Previous Entry: The Freedom to Speak – Part 2
Little Ones and Free Speech
It is easier than one thinks to cause a little one to sin; whether a literal or metaphorical child, little ones are easily disturbed in their faith. The difficult thing to remember is that each person matures at different rate. This seems obvious, but we are not referring only to intellectual and emotional growth. The outward person and personal achievements rarely reveal the maturity of the spirit. Consider the difficulty of dialoguing with one who feels they are spiritually mature, but interaction reveals anything but maturity in spirit. This brings us to the problem of Free Speech.
As a minister, one of the many lessons I have learned is that just because I desperately want to mature and want to encourage other disciples and the church to mature does not automatically mean that I am Free to Speak about any given topic.
Truth told, no matter how much I want to explain or reveal, there are some things that another person or group of persons is not ready to receive. This is why Paul’s concept of “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3.6) is so vital, especially in context of the setting of the beginning of First Corinthians Chapter Three. Perhaps in time the person or group of persons will be ready, but that is only if God permits it to be, adapting another lesson from Hebrews 6.1-3.
This truth applies to conversion to discipleship, repentance from sin, maturity of faith, and rethinking and reexamining long-held beliefs and doctrinal interpretation. In the past, I was predisposed to speak until “blue in the face” but in recent years God has revealed that debating is counterproductive (2 Timothy 2.23, Titus 3.9). This is why I simply refuse to prove/disprove doctrinal interpretation with fellow Christians.
God has placed in my life Christians from many groups – take your pick of associations. Every person I have met wants to please God, and seems to be doing their best to understand what God wants while grappling with their own sin, and their own understanding of the Bible.
While being someone who used to argue “proper interpretation” and “proper life and worship” these things are not the primary focus of the Gospel. Doing those things is counterproductive to developing an environment based on righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14.17). Oh, how I long to have more of my God, my Savior, the Holy Spirit, and more freedom to live the discipled life. But there is a responsibility to not cause little ones to stumble, even when they are part of my own heritage.
For whatever reason, there will be barriers to dialogue, and there will be tension between and among Christians. As a minister, I simply will not be perceived by the hearer(s) as working against what they believe to be true. Advancement toward greater understanding, maturity, and/or practice at the risk of them losing their faith in Jesus is too great a risk. But how I long for and truly enjoy the moments when the hearer(s) yearn for a deeper faith, greater understanding, spiritual maturity and liberated display of faith.
No matter how hard one tries, there will be those Christians who will not change their mind when it comes to how they interpret doctrine. They perceive it how they perceive it, whether accurate or not, that is the way it goes. Yet, and since all Christians have faith in Jesus, then personally I have adapted Paul’s thoughts and make it something like this: “I may plant, or I may water, but it is God who permits another Christian’s maturity.” Just because God has given me the Freedom to Speak, does not mean that God has permitted me to use that freedom to the detriment of a little one.
Blessings and Shalom
Next Entry: The Freedom to Speak – Part 4
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