I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. I am sure where you are living is beautiful as well. 🙂
A few years ago I was visiting family and friends in an Adventist University community. Several different family and friends attend several different Adventist churches in the area. Sabbath, I decided to join a particular friend at his church. The sermon was on how we are not to judge others. As I sat and listened to the sermon, I could not help, but in my mind think of texts that say we are to judge, Like 1 Corinthians 5- 6. I thought the sermon was very much one-sided. Then I believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me. William there are about 20 Adventist churches in the area God could have sent you to this morning, but I sent you to this church so you could hear this particular message. This is the side of the topic that you need to hear!
Suppose I have a friend in New Zealand who has been battling depression, because she misses her home in South Africa. One morning she gets up and is trying to look at the bright side of the situation, so she posts a picture of a beautiful New Zealand sunrise on Facebook, with the message, “New Zealand sure has some beautiful scenery.” Then suppose all of her friends in America and South Africa start commenting back about how beautiful their land is too. No doubt South Africa and America are beautiful too, but wouldn’t that distract from the point that is relevant to my friend in New Zealand? My friend in New Zealand is already aware that America and South Africa are beautiful. But that is not the point. Instead of commenting back with, “Yes, but…..America is beautiful too!” maybe I should just agree, “Yes! That is a very beautiful sunrise. You live in a wonderful land” and just leave it at that! It is not going to help my NZ friend battle depression by totally exhausting the subject of beautiful places to live on her post.
Believe it or not Jesus Himself did not exhaust every subject in every discourse. He spoke words that needed to be heard in that particular situation. Over time and by cross-examining Scripture we get the big picture. Jesus’ sermon in Luke 4 is an example of how Jesus purposely left out certain points because they were not relevant to the specific group He was addressing.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. Luke 4:18-19 NLT
Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2 which went on to read, “and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.” But Jesus left that part out! Jesus knew the crowd He was talking to would become a little too happy about God’s anger on their enemies, so He left that out. It was totally true but not a truth that they needed to hear! So when we accuse a preacher or Sabbath school teacher of not preaching truth, because they leave out the morsel of truth we enjoy feasting on, we are making an unwarranted judgment of “heresy.” We can have unity by listening to what others have to say without constantly bickering and arguing, even with a “yes….but.” Sometimes those “yes….buts” are a distraction from what God wants us to see. Often times the point in the “yes….but” has already been well established, and the other person is not trying to disagree, but just give the topic a proper balance, and if we reply back with a “yes…but,” we throw the topic off balance again.
We can encourage oneness and promote unity by listening to understand instead of just listening to reply with our opinion. We don’t always have to bring up the other side of the topic. Maybe God knows you are already grounded on one side and now need a more balanced understanding of the topic by hearing some other truths on the topic. That is what I realized God was telling me while listening to the sermon in my friend’s church that Sabbath.
You may study this week’s SS lesson here.