To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Fellowship’ Category

S.S. SIOSA

It is good to have S.S SIOSA as a motif for life. To embrace teh principles within thsi acronym is to set yourself up well for life. Livinng out S.S. SIOSA will make you a valuable person to have in any community of people. So what am I referring to here?

I am thinking about those situations in life where you are responsible for causing a difficulty, problem or just generally messing others around. Upon being aware of this immediately call S.S. SIOSA to mind. So you will:

  • Say Sorry: Go to the person(s) involved and apologize for what you have done wrong. Apologise to the doctor if you have missed an appointment. Apologise to your boss if you have forgotten to do some work. Wherever you are responsible apologise for your actions or non-actions.
  • Sort it out: Speak the matter through with the relevant parties so that you all now know how you are going to move ahead. Alternatively you may just have to write an email to inform others how you are going to rectify things.
  • Straight Away: When you become aware of having messed someone around unnecessarily get on to the matter immediately; do not delay. Allow no wounds to fester; allow no confusion to drag on. Leaving matters for a time tends to poison matters as people stew upon why you messed them around.

So enlist the S.S. SIOSA in your life and you will have gained a good life skill. And if everyone one lived out this motif marriages, families, churches, work places, communities and nations would all be better and happier places.

For Whom Christ Died

1 Corinthians 8 addresses the issue of how we interact with one another when we see things differently. In particular it is when we see that we have freedom in Christ to act in a certain way, whilst another Christian does not feel comfortable in engaging in that same behavior.

In such a situation we need to be careful about how we speak and act towards such a fellow Christian. Our freedom should never be a means for bringing the other brother to stumble in their faith.

Paul reaches the apogee of his argument when he speaks of how the brother you souls stumble is one for whom Christ died (see 1 Cor. 8:11. Christ gave up all of His freedom. That freedom entailed eternally and joyously being in the favour of God and heaven. He relinquished that in order to go to the degradation of the cross.  And he did all that in order to bring eternal blessing to your brother.

In view of that won’t I (and won’t you) be very careful about indulging our freedom in Christ. We should always act circumspectly to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Moreover, the passage continues in 1 Corinthians 8:12 to say:   Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. How serious this all is. When you act to hurt your brother you hurt one who is in the body of Christ. Thereby you hurt Christ. 

It is one of those things to have always in our minds in dealing with fellow Christians that they are ones for who Christ died. “One for who Christ died” is the label they wear.

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Church Membership And Disobedience

The assumption of the New Testament is that every Christian is a member of a church in their locality. In this church they share fellowship, serve their Lord and submit to the elders.

Two scriptures that alert us to this expectation are:

  • Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. This is the instruction of Hebrews 13:17. Clearly implicit in this text is that the elders know who they are responsible for and the church know who they re responsible to.
  • So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord (1 Cor, 5:4-5). Paul here is indicating that the the man guilty of outrageous sin in having an affair with his step-mother should be removed form the church. In v13 they are told to expel him. This person is handed over to the realm of Satan; that is the world. there are only two realms the world and the church. If you are not a church member you are in Satan’s realm; the church.

I suggest that there are only two reasons why a Christian is not in church membership:

  • They are in the process of regularizing their situation and becoming a church member. They must sort this out as soon as possible.
  • They are “under discipline” and thereby excluded from church membership. In such a situation they need to repent and be restored to the church.

I feel we too easily excuse Christians from not becoming church members. It is after all very much the spirit of the age not to commit to things. However, this is all surely wrong. We should, I feel, name it for what it is and that is disobedience.

I feel that we should be more inclined towards treating any professing Christian who refuses to be a church member as a non-christian. They have after all chosen the realm of  Satan, the world over against the realm of God, the church. So they should be treated as unbelievers.

I Need Other Christians

I need to see their faces, I need to know that they are still trusting in Christ. Their attendance at church is important to me because it means they are still determined to affiliate with those who want to confess Christ. They may come and be there and play no public part, but their being there has a power in itself.

I need them because I am weak. I so easily drift towards unbelief. Sometimes life can feel overwhelming. But when I know that there are saints who have traversed and are traversing the pathway of grace through some difficult trials, I can be encouraged to know that this is the right path. Christ truly is the Way.

It is hard for me to understand how Christians can regularly absent themselves from the congregation of the saints. They must be stronger Christians than me! When I pray with other believers it can be such an encouragement to know that we share the same God through the same Saviour by the same Spirit.

