one Sunday? Why
not increase your influence for God by winning one
more race? Why not compromise conviction, just
this once?

I often wondered what that young man must have
felt like that Sunday. While he was in church,
someone else was winning the qualifying heat. Eric
Liddel, rugby champion and Olympic hero drew his
strength from somewhere other than his physical
prowess. There were matters of greater importance
to Eric than a mere Olympiad played out before the
eyes of the world. Though his actions no doubt
baffled his countrymen, and infuriated his team
mates, no one was in any doubt about one thing:
There was no one in Eric Liddel's life more
important than his God!

So when Christ calls on you to give up an hour or
so on a Sunday, tell me, please, will you be
giving honor to God ... or be off to the races?

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COLUMN: Hands-on Faith

Does This Divide the Body? (Thoughts on 1 Cor. 12:25 & Gal. 3:28-29)
by Barry Newton


Sitting comfortably in a living room, a few
Christians cordially but earnestly discussed their
differing views. Normally you could characterize
them as being of one mind, but today a logjam
threatened. If you find the following details of
the initial story irksome and perhaps petty, this
is to your advantage, for then perhaps you are
clearly perceiving the principle involved in an
easy piece. If so, then consider the second not-
so-easy exercise.

The heart of the discussion on that day centered
around the concept of unity and phrases like,
"there should be no division in the body."/1
Because of what the scriptures teach about unity,
the claim had been advanced that a congregation
should not utilize small groups since these would
divide the body of Christ.

Of course, the problem with this rationalization
against small groups involves failing to recognize
the limitation of what is criticized in scripture.
The biblical denunciations against division
involve warnings against becoming embroiled in
carnal warring factions, following false teachings
and despising fellow believers. This biblical
concern over schisms has nothing at all to do with
the geography of where God's people might meet.
Even if a congregation of God's people might meet
in separate locations during the week, they are
still unified. The disharmony of division has not
overtaken them.

When meanings are allowed to grow beyond the
purview of the author's intentions, a message
foreign to scripture will be infused into the
text. Stated conversely, to accurately understand
a biblical message involves limiting what the text
can mean for us to what the author intended to
convey.

Consider how this principle bears upon Galatians
3:28-29. In these verses, Paul affirmed that
unlike our world entrenched within its various
forms of barriers and caste systems, the body of
Christ is manifestly different. God's wonderful
promise of providing an inheritance can be claimed
equally by all without regard to race or status.
While physically a Christian might be a Jew or a
Gentile, a male or a female, in Christ the
salvation of sonship is equally received and
enjoyed. As Paul explained, "what I am saying is
... because God has made you a son you are also an
heir."/2 Everybody receives the same!

But what happens if an interpreter does not limit
the equality Paul articulates to receiving an
inheritance, but rather extends this to other
arenas such as the context of worship? Suddenly,
the interpreter has infused a message into the
text (and undoubtedly will subsequently pull it
out under the banner of 'Paul teaches'), that
there are no gender roles in the context of
worship! Huh? Well, if that's valid reasoning and
not taking something out of context, then maybe
small groups are unbiblical.

1/ 1 Corinthians 12:25
2/ Galatians 4:1,7

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