Struggling with others… a thought
Devotional Thought of the Day:
15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. Philippians 1:15-19 (NLT2)
(Luther said) Although the fathers were often wrong, they ought nevertheless to be honored on account of their testimony to faith. So I venerate Jerome and Gregory and others inasmuch as one can sense [from their writings], in spite of everything else, that they believed as we do, as the church from the beginning believed, and as we believe. So Bernard was magnificent when he taught and preached. However, when he engaged in disputation he assailed what he had before preached. Consequently the fathers aren’t worth much for controversy, but on account of their testimony to faith they ought all to be honored. Bernard was superior to all the doctors in the church when he preached, but he became quite a different man in his disputations, for then he attributed too much to law and to free will. To dispute in the church is therefore bad.”
I love Luther’s attitude toward the saints, show in his discussion above. I wish he could have been as patient with Eck and Tetzel (Roman Catholics) and with Zwingli (protestant). Still, it is easier to see God working in the lives of those who had passed on compared to those you are currently engaging in “disputes.”
I am not better at dealing with some of those I disagree with or who disagree with me.
Some I can honor quite easily, for I see their hearts for God’s people quite easily. Two of my closest friends in ministry are Catholic priests – and their hearts for bringing people to Jesus are pretty obvious. They are about crafting disciples, not just converting numbers. For us, it is about helping our people come aware of God’s presence and His care. I see that in some writers I know of and read- a Southern Baptist, a Methodist.
But others, including some within my own brotherhood, I struggle to respect, and honoring them seems far from my heart and mind. It may be because of disputes between us. I can’t see their heart and soul, and there is obvious
dissonance based on actions and attitudes. Frustration builds Luther’s ability to cope with such people boiled down to their faith – that they trusted in Jesus. He could rejoice in their preaching because it was about Jesus, and it drew people into God’s presence. That is the same bottom line that Paul rejoiced where the gospel was being preached – even if for reasons that seem contrary.
So there is where we need to go if we are going to respect our adversaries if we are going to pray that God bless them. For
that is what we need to do, coming together because of the Lord whom we make known. Find out where God is using them, and praise God for it; even while praying, we all are drawn closer to Him, and therefore to each other.
Our hope in all this is in Christ and in the work of the Spirit. I pray we learn to depend on Him more and recognize His work in others more.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 104–105.