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Better to be Mistreated with God's People...

by TL K. | May 14, 2011
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Heb. 11: 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of God as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

1 Tim. 6: 17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Paul goes on to admonish Timothy to encourage fellow believers to ‘be rich in good deeds, to be generous, and willing to share’. With some small thought we can rightly conclude that part of our richness in this world is to come from our treatment of one another. We are not meant to be islands to one another, only showing our faces at the church building door. Godly fellowship, sharing of meals, meeting together sharing laughter and prayers, is also a grace gift of the blessings of community from the Lord.

Yes, the world mistreats us as believers, and sometimes even fellow believers mistreat us, but it is still better to join together with our less than perfect brethren, than to separate and be friends with the world. But how do we deal with doctrinal problems and the ensuing battles?

One of the struggles we face as Christians who believe in mutuality, equality and freedom to become all that we can in Christ, is that sometimes other believers who believe differently mistreat us. It’s not supposed to be that way. In fact, it’s supposed to be the opposite. We are supposed to support, honor and encourage one another to become like Christ in every way possible. But coming to know Christ as our Messiah does not give automatic perfect understanding and holiness in all things. We come as we are. Where one is able to see one truth easily, another is not. The idea that those who have insight are responsible to share it with those who do not is easy to speak but much more difficult to live.

Yet, ultimately the struggle is ours, not theirs. They do not stress over having no place to grow in the church. It is those who wish to move beyond the status quo, that question whether they want to continue to go to church and question whether they wish to struggle just to be who they believe they are meant to be in Christ. However, a fact we often miss is that this struggle is to our benefit. Those who struggle and persevere will mature in character, while the ones who do not stretch their faith and understanding will stagnate. As we develop character and understanding, we experience being changed into a more compassionate person toward others. Somehow, we will manage to grow past anger and resentment into some degree of compassionate sorrow while firmly revealing more truth to those who resist seeing what we see in Scripture. The view that God is able to use everyone, and is able to raise up everyone to do the works of God, and that all the parts of the Body of Christ really are needed is a deeper view of the depths of God’s love toward humanity.

Christ did not give dissertations on theology, create traditions, or seek to set up hierarchies of privileges. Christ lived His love of all. He spoke when others thought He should have kept quiet. He healed when others thought He should have done nothing. He accepted the unacceptable ones and loved them, drawing them toward God and Truth. What I’m suggesting is that perhaps it is TIME for non hierarchical believers to stand up, to speak up, to teach and preach with boldness wherever they can even when others don’t think they should — as long as they/we can determine that God is behind us and encouraging us.

Instead of being silent in those Bible studies, why not pray and ask God what poignant bit of truth you can lay out for your fellow believers. This does not mean that we have to say anything at all about egalitarian/equality issues, just that we speak up and share our gifts and insights. Also, I encourage egalitarian men to get busy inviting their sisters to speak, to teach, to pray and to preach. When fellow believers start hearing wisdom and insight coming from their sisters it will be more difficult for them to silence the women.  Egalitarian brothers can be an example of how to treat sisters in the Lord with respect, courtesy and honor.  As well, it's time to let our brothers do all the things they were called to by Christ including being chefs, uncles/big brothers, teaching children, and helping with cleaning.

In the meantime, as we struggle for the building up of our character and inner growth, it is still better to be somewhat mistreated by some of our brethren than absent from them all. And it is better to continue to be ones who offer godly fellowship rather than ones who distance themselves.

What do you think?