We need to be people who stand strong in the grace of God. Persecution will come in myriad forms. We need to remain strong, but not by our own power; rather, we need to stand strong by the power of God, which he has given to us by his grace in Christ Jesus. Whether we are persecuted at work for being a Christian by our peers, whether we are persecuted at home by the government for holding house-church meetings and taking benevolent offerings without a permit, or whether we are persecuted by imprisonment, torture, or death for being a Christian in this world by mobs or corrupt government, we need to stand strong. God has given us a spirit of power, not of cowardice. Because of this power, we can stand firm–and we can be strong.
We need to be people who teach others. We cannot build the kingdom of God all by our lonesome. We must invest in others, so that they might also invest in still more. Church leaders are to help especially train more leaders who can then teach others. Small group leaders are a great way for the contemporary American church to entrust the teaching task to faithful people. But it is not the only way. We can train through books. We can train through webisodes. We can train through DVDs. We can train through seminars and conventions. In the end, we need to train others for the task of teaching.
We need to be people who do not fight over words. We may teach others, but this might mean that some opposing views and opinions might come to the fore. When this happens, we cannot allow ourselves to wrangle over these words, lest our work at building the church be harmed. Arguments over words will harm those who hear, so we need to refrain from them. It’s not about debating the words, but, rather, it is about nearly coming to blows over them. We should keep our composure and seek to maintain peace. It is the mentality that we should agree to disagree on these minor matters, so that we do not cause harm on those who hear.
We need to be people who teach rightly. We can’t allow unorthodox topics to do harm and upset the faith of some people. Because we are to teach rightly, we are to avoid wrong teachings. We cannot afford to entertain wrong teachings when we are teaching others. We need to teach the major points of the faith, namely Christ–both his life and his death, and both his death and his resurrection. And we need to avoid ignorant matters. We need to be educated in the faith, so that we can avoid quarrels entirely. When we do encounter people who are ignorant and are spreading their unorthodox topics, we need to be graceful and patient in the way we go about correcting them. Our goal in that case would be to lead them by God’s guidance back to the truth.
We need to be people who do good deeds. God has saved us. God has empowered us. However, he has saved us for a purpose, and he has empowered us for action. We have been sanctified by grace, but this sanctification results in our readiness to do good work. We are not to pursue youthful desires, but we are to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Live right. Live in faith. Live in love. Live in peace. These are the good deeds for which we have been prepared and equipped. Rather than arguing and causing harm to those who hear, we need to pursue peace. We need to show love with those whom we disagree and also with those who hear our disagreement by not allowing our words to harm them. Sometimes, because of love for others and because we want to maintain peace, we need to hold our tongue. We do need to live in faith. We must embrace right teaching. We must embrace good works. Faith and works are not in opposition to each other. They are a twofold unit for the believer. Believers have faith, but they live to do good works.
Let’s build the church by standing strong in the face of persecution and by teaching others so they can teach more in kind, but as we teach others let’s be sure not to get into heated arguments that will cause harm to others who hear them, and let’s correct ignorance with gentleness and kindness, so that we can guide people back to the truth from their erroneous ideas. Let’s focus on the major teaching points and not get tangled up in minor things and opinions. Let’s enact our faith and do good works to further build up the church.