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Subject: Treating Your Pastor Like... rss

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(So, twice in the last couple of days I've been curious about a RSP tangent gaining momentum in a non-RSP thread. I'm trying to do the appropriate thing by responding in this forum instead of the original thread.)

So I've got a question for Brian (Coltsfan76) about some advice he gave to another user earlier today. The user was confronted by his pastor for playing Race for the Galaxy at church. The user was surprised and wanted to know how to approach the pastor to discuss the issue. Brian's advice:

ColtsFan76 wrote:
Why post this until you have talked to the pastor - or anyone else, for that matter, that has a dispute with you - first?

You have no idea what upset her: it could be the youth "ditching," the fact that there was an unscheduled event in the building, or she really thinks games are bad. But you won't know until you ask her. And she won't know about the games until you tell her.

If you find out the reason and then want to talk about what to do, that would be more appropriate. Instead, you need to follow Matthew 18:15-17.


I'm not a Christian. The application of this bible verse to this situation confused me because it sounded like, depending on the course of events, the user could perfectly well end up treating his pastor like "a pagan or a tax collector." I'm not saying this will happen or is even likely (who knows? I certainly don't know anything about the individuals in question), but I suspected I must be misinterpreting, and it's been nagging me enough that I thought I'd go ahead and ask Brian.

Let me be clear that there is no disrespect intended. I'm only confused because the Pastor, in this example, seems to be the licensed interpreter of the Bible, the expert, the authority figure, etc. Let's say she flatly rejects the original user's attempt at discussion. Is it possible for him to treat her "like a tax collector" and maintain an unperturbed Christian identity?

EDIT: original thread here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/333399
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Mark Jackson
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As a pastor myself (and someone who considers Brian my friend), let me jump in.

The Matthew 18 model is important because it insists that you start with the people who are ACTUALLY INVOLVED and that you don't "take it up a notch" until a good faith attempt is made to resolve the issue.

What Brian wrote is what I try to teach my congregation in dealing with me & with each other.
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Certainly. That part made good sense to me.

Perhaps my question seems stubbornly hypothetical ... but

Well, let me rephrase a little bit since you are a Pastor. Your stance is basically that churchgoers should come to you (or others) before escalating (on purpose or inadvertently) a misunderstanding. You are comfortable with the possibility, however small, that the group ("the church") could decide you were wrong and treat you "like a pagan or tax collector." The reason you are comfortable with this possibility is your confidence in your own kindness and knowledge of Christian principles, and that of your fellow Christians.

In short, as a Pastor, you are willing to be simply "a Christian" when applying bible verses.

Correct?

Sorry if it sounds like I'm being theoretical about something that's common sense to you!

Best,

Jack
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Ian Klinck
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There's been some discussion in our church about what that "treating [someone] like a pagan or tax collector" really means.

If you read the Gospels, most of the time when Jesus interacts with tax collectors, he's having dinner with them. I think there's ample evidence that the intent isn't that these people should be shunned or belittled.

Also, the call is for Christians to forgive those who sin against them. Correcting the other person's behaviour is secondary to this. However the exception is with your Christian "brothers & sisters". You are supposed to call them on their shortcomings, in the context of lovingly working with them in relationship, to help them be the best person they can be.

In this context, it could be argued that what's being said is "if they aren't responding to your efforts, just forgive them and let it go."

Of course, with your pastor, you'd hopefully reach a resolution before you got to that point.

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Hey Jack,

I don't really come up with the same summary of those couple of verses that you did. I did read it a couple of times, just to get it straight, even though I was vaguely familiar with the passage.

The advice conveyed in this passage, as I see it (and I'm NO pastor and NO Bible scholar):

If someone offends you, go to her or him first for resolution.

If you can't come to an agreement, you and your friend should talk to a few friends you both trust and admire, and see if you can find some resolution among you.

If you still can't come to any kind of agreement, you and your friend should go to the Church.

If you still can't come to any kind of agreement, after going in good faith to your friend himself, your mutual friends, and your faith leaders; there is no resolution, so walk away.

I think the context you provided, has the original respondent offering this verse as a way to encourage the original poster to go to his pastor (the one who offended him, right?) first before airing their dispute in public.

Does that help or just muddy the water?

Have a good one!
^lil^

edited out language that was unintentionally interpretable as snippy.
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Jack,

I thank you for inviting me over here and respecting the OP by pulling this into a new thread.

The passage is meant to be a guideline (and some may say more like a command) on how to reconcile with fellow Christians. It is meant as a step-by-step procedure. Each step is escalated and supposed to be avoided. The steps broken out would be this (my paraphrase).

1. if you have an issue with someone, or they have an issue with you, go talk to them.

Now, the point of this is that you just go talk. One of you may not realize the other is hurt by anything. Talking it out may eliminate most problems right then and there. But the implications is also that, both being Christians, you have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you and prompting you to reconcile. If both people have their heart in the right place, then they should both want to reconcile; they won't want to continue hurting you once they know their is an issue and the other party is wanting reconciliation.

What this also does is eliminate the possibility of gossip. Gossip will only rip people apart and make the situation worse. Now, people are getting involved that really don't know all that transpired. Keeping it between the two of you prevents this further decay of the situation.

So my original statement was to apply this in two situations - 1) go talk to the pastor and 2) don't air it out here (though it doesn't matter since we are not directly involved with either party).

2. If that fails, go take a couple other people along, and discuss the situation

Basically, this is saying one person tried but didn't get anywhere. Now get some others involved. Usually, this means an elder/pastor/deacon/leader. In other words, someone who has a bit more knowledge about the scriptures, someone who may have a bit more authority, and most importantly, someone who is not going to feed the gossip mill.

Note that the scripture doesn't specifically call for this. This is just the way I have seen it handled in the present day. But it could just as well be a common friend or some other equitable 3rd party in the church that both parties would tend to respect. Consider this an arbitrator like when two parties try to settle out of court.

In my 7 years in a church, this is as far as I have ever seen anything go. Because at this point, you have multiple people in sync with the Will of God and they can step back and see what is really going on. They can usually get this reconciled and may have to rebuke both parties.

3. If that fails, you bring it up before the church.

As I mentioned in the other thread, the term "church" that is used isn't the meaning that we toss around today. The "church" is actually the entire Christian realm. It is not a building and it is not just the leaders of a local congregation, it is the congregation, the membership, itself.

You basically have a final check and balance here. The issue is brought up and the church decides what should happen. The will of the people, as prompted by the Holy Spirit, will tell it like it is. If one or the other involved in the issue still won't reconcile, then it leads to step 4.

4. Still don't want to listen, you're out.

What this means is your are expelled from that local congreagtion. Doesn't mean you lost your salvation or you can't attend elsewhere, it just means you are no longer a member of that church.

This is important because a church needs to be unified. They do not have to think the same and do the same or agree all the time, but they need to work towards their one purpose: Glorifying God. And that can't really happen if someone is causing strife.

It also implies that the person may not be a "Christian" because he refuses to co-exist peacefully within the church. It is not our role to judge where others are spritiually but their actions tend to betray their beliefs. If they refuse to reconcile, even at this level and in front of everyone, there is no place for them in that body of believers.

And this doesn't mean the church won't forgive and accept that person back. It just means the church has done all they can, and all they are commanded to do, to make a reconciliation. They can wash their hands of it and wait until the person comes back and is ready to reconcile.

And yes, this can and does happen to pastors as well. Usually if it goes this far, a church splits. The Pastor either stays and a group of people leave. Or the pastor is forced out and a group of people follow. Not a pretty sight but it does happen too frenquently.

---

Now, in the situation given to us earlier today, I presented this passage as I would to any Christian friend having a dispute with anyone else. In fact, I have done this a lot in the past couple of years as two friends get into a spat and want to bad mouth the other. I tell them I don't want to hear about it, that they are friends with a misunderstanding and I encourage them to talk it out. And in my personal experience, this solves 95% of the problems.

I don't think the issue with Revelade and his pastor will go beyond this either. They need to just sit down and find out what happened. The pastor can explain her stance on why she reacted the way she did and he can express how she offended him and jumped to conclusions.

Maybe what will come of all this is that a proposal will need to be taken to the church council / business meeting / board of elders / whatever and a policy about using church facilities during church activities will be clarified. And maybe something better will come of this like Revelade being able to host a game night for the youth or anyone else interested.

But I certainly don't expect this to get to the point of someone being ejected from the membership. And that was not my intent when posting the scripture. It was to remind him of the Biblical principle on going to the pastor first instead of jumping to step 2 or 3 (coming here) and telling us.
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As a point of reference, the RFTG-church thread was not in the wrong forum. It did take that turn, but the OP was correct to put it in general gaming.
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Koldfoot wrote:
As a point of reference, the RFTG-church thread was not in the wrong forum. It did take that turn, but the OP was correct to put it in general gaming.


Agreed.
 
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JohnRayJr wrote:
Well, let me rephrase a little bit since you are a Pastor. Your stance is basically that churchgoers should come to you (or others) before escalating (on purpose or inadvertently) a misunderstanding. You are comfortable with the possibility, however small, that the group ("the church") could decide you were wrong and treat you "like a pagan or tax collector." The reason you are comfortable with this possibility is your confidence in your own kindness and knowledge of Christian principles, and that of your fellow Christians.

In short, as a Pastor, you are willing to be simply "a Christian" when applying bible verses.

Correct?

Sorry if it sounds like I'm being theoretical about something that's common sense to you!

Best,

Jack


That's OK - "being theoretical" - it helps me think through things!

And in this case, you're absolutely correct - as a pastor, I don't get a special position.

1 Timothy 5:19 (NAS) does apply here:

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

...but only to clarify the Matt. 18 process, not to overrule it.

In practical terms, anyone can have a problem with me as a pastor, due to my behavior or their perception of my behavior. They have a responsibility to confront me as a brother in Christ about things that are wrong. If I'm unwilling to deal with it, they are able to bring others into the situation in order to resolve it. In order to accuse me of wrongdoing & unrepentant behavior, there needs to be 2+ people who have witnessed this... which will happen as a part of the Matthew 18 process.

Jack, thanks for the thread & for your well-thought-out questions.
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Another issue that was briefly touched on in that thread was quoting Scripture to your pastor in an argument with him/her. Some people felt the pastor would be offended by this, others that it was appopriate and Christain behaviour (of course, the two aren't mutuallye exclusive!).

Like so many other things said in argument, the actual words are probably secondary to the tone and attitude conveyed with them. After all anyone can quote Scripture to back up an argument, and there is enough material that you can find at least superficial backing for very many positions. If you quote Scripture to your pastor merely to 'score points' and show him/her up as less well versed than you, it would be understandable if the pastor got annoyed. If you quote Scripture out of a genuine desire to understand how that passage fits with the pastor's stance, then the pastor should be more understanding. Of course, the pastor may well mistake the latter for the former.

Of course, these things may also vary as between different denominations. If your community adheres to sola scriptura quoting Scripture would seem more natural than to a church which also relies on Tradition. Still, more or less the same remarks could be applied to quoting the Catechism to a Catholic priest.
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JohnRayJr wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
As a point of reference, the RFTG-church thread was not in the wrong forum. It did take that turn, but the OP was correct to put it in general gaming.


Agreed.

Agreed as well. We had just moved beyond giving the OP advice and took things for a turn that would be better discussed here. As, I mentioned already, I appreciate Jack wanting to continue this discussion elsewhere and really respect him for doing that.
 
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Another issue that was briefly touched on in that thread was quoting Scripture to your pastor in an argument with him/her. Some people felt the pastor would be offended by this, others that it was appopriate and Christain behaviour (of course, the two aren't mutuallye exclusive!).


