Tuesday, September 18, 2012

1st Clement 21 - Choosing to offend

We should always attempt to conciliate rather than offend. This was certainly the approach to life that Paul advocated.
"Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble." (1 Corinthians 8:13) "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some." (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Paul was a man who would rather sacrifice his own rights in consideration of others lest he offend and harm them in their pursuit of God. However. there does come times when we must choose to offend others in the name of God.
"It is right, therefore, that we should not leave the post which His will has assigned us. Let us rather offend those men who are foolish, and inconsiderate, and lifted up, and who glory in the pride of their speech, than [offend] God." (1 Clement 21)
Those who desire to exalt themselves above the flock often try to draw us unto themselves in an attempt to obtain our loyalty and obedience. Weather it is the sponsors of division or a leader of a local church, when one attempts to place themselves above the body of believers, they often exert force to draw us away from our "assigned post" to follow after them. They attempt to woo us away from Christ and after themselves. This was certainly the case with Diotrephes.
"I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church." (3 John 9-10)
Diotrephes wanted to be first and demanded loyalty of his followers, even to the point of excommunicating those who fellowship with those outside of his oversight. Paul expresses the same sentiment in regards to the those Jews how sought to force the Christians to be circumcised. "They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them." (Galatians 4:17)

It is right that we should not leave our walk with the Lord nor our "post" He has assigned to us to seek after those who would draw us away unto themselves. It is better that, in these cases, we choose to offend men rather than offend God; to refuse to offer our obedience to sedition and isolation even if it means offending those who would lead us away. When men request that our loyalty and obedience to them take a higher place than our loyalty and obedience to God, let us choose to offend!

David Robison

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