Now, no doubt we can meet other believers online or in our history books and that can be very good. But there is something special about seeing them face-to-face. I close with John’s desires concerning the elect lady:

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete (2 John 12).

(Originally published at Venabling on November 23rd 2017)

Asking Questions

I was with a friend recently and what struck me was his desire to ask questions. He is in many ways more knowledgeable biblically and spiritually than me, but was still desirous to ask me about my view on various matters. This opened up helpful conversation.

I was left pondering upon how this should not be such a unique happening, and concerned that it is something that I don’t experience that often. In many ways I came away warmed and encouraged from our time together. It made me think about prayerfully preparing for time with others through writing down or logging in my mind questions about issues I am either struggling with or would like help in understanding. I can then ask questions about these issues when I meet with others. Through this preparation these times together can be found to be so much more beneficial.

I was somewhat humbled that he would like my view on various issues. I felt encouraged by this. I am not sure how helpful my responses were, but his openness and willingness to interact and seek the opinion of myself left me buoyed that I might have something to offer people.

Alas it seems so very often that so many Christians are not asking questions and our times together are impoverished by this. A question in a group or other context can open up so much good conversation.

Why is it that people do not ask questions. Perhaps it is because they either know the answers to everything they come across in Scripture or they are not reading the scriptures or they are reading the Scriptures very superficially.

So I am challenged myself to ask questions so as to benefit from others people’s wisdom Also I encourage you to think about asking questions, you never know what blessing might come as a result.

We Assemble.

Hindus go to their temples and Muslims go their mosques, to perform their religious acts, The equivalent could be said for so many other religions. Accordingly, their buildings are places where you drop-in to to get your religion done and then go again. Not so with the faith of God.

God’s plan is for His people to come together and be church. The church by definition has a ‘called together’ metaphor within its meaning. Ekklesia literally means “called out ones”. We are called out from the world so as to be together. We do not come to church to do our religion we come to be together to worship, to learn, to sing, to interact.

Now in emergency situations online churches can be permissible. But surely that is not the way it should be. Rather we need to see each other faces and be together. This then conditions the rest of oust lives. Although we may not be physically together 24/7 there is a sense in which we are together all the time in spirit.

This theme is all aptly expressed in the Hymn “Blessed Be The Tie That Binds by John Fawcett:

  1. Blest be the tie that binds
    Our hearts in Christian love;
    The fellowship of kindred minds
    Is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne,
    We pour our ardent prayers;
    Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
    Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. We share our mutual woes,
    Our mutual burdens bear;
    And often for each other flows
    The sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part,
    It gives us inward pain;
    But we shall still be joined in heart,
    And hope to meet again.

If you claim to be a Christian and you are not a “meeting together” person then you are denying what you are called to be.

Experts.

I lamented here about the observation that there are not many listeners around. In this article I want to muse upon the fact there appear to be quite a few experts. It has struck me on occasion, recently, about how people so easily present themselves as experts about certain matters. I am left thinking sometimes about how they can make such statements.

There well, may be, a direct connection to my observations about the lack of listeners yesterday. Rather than simply listening to people and helping them work through situations, we so often feel that we have to say something that will direct people to a solution. So we give the expert advice which will sort the matter for the person.

No, I am not saying here that we should not make suggestions or observations about a person’s situation. Particularly if that person is putting themselves in danger, it would be unloving to withhold information which would deliver them from potential harm. For a parent of younger children not to be directive to their children would be a gross dereliction of duty.

So most definitely there can be a time to opine on a matter. However, I do feel that the way we present things needs to be thought about. Making suggestions about a matter can be helpful. Moreover, if you have particular training in a certain subject or have been through a particular experience which bears on the other person’s situation then sharing in these matters can be most helpful.

One negative instance was that of someone with no medical training and without examining me definitively stating that a doctor’s diagnosis was wrong, A doctor that is who had examined me for a certain complaint.  I found this quite breathtaking.

I appreciate as well that there are cultural issues at play here and certain cultures are used to interacting in a very directive rather than suggestive kind of way. However, we do need to be careful in these matters.

If someone actually asks for your advice then this colours the approach to the matter. But even then it may not be appropriate to say anything specifically into the situation. The best could well be to ask the other person questions so that they can work through the matter themselves.

So I conclude with these thoughts:

  • Be a listener first of all.
  • If you do speak into a person’s situation make sure that you speak in harmony with Scripture.
  • If you do have a specialism which is unbeknown to the other person then reveal it. I remember being humbled by seeking to direct someone about how to approach some roof work. This man turned out to be ……………… a roofer!

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