Yeah, and I am not sure how we went down that tangent. I don't recall anyone advising him to throw scripture at here. We were just using scripture to solidify our advice to him on how to handle it. The scripture quoted wouldn't convince her anyway, unless he tossed out the argument: You have to listen to me, the Bible says so!

But since it was brought up, I still feel that you could approach a pastor with scripture. Christians talking about the Bible is not a negative thing - which is what was implied in that thread. It was also stated that it was the dumbest thing ever even if you were right and approached it in a non-confrontational tone.

The pastor should know scripture better than anyone but that is not always the case. First, even if they know the Bible forwards and backwords, there is a lot of material in there and a helpful reminder is never a bad thing.

Second, I have almost always found at least one person that is not the pastor that actually does know more about the Bible. Our pastor often relies on a lady in our church who has been memorizing scripture for probably 70 years now. He may know the general thought of it but not the location. He turns to her (not during the service of course) and she can usually spit out the address and exact passage.

Finally, some people just cling to certain passages and "know" them better than others. This may be because of having more study on it, having a special connection to it, or having just read it recently. I will always remember a couple years back our church was having trouble as we wrestled with two services each with their own style of music during worship. The old guard got nasty and the young guard wasn't yielding ground. Our pastor was worn'out from being in betwen it all. We were in a meeting and I told him of a passage in Psalm I had just read that said "Sing a new song unto the Lord." He responded with a "Hmmm, that's a a good one, I forgot about it." he jotted it down and I thought nothing more about it but was glad it picked his spirits up a bit. The next week, it was his sermon message! And that message appeased quite a few people and we were able to move forward.

So we, as Christians, should encourage each other with scripture. It is useful for many things as my quote of 2 Timothy 16-17 showed.
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Avenell wrote:
To further clarify the part about pagans and tax collectors:

2 Thess 3:
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

It's part of the Biblical principle of separation. We are called to love tax collectors and pagans, but we are not called to hang out with them and be their best mates. You can witness to a prostitute or invite one around for dinner and try and help them, but you can't keep going to brothels and be seen in 200 photo's with the local madam interacting on a daily basis as the best of friends.

That's how we interact with unsaved people - we are "in" the world, but we are not a "part" of it. Once you get to the final step in church discipline, the offender gets removed from the church and then we treat them like we would any other unsaved person (even if we think they're still saved). We admonish them as brothers, but we don't keep hanging out socially with the guy who just keeps on committing adultery. No hate, they're still brothers/sisters, but we're commanded to separate from them.

Think about it this way, if you were a pastor years back and everyone knew you as the best friend of Al Capone, how would that look? In all the photo's you've got your arm around his - pictures of you with his family and business associates? If you were really his friend and a Christian, you'd have to warn him and then say "sorry mate, but we can't keep being best friends if you insist on being a gangster".


I'm bothered by this post, but I can't put my finger on why. I'm going to have to think about this & try to explain myself later.

For the time being, I know I'm having trouble with two things:

1. the difference between befriending/loving the lost & placing ourselves in compromising positions...
2. how to integrate 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 into this view:

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
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Tough call. I think it goes to the old adage: "Love the sinner, hate the sin." But there comes a point when that "sinner" can be a cancer in a church that is not healthy to others. At that point it is better to expel them and let them work it out on their own.
 
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ColtsFan76 wrote:
Tough call. I think it goes to the old adage: "Love the sinner, hate the sin." But there comes a point when that "sinner" can be a cancer in a church that is not healthy to others. At that point it is better to expel them and let them work it out on their own.


No disagreement, Brian. I believe in & practice (only when necessary & hopefully with a great deal of compassion & grace) church discipline.

I think what I'm reacting to is a "hands off" approach to dealing with those who have not crossed the line of faith. In an attempt to explain the "pagan & tax collectors" reference, I'm afraid we may have strayed into territory where we redefine "in the world but not of it" into something more akin to "in the world but not loving them".

