The Gospel and the Church – Hit the Mark

I’m writing this week’s post from Rome, the ancient city whose past intersects with the life of Paul. It was from Rome that Paul penned the letter to the church in Galatia. Unlike myself and my wife, Paul was not in Rome by his own choice. His presence there was due to the conflicts he endured as a faithful follower and promoter of Jesus Christ.

A modern rendition of the prodigal son returning to the open arms of his father. His mother waves in the background. Front yard of house with white picket fence and open gate. Harry Anderson painting.

Image © Review & Herald Publishing from GoodSalt.com

Yet, even in the midst of his own life-threatening predicament, Paul’s concern was for the members of the churches scattered about. This week’s lesson, The Gospel and the Church, focuses on Paul’s words of wisdom on how to deal with fellow members who have succumbed to sin.

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

Rather than isolating Paul’s instructions as a go-to guide for church conduct, I find it more helpful to understand the bigger picture. Paul was writing to a church in crisis. The dissension caused by those of the circumcision was leading to a loss of compassion and love. This had to be addressed.

I hear in the words of Paul a principle that would serve all of us well. When thinking about other Bible examples to describe it, I thought of David before he was king.

David was living on the run from King Saul. For protection, he had taken refuge with King Achish, the king of the Philistines. 1 Samuel 29 records the story of an impending battle between the Philistines and the Children of Israel during that time.

David is providentially removed from having to fight for or against his own people and when he and his men returned to Ziklag, they found it burned and all of the women and children taken by the Amalekites.

1 Samuel 30 tells of the heroic efforts David and his men made to rescue their families. So focused were they on getting to their people that 200 of his men of war were too exhausted to make it to where the Amalekites were camped.

After a victorious rout, David and the men with him retrieved their families and more. I want to focus on the scene when they victoriously returned to camp. Many of those that actually fought did not want to share the bounties with those who remained behind. Common logic would say that they were less deserving. David’s response to this is crucial.

“But David said, “My brethren, you shall not do so with what the Lord has given us, who has preserved us and delivered into our hand the troop that came against us. For who will heed you in this matter? But as his part is who goes down to the battle, so shall his part be who stays by the supplies; they shall share alike.â€� So it was, from that day forward; he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.” 1 Samuel 30:23-25

David knew that unity was vital. They were all in it together. Their existence as a cohesive unit would not be based on a points system. Everyone’s role, whether on the front line or not, mattered. And for the good of everyone, no one would be thought of as less deserving.

“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.� Stephen Covey

Paul is conveying the same sentiment. His call to restore those who have trespassed is not a set of sterile rules for church policy. They are a call to unity. They are a call to not allow anything to interpose between them.

He is urging them as a loving father, to keep the main thing the main thing. Their thrust in life was to be one of continual, sincere expressions of love and kindness.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

With all of the calamities throughout our world today, we too need to heed the instruction of keeping the main thing the main thing. Political ideologies, racial preferences, class conflicts, and self-centeredness are pulling the fabric of our world apart. The church – the people who are the church- must strive to be free from those influences that would separate us.

In another letter, Paul urges this same attention to rescuing and not condemning, with a goal of uniting and not dividing.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”  2 Corinthians 5:17-18

That my friends is keeping the main thing the main thing.

Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:

  • What does the word reconciling mean to you?
  • What does the “ministry of reconciliation” mean to you and is it optional?
  • What does Paul mean when he instructs the church to do good to others?
  • Is it true that part of our responsibility as church family is to identify the sins in others that may negatively affect the church? Explain your answer
  • What is the main goal of the organized church?
  • What does Paul mean in Galatians 6:1, “considering yourself lest you also be tempted”?
  • How does humility help or hinder the progress of the church?
  • Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap means that if I do good to others, I should expect good to happen to me. If bad things happen to me that is because I am reaping from bad things I did. Explain your answer.

We close this week’s lesson with another verse from our study. I encourage you to keep aiming high.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!

 

Amen!(14)

2 comment(s) for this post:

  1. Ulrike Unruh:

    21 Sep 2017
    “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap means that if I do good to others, I should expect good to happen to me. If bad things happen to me that is because I am reaping from bad things I did. Explain your answer.”

    Interesting question.
    On the broad scale of human interpersonal relationships, it is quite natural for a smile to reap a smile in return; a person who has many friends is usually a very friendly person. In marriage we hear accounts of marriages saved because one partner commits to really building up the other person. The way we treat others does have a significant effect on how others treat us. It can change the whole atmosphere when a happy, positive person enters a group!
    Hopefully we can by that person within our church community, bringing a unity to work together for Christ.

    But then we move to another scene. Paul writes to Timothy that ” all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Now we see bad things being reaped because one does good!

    However, I was thinking of the verse in yet a different line. Much of Paul’s letter was on salvation through faith not by law. Here he is bringing in a balance, saying, even though we are not saved by keeping the law, yet that law (which is based on love) is there for a reason. God put it there because He loves us and wants the best for us.
    To willingly live outside God’s law, thinking it doesn’t matter if we obey it or not, is in essence mocking God and his law.
    Disobeying God’s laws does have consequences.

    For example, King David, did some pretty bad things, he confessed, repented in genuine repentance, and God forgave him, justified him and even called him a man after his own heart.
    But even though David was restored in a saving relationship with God, yet he still reaped the consequences of his sin. There was, among other things, the loss of respect of his children, and even of his subjects. Life was different and not so pleasant after his fall.

    So even though grace is an undeserved gift to the believing Christian, don’t mock God by thinking that the gift, which comes without the law, makes it OK to sin — a person does reap the results of their sins. Those sins can leave terrible scars. Like nails pulled out of a board, even though the nails are gone, they leave holes. Sins, even though forgiven, leave scars.

    But like David, who held fast his faith in God, and knew his transgressions were covered, even though he knew he did not deserve salvation, we too can be assured that we are forgiven, and even when things don’t go smooth for whatever reason, we continue in well doing, for in the end, through Christ working for us and in us, we will reap eternal life, if we keep our eyes fixed on Him.

  2. JohnHerscher:

    23 Sep 2017
    Right, Pauls council applys to us today also. After all are not many of our churches in crisis today like the Galatians were? One member takes the victorious life given to us by God through our Lord Jesus Christ, then another, and another, and another in humility and forgivness, realizing that they too are new creatures in Christ. Before we know it, by the grace of God, our church prevails. 1 Corinthians 15:57.

Leave a comment

Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons