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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Be ye therefore perfect…

I have found that one of the most difficult task assigned to believers is found in Matthew 5 (KJV).

(44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
This instruction seems so contrary to every inclination yet the logic here is inescapable.
(46) For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
(47) And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
(48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I am persuaded that the power to accomplish this task can be found only in Christ our Lord but if Christ is your Lord I beg you avail yourself of this power;

(45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

20 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

This is an excellent followup to the last thread, and the direction my thoughts were heading, too.

It's also a bit of a struggle for me when my religious brothers and sisters isolate verse 48 from the verses surrounding it. Somehow, the 'perfection' of Christ is wrenched away from the idea of loving the unlovable and distorted into avoiding sin.

[heresy alert] The primary mandate of Jesus Christ is not to stop sinning (and especially not to stop each other from sinning). It is to love each other, regardless. [/end heresy}

[no wait, there's more] I am against the notion of 'church discipline' (at least, in all the forms I have ever heard it explained). The necessity of such is, in my view, a failure of the church to embody relationship as Christ commanded.[/ok I think I'm done]

In the previous thread, there was discussion of 'unrepentant sin' as a target for this 'discipline.' But the problem is that 'church discipline' can only be carried out against someone with an outward behavioral 'sin,' like adultery. But let's go back to the scriptural mandate offered here. When was the last time you saw someone brought under discipline for failing to love adequately, or having a prideful spirit, or just being an arrogant religious @%$#&? Are not those sins as heinous? So 'church discipline' is inherently unjust.

[ok one last heresy] I'd rather be in fellowship with a practicing homosexual couple who love people and take care of widows and the poor than I would with some of the 'religious' people I have encountered, who demand of everyone around a 'Christian walk' consisting of a laundry list of behaviors to avoid.[/ok that's it, really]

If we love each other, the 'sin' part will take care of itself.

5/24/2008 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse, as you well know it is difficult for me to contend with you. To this day I never know whether to hug you or slap you! (Remember?) ;-)

To be honest I get the shivers whenever we try to prioritize the things of Christ. I consider everything concerning Christ as primary and especially where it concerns His instructions to us. With that in mind I would still agree that the love of God and others should be our primary concern in all circumstances. Our war is not with flesh and blood and nowhere are we instructed to destroy another, believer or not.

I don’t want to put words in your mouth but, if I may, it seems your contention is against an assembly administering any type of punishment in which case I totally agree. If you and I discuss the meaning of the term “discipline” then I suspect we would agree that discipline is an essential to all healthy relationships. Excommunication (withdrawing fellowship), as I understand it, is warranted only as a last resort when an individual rejects the settlement of a relational issue that has been agreed to by the assembly and I would agree that, at least in the vast majority of these cases, it is consequential to a failure of the assembly.

I really would like to avoid trying to determine which sins are most grievous but my understanding of the scripture would prevent me from fellowship with any believer who practiced to the contrary after having been charged by the assembly.

5/24/2008 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

Isn't it interesting.. don't think that I had seen this before.. that being perfect involves loving as God loves.

5/24/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

KC, if anyone can contend with me, it's you. And you always find a way to bring me down to earth with your customary grace and gentleness.

I don't mean to prioritize Christ's instruction. I only had in mind that he prioritized loving God and one another as the greatest of the commandments.

Maybe because of my experience over the last several years, or maybe because I've never been in a congregation that I believed was (on the whole) really led by the Spirit, I have a hard time granting the assembly the kind of authority that you seem to. I still think of us as a man-made organization in that regard. I think I need to consider this some more.

5/24/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bob, indeed.
“Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.”
Romans 12:9 KJV

Dorse, brother you are too kind. You know my deepest sympathies are with you in all these things.

5/25/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

This raises another question. If, loving God is carried out by loving others (which I hold to utterly), then to what degree might it be the same for trusting God?

I don't think it's the same, but is there a degree of truth to it?

5/26/2008 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Brother you make an excellent point. I think 1st John 4:7,8 might add some weight to your thoughts.

5/26/2008 08:32:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

That certainly informs my view of love, but what about trust? Does my distrust of people influence my ability to trust God?

5/26/2008 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

1st Corinthians 13:7, when describing love, states:

“Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” (KJV)

5/26/2008 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

...

...crap.

5/26/2008 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse, would it help if I said that we don't have to act on everything we believe? Sometimes it's better to wait for proof. ;-)

5/26/2008 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Hey, guys. Nice thread.

It's hard for me to love my 'enemies'. It's hard to say "yes" to a brother whose idea I don't like. It's hard to trust my sister or brother when I don't feel the same way they do, when we're in something together, or when I have to let them go (in some way). And I think maybe the only reason for me to love and trust those people is IF I'm following the Lord.

I did NOT however trust that snotty 9th grade kid who wanted to overnight-borrow my teacher's edition last week. ;)

5/26/2008 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Would you say that acting on the scriptures in your post for some/most of the time is more of an act of the will regardless of what our emotions are telling us?

Sometimes/most times for me to be obedient, I struggle with doing the right thing from my heart. I try to choose and do what I am suppose to do but I feel hypicritcal going ahead and doing good while my flesh wants to let em have it. Is that being hypicritical?

I am not making a statement, I would like honest answers or opinions on the questions.

Kris

5/26/2008 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

It's interesting that Paul speaks of 'crucifying the flesh' in order to respond the way we know we ought. Crucifixion is a long, slow, painful, lingering death, and that's often how it feels to put self aside and respond in love (for me, at least),

5/26/2008 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Bill you wrote:

” I think maybe the only reason for me to love and trust those people is IF I'm following the Lord.”

Kind’a puts things right into perspective. ;-)

Kris I really appreciate your heart in this. I know it’s really hard to at times to be transparent in love. I think Dorsey’s reply is wisdom.

From a practical perspective I try to give weight to the need. Does this person really need to know my thoughts or feelings and if so do they need to know them at this moment or is there another need that is greater. We can always come back to them once a crisis is past and I would only fear hypocrisy if I were to pretend or act like I had no thoughts or feelings.

Now I say I try and that’s true but too often I justify my actions by presuming my desire is their need. For example, “he really needs his rear-end kicked!” ;-)

5/27/2008 04:17:00 AM  
Anonymous GordonCloud said...

Great discussion, KC.

I believe that pride, not hatred, is the opposite of love. It is pride that keeps me from loving my enemies (after all, who are they to deserve my love?)

We are never more godly than when we are acting in love. We are never more satanic than when we act in pride.

5/27/2008 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Preacher, thanks.

I have come to agree with you concerning pride.

Our prayers are with you and your family today.

5/27/2008 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Kc, I don't tell a person I am thinking they are just being selfish while going ahead and acting like I love them without the emotions behind it.

I feel like telling them are, thats why I feel like a hypocrite. And I know good and well that I am just as selfish, its just the emotion of anger that I am feeling while going ahead and "doing good" that feels hypocritcal.

So Dorsey, are you saying that going ahead and doing good while my emotions of anger are telling me to "set them straight" is part of 'crucifying' my flesh?


I do agree with Gordon though. But isn't the root of pride actually fear?

5/29/2008 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

"So Dorsey, are you saying that going ahead and doing good while my emotions of anger are telling me to "set them straight" is part of 'crucifying' my flesh?

According to my experience, I think so, Kris. If I waited until I worked through all my emotions and came to a place of peace before acting, then I'd likely never act. Additionally, the act of goodness itself is a part of the transformative process, I think. Not just for myself, but often for the other party. When they expect me to tear into them, and I respond in love, it has an effect on them, too, and vice versa.

One of the Proverbs says "a soft answer diffuses anger" (my paraphrase). I think that, often times, that soft answer is offered against the desires of raw emotion. The fruit of the Spirit is self-control. That means acting in spite of emotion.


I also agree with Brother Gordon about pride. Just as Love is most fundamental expression of Christ (i.e. every other good thing springs from it), pride is the most fundamental expression of self. Rather than saying the root of pride is fear, I would say pride has no roots. It is the thing out of which spring fear, insecurity, greed, murder, envy, strife, religion, etc.

I have always said that pride is the only sin, for every other sin is born there. Likewise, Love is the basic element of all goodness. I think it's this idea that Chinese philosophy attempts to describe as Yin & Yang.

5/30/2008 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

This is some of the docrine that led to my coversion to Dorsism (This and the fact that I like the rotating points thingy). ;-)

5/30/2008 07:28:00 AM  

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