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Doctrine in dialogue format

 

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The Parsonage

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we are ambassadors for Christ


Have you ever wondered what the life of a minister is like? Well wonder no longer, because it's time for The Parsonage, where you will experience a day in the life of Reverend Leopold and his wife Ermintrude Bach, patriarch of the perish.

In today's episode we find Pastor Leo and his friend Pastor Daniel Palisades discussing the condition of the Church. Listen:

"As I understand what you're saying, you don't think appearances, that is the impression we make on other people is as important as I assume it to be, is that correct Daniel?"

"Yes Leo, I think you're making too much of little things. What a person wears or how they act, as long as they're not vulgar or obscene is not relevant to Christianity any more than it is in any other aspect of life."

"Then you don't mind if children dress like street walkers in school or they show demonstrative films on TV? I don't think you've drawn a very clear line for me to base your view upon Daniel. You must have a dividing line somewhere."

"You're reaching beyond your grasp Leo. You must feel you're on shaky ground. You know perfectly well I'm not talking about school or the movies. We were talking about church and the Christian, not what they do in the world."

"That's what I thought we were talking about Daniel, but you said you believe a Christian needn't draw a line as to their behavior. I know you didn't mean it be as broad a statement as you had expressed it. I was just looking to show you that you have left too wide a blur line between the acceptable and the unacceptable."

"I'll admit the line is hard to define Leo. But I believe that line of blur is there intentionally so each of us can make our own decision as to what we believe to be appropriate. What you think is ok, I might find reprehensible, and what...."

"I think you have your example upside-down Daniel. If you recall it is I who holds to the ridged stance. Let's see if we can find a more common ground on which to base our examples of what we see acceptable and what we see as unacceptable. Let's say we're looking at two groups of young people, both groups are clearly Christian in their confession. One group is finely dressed wearing suit and tie, carrying a Bible, and talking to people about Jesus. The other group is rather slovenly dressed, not very respectful in their manner, and they too are talking about Jesus to those on the street. Which group do you suppose represents Jesus the best?"

"We've had this conversation before Leo. Let's not talk about the virtue of appropriate dress. That's been discussed to death."

"I'm not talking about appropriate dress Daniel. Our context is that of representing Jesus, not oneself. My question to you is, which group of youngsters do you think represents our Lord the best? Which will have the most positive impact on those they talk to? And even more importantly, which do you think God will look on the most favorably as representing Him?"

"By outward appearances, I would have to say the well groomed group of course. But appearances are only part of the picture Leo. We have to look into the hearts of the individual. We have to consider what each of the groups is saying about the Lord. The well dressed group may be preaching a false doctrine while the slovenly group may be teaching the truth. We can't judge on the basis of appearances."

"You make a good point Daniel. But you're sidestepping the issue. We're not discussing the doctrine of individuals. We're talking about outward behavior and representing Jesus. It's hard to stay on track isn't it Daniel? That's not a putdown, I have the same problem because the spectrum of the topic is so broad."

"Ok Leo. I'll concede the point as far as you've taken it. But let me add another element I don't think you've considered. Jesus had two groups of people He was dealing with. One group was, as you call them, slovenly, and sinners besides. The other group was very religious, sticking strictly to the rules of the Church of their time, and they were exceptionally well dressed to the point of being conspicuous. Which group did Jesus look favorably on, and which did He condemn as being hypocrites? Am I on track now Leo?"

"I have to admit you are on track Daniel. And you make an excellent point. Of course I would have to say it's the finely dressed people that was condemned by Jesus. But I would like to ask you this Daniel, what was the reason Jesus condemned them? Was it because they were dressed well? And why did He accept the sinners and the slovenly, because they were poorly dressed? Or was there a reason outside their appearances that caused them to be accepted or rejected?"

"You're pressing your luck again Leo. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their broad display of religiosity. And that my friend is the point I'm trying to make. Clothing does not make the Christian. And don't try to tell me that because your prim youngsters are going door-to-door preaching makes them any more Christian or appropriate, because the scribes and the Pharisees were noted for teaching in the synagogues and on the steps of the Temple."

"Very true Daniel. And I wouldn't think of bringing up that subject, especially since you already have. But we have to keep in mind the intent each of these groups have for teaching as they do. Was it to teach the listeners about God? Was it because they truly care about people and having them saved? Or did they do it just because that is what was expected of them?"

"Now it's you that's digging into motives and intent Leo. I suppose the Pharisees were just as apt to have a sincere intent as does your proper youngsters. Consider Nicodemus. How can I say one way or another about the heart of an entire group of people. and for that matter how can you say one way or another about them. I believe we've come to a stalemate in our discussion Leo, and I suggest we leave it as it is. Besides, I have to run now and attend a meeting of slovenly dressed youngsters who are going to spend time in deep prayer. So I'll see you in a week, God willing."




14Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. (2Tim 2:)

15Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. 16And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. (John 8:)

20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2Cor 5:)

8Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; (John 14:)

48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Mat 5:)

[Author's note: What does "perfect" mean to you?]


 

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