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. (Matthew 18:17)

I think it's VERY important that we look at Jesus' instruction here in the context of his audience - pagans (non-Jews) and tax collectors (traitors to Judaism who worked with the Roman occupiers & skimmed $ off their tax collecting) are the lowest of the low. (That's the reason Jesus uses a tax collector as the hero of his parable in Luke 18.) He is not suggesting that the way that pagans & tax collectors are currently treated is a good thing - his example of eating w/them & picking a tax collector as a disciple seem pretty clear evidence against this - but that the appropriate behavior for unrepentant brother/fellow believer is to be excluded in the same manner in which the "lowest of the low" were shunned.

I'm not advocating brothel visitation or crackhouse evangelism... OTOH, we who love Jesus need to export His love outside the church building & into the lives of those who need His power & His grace.

If:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 2:9)

And:

Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:29-32)


Then:

The heart (2 Peter) and the example (Luke 5) of Jesus compels us to move into the lives of those without Christ.
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There is a difference between eating with the pagans and tax collectors (let's call it witnessing) and accepting them into your fellowship and counting them as one of your own (membership into the local body of Christ).

I guess I don't see these as contradictory statements. The above falls in line with you can, "Be in the world, but not of the world." What am I missing here?
 
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gamemark wrote:
2. how to integrate 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 into this view:

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

Could the difference lie in the audiences each verse was addressing? Christ was speaking to the laity, while Paul's epistles were to church fathers. It then could make sense that Paul warns against associating with jerks, 'cos it's a bad tactical move for a new faith trying to take root. Christ has some leeway to embrace whores and tax collectors, 'cos he's not as concerned with earthly political considerations...

?
 
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ColtsFan76 wrote:
There is a difference between eating with the pagans and tax collectors (let's call it witnessing) and accepting them into your fellowship and counting them as one of your own (membership into the local body of Christ).

I guess I don't see these as contradictory statements. The above falls in line with you can, "Be in the world, but not of the world." What am I missing here?


Let me take another shot at this...

1. eating/drinking w/pagans & tax collectors
- example of Jesus
- clearly Biblically appropriate
- modern-day equivalent: spending time w/non-believers on their turf

2. accepting them into your church as one of your own
- clearly Biblically inappropriate (see the teachings of Paul)
- modern-day equivalent: giving membership and/or leadership to someone who has not surrendered themselves to Christ

My concern is that in our attempts to be faithful to (2) we end up creating a pale, weak & unchristlike version of (1). It's the No Man's Land between the two where we form "relationships" whose sole purpose is creating an opportunity to "share the Gospel" (read: ask our canned questions & shoot our prepared outline of Scriptures at them)... and where we ditch those "relationships" as soon as it is apparent they won't be signing on the dotted line any time soon.

I think I finally have a handle on what I was bothered about earlier - I felt like the post used the "pagan & tax collector" part of Matt. 18 as a justification for a superficial & standoffish way of dealing with the lost.

Does that make better sense, Brian?
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Holmes! wrote:
gamemark wrote:
2. how to integrate 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 into this view:

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

Could the difference lie in the audiences each verse was addressing? Christ was speaking to the laity, while Paul's epistles were to church fathers. It then could make sense that Paul warns against associating with jerks, 'cos it's a bad tactical move for a new faith trying to take root. Christ has some leeway to embrace whores and tax collectors, 'cos he's not as concerned with earthly political considerations...

?


I see where you're going with that... but I think that's reading backwards into the text. Relying on that interpretation requires us to assume some things about the nature of Jesus that aren't explicit in the Gospels. It would also require us to ignore that Paul's letters were read & used for teaching in the early church, not simply the Asia Minor version of Rick Warren's weekly e-mail to pastors.

BTW, interesting juxtaposition of microbadges, my friend...
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Yes, that helps me understand your concern more clearly.

And it helps me clearly understand where I fall on the issue. I can see where too much of "2" can cause a weakened "1." But in my experience, I have been able to handle both fairly well (not always of course). And those Christians around me do a pretty good job of applying both. So I guess this is where I was having trouble seeing a conflicting issue. But I think we are on the same page now!

An example of this for me is that there are two of us strongly identified as Christian among the Project Managers at work. Tom focuses a bit too much on the "2" as you mentioned: he appears arrogant to them, refuses to do anything with them outside of work, and usually just scolds them for playing "their Devil music too loud." His nickname was "Flanders" and he is constantly mocked. As you can imagine, their impression of Christianity was pretty sour when I arrived.

Perhaps I cut it too close to the edge for Josh, but I am willing to go to extra events with them, like Bears games or will head down to the neighborhood bar occasionally on paydays. But I refuse to drink alcohol with them. I order a Sprite and will stick around for a bit. That was tough on them for a bit as they tried to wrestle with that but they eventually accepted it. I can go to the bathroom with no worries that my glass is still straight up Sprite when I return. I don't look down on them and can joke and gain their confidence without hurting anyone - including myself. It has opened the door and we have had frequent religious discussion on our floor. And those that mock Tom the most, will gladly open up to me about their questions and fears of religion.

I walk a fine line and if I feel myself stepping over, I excuse myself from those events for a while. But I never judge or criticize. I always invite them to activities at my church that I think they will enjoy and can reach them. But most of all, I just listen.

And I have also chatted with Tom and tried to de-Flanderize him. He goes out to lunch, doesn't yell so much, and reaches them a bit more than he used to.

I hope this is what as meant to live in the world without being of it. Otherwise, I may need to pray about it some more and try again!
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Mark Jackson
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Avenell wrote:
Once your behaviour in interacting with the unsaved means folks will have a hard time figuring out who is saved and who is lost, you've stepped over the bounds.


How about:

Quote:
Once your behavior in interacting with the unsaved means other unsaved folks have a hard time figuring out who is save & who is lost, you've stepped over the bounds.


Confusing the religious leadership didn't seem to bother Jesus:

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
Luke 5:30-32 (NIV)




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Mark Jackson
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Avenell wrote:
And then well meaning pastors get up before these people and tell them it's okay to head back to the pub you were in before you got saved, hanging out with the folks who were influencing you before you got you saved, because Jesus would do it and it's for the good of the Gospel. And then the bitter stories start to come back "I was just planning on having a quick beer but...." And then you are trying to tell your children that going to parties and bars is a bad choice - but Brother so-and-so is there every week and they know it. Up goes the stumblingblock.

At the end of the day, I think within many churches the motive of people who refuse to separate themselves from worldly activities is to please their own flesh. Witnessing is tacked on as a justification.


While I hear you loud & clear, let me assure you that my personal approach to speaking about this stuff is tempered with tough talk about discernment - if getting sauced was/is a problem for you, NO witnessing in bars.

Andy Stanley said it beautifully at a youth camp I went to years ago - "Your spiritual life is more important than your friend's spiritual life." He went on to flesh out this truth - witnessing is NEVER an excuse for behavior that draws you away from Jesus. The logic is glaring: if, by falling into sin, you win someone to faith in Christ, exactly what kind of faith will they have learned by your example?

There's also an issue of trusting God - which we in the evangelical church have undercut by our "you're the only Jesus that some will ever see" rhetoric that we've used to guilt people into evangelism & good behavior. If God is really sovereign, then He can use whoever & whatever (ex-murderers, talking donkeys & so on) to confront people with the truth of His existence and their need for Christ. He does NOT need us to blow up our spiritual lives in order to win people to Jesus.

Josh, I want you to know that I'm with you on this - if preachers are encouraging people into areas of temptation, then they're in the wrong. I think, however, that much of this is an issue of personal choice ("I know the truth & I'm going to choose to bend it to fit my lifestyle") than it is of pastoral ignorance.

Again, the burr in my saddle in this conversation is that those of us with maturity & discernment (the ability to figure out where & when it is wise for us to engage people for the sake of the good news) will retreat within in our proverbial shells because we're afraid of being a "stumbling block" or incurring the displeasure of religious people.

I'll get to the whole "stumbling block" thing in another post - I believe that the majority of evangelicals (and I are one!) have misused this passage.

Again, thanks for the civil conversation about important stuff!
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