In the past few weeks, the bulletin articles emphasized two points. (1) Christians are responsible to care for each others well being. Thus, we exercise great care in what we say. (2) Christians accept the responsibility involved in personal transformation. Thus, as a Christian, I am responsible to focus on my behavior and attitudes as well as on your example.
Wow! Tough! It is fairly simple for me to focus on your example. If I am honest with myself, it is fairly simple to focus on my example established by my attitudes and behavior. However, all of us encounter a huge problem. God who gave Christ for my sins and forgives my errors is also the God who gave Christ for your sins and forgives your errors. So, when do I treat my mistakes with Gods grace, and when do I treat your mistakes with Gods grace? When do I let Gods grace help you escape your guilt just as I allow Gods grace to help me escape my guilt?
Where is the balance? Who decides where it should be? How do I condemn you without condemning me? If I let my guilt destroy me how am I improved because I destroy you also? Does anything go with repentance? Where is the accountability line drawn? Who draws it? Are you in because I say you are in or out because I say you are out? How can we show each other disrespect and not discredit our Savior?
I understand when Elijah ran from Queen Jezebel or Peter denied Jesus when he was under the gun. Why? I know and grasp such weakness. I know that kind of weakness happens! However, it is difficult to understand Gods quick forgiveness of Davids adultery, or Bathsheba continuing as Davids queen, or her son by David being Israels next king. That puts Isaiah 55:8, 9 in a practical lighttruly Gods ways are not our ways! Thankfully, Gods forgiveness does not depend on human understanding.
Congregationsfrom the beginningwere a delicate balance between mercy and accountability. Jewish Christians did not understand how gentile Christians could be saved without circumcision. Gentile Christians did not understand why Jewish Christians were so hung up on rules. Living congregations ALWAYS are composed of spiritual infants, children, adolescents, and adults of varying degrees of spiritual maturity. If the balance between mercy and accountability is not found and practiced in Jesus Christ, no congregation can thrive as a part of Christs earthly body.
In college, an admired teacher stated this in a minor prophets study: You cannot get to Heaven on the mistakes of other people.
Link to other Writings of David Chadwell