| from Stephen Baker |
I was motivated by a recent article I read from Summit Ministries, for whom Dr. Kathy Koch occasionally teaches, about the polarization of our country. The article by Bob Sorge did a great job of pointing out areas politically and culturally where people are drawing lines and finding themselves with opposing viewpoints even from fellow Christians and family members.
One of the greatest struggles within the Christian church is handling conflict when that conflict comes from opposing viewpoints on cultural and political realms. The disciples that followed Jesus, however, apparently had to deal with this as there were disciples who had aligned with Roman authority to collect taxes, and there was a disciple, or more, who were zealous for overthrowing Roman rule. How did these men and women fellowship and serve alongside each other? How would they have coped with COVID restrictions, racial prejudices, poverty, etc.?
The apostle Paul may shed light on Jesus’ teaching with his writing in Romans 14:1, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” And in Romans 15:7, “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
Jesus had previously taught, that the second greatest commandment was for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. There is no place for despising those with different viewpoints or judging others whom we consider immature. Quite the opposite. Paul encouraged yielding our liberty in cultural, political, and even religious practices for the sake of not offending our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are called to support one another in Christian discipline and growth.
In Dr. Kathy’s book, Eight Great Smarts, she warns against the dangers of squelching a child’s natural smarts. She teaches, rather, that we should listen to each other and have “rich give-and-take conversations at the dinner table.” That way those who are mature (parents) can lead and motivate the immature (children) toward the development of the gifts and understand the dangers of their misuse. This practice holds true for the church as well. Those who are mature must lead gently those who may seem immature. Maybe that is why Jesus taught so often around the breaking of bread. He was setting the stage for deep, personal conversations. Conversation where both parties are seeking the heart and wisdom of God, not the validation of their own agenda.
Stephen Baker and his wife, Joyce have been two of Dr. Kathy’s thought-leaders for years. Now they’re both Celebrate Kids Associate Speakers and Writers. They work closely together. Steve has served in ministry for almost 40 years. With his heart for discipleship, he has worked as a senior pastor, associate pastor, teacher, coach, and hospice chaplain. Steve has a passion for families, mentoring believers, and discipling parents to walk in this world humbly and boldly as warriors sharing the powerful message of the gospel to all people.