Steve Ellison: Creating Obstacles

Friday, September 8, 2017 - by Steve Ellison

The church at Rome in the first century and your church in 2017 both have a problem.  Both have people who are confused about what is really important.  Both have people who have no idea how much damage they are doing to their church. Both have people who make terrible choices for very self-centered reasons. Both have people who have taken their eyes off Christ and have become unloving toward others.

 

 

It is clear that Romans 14 is laying down ground rules for dealing with actions that are not biblically wrong.  This passage has no bearing on those things which violate biblical standards.   Romans 14 deals with matters of opinion, personal preference, and tradition. Verse 13 could not be clearer.  We are told that our judging of our fellow church members puts an obstacle or a stumbling block in their way. Several times in Romans 14 we are told that we will be held accountable for our judging.  Verse 14 echoes Genesis 1 which tells us several times that everything God created is good.  Verse 15 tells us that if our actions or our judgment of others actions hurts our brothers, we are not walking in love. More than simply hurting our brother, verse 15 tells us that we can destroy him. Verses 16 and 17 remind us that our freedom, our liberty in Christ, as real as it is, ought not to be our priority.  Rather our priority ought to be to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord.   If you are a person who needs a formula to make sure that you are on the right path, if you need for God to spell out in detail what He expects from you, well you have it in verse 18.  Your refusal to give in to your own opinions and your refusal to judge your brothers and sisters unjustly is actually serving Christ.  This service is clearly declared to be acceptable to God. 

 

Verse 19 gives some clear commands which let us know that our priorities have already been set for us.  Our priorities must not be our opinions, preferences, or traditions.  Instead, our priorities must be “to pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another”.  Verse 17 maintains that the “kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”.  While we have the freedom in Christ to engage in activities that do not violate clear Biblical commands, this does not mean that we ought to.  Rather we are told in verse 21, that we ought not to “do anything by which your brother stumbles”.  Verse 21 gives two specific examples: eating meat that may have been offered to idols prior to being sold and the drinking of wine.  I am sure you can think of many other examples from your own life.

 

The gist of this passage then is that we ought to very carefully consider all of our words, demands, and actions to see if they might cause others to stumble.  The most oft used example is drinking wine with a meal which causes another to become an alcoholic, but that is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Suppose it causes another to gossip about me.  Has that created an obstacle?  Suppose it causes another to judge me.  Has that created an obstacle?  If I complain about a new style of worship and it influences another to have negative feelings toward the pastor or the song leader, is that creating a stumbling block by making it hard for that person to worship or receive the sermon?  I imagine that you can think of many, many more examples.  I recommend it.  I think that it would be a good spiritual exercise for each of us.



Mitch McClure To Speak On "Thankful For His Help" On Sunday

Middle Valley Church of God announced that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'Thankful For His Help'  in the  10:30 a.m.  service on  Sunday . This sermon is part of a sermon series titled 'Thankful Again.' This series focuses attention to the goodness that God has demonstrated to each of us and encourages us to discover new and ... (click for more)

Interfaith Service Of Gratitude Held Last Sunday

Pilgrim Congregational Church, United Church of Christ hosted an Interfaith Service of Gratitude last Sunday.  "Nineteen plus faith groups gathered to worship in gratitude for all that the Divine has provided. Baha’I, Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim and others all coming together in thanksgiving," officials said. “God created each of us as unique individuals who need community ... (click for more)

City Council Votes On 1st Reading To Lower Rain Retention Requirement In South Chickamauga Creek Basin

The City Council on Tuesday voted to lower the requirement for rainwater retention in the South Chickamauga Creek basin. The move from holding the first 1.6 inches to one inch had been requested by the Home Builders Association and the Berke administration. Sandy Kurtz, longtime leader of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance, said the resolution was "not yet ready ... (click for more)

Former Pilot Regional Account Specialist Says Former President Mark Hazelwood Approved Of Fraud

When well-known attorney Rusty Hardin on Tuesday asked a former Pilot regional account specialist if she believed that former president Mark Hazelwood knew of a plan to cheat trucking firms he didn't get the answer he expected. Holly Radford told a jury in Chattanooga, "I know he had knowledge of the rebate schemes that were going on. "I had conversations with him about it ... (click for more)

Thankful For Tennessee

While Christmas reigns supreme as a holiday marking the birth of our Lord, I have always felt a special connection with Thanksgiving. These days Christmas unfortunately includes ubiquitous commercialism which can distract us from the true meaning of the day. Thanksgiving stands apart from all that. This day gives us an opportunity to reflect and take stock of our many blessings.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanksgiving Eve

I don’t know who was the first to do the Famous Pregnant Turkey prank but I’ll bet you a handful of giblets there will be a lot of copycats who try it today. The trick is finding a Cornish hen that is small enough to stuff inside the larger turkey. Then you skillfully pack the bird with some of that sausage-sage dressing and put your Thanksgiving dinner in the oven. When all ... (click for more)