Today’s sermon started with a story the pastor told of his time in seminary. This was in the 1970s, and there were only a few women enrolled in the Master of Divinity program. One woman, whose husband was also enrolled, graduated with her husband and went on to mission work among the Masai people in Africa.
When it came to asking permission to preach the gospel (a wise thing to do among a warrior tribe), the husband was granted free reign. The wife was told no. She could have reacted the way many so-called feminists do, and gone ahead and preached regardless. She did not, choosing to stay behind.
Why did she not preach? Because she knew that the Masai culture at the time was not open to a woman preacher. And that to go and preach despite this would not aid in bringing the Good News to these people. So, although she was not a shrinking violet, she did not place her pride ahead of whatever it might take to forward the message of salvation through Christ.
This is a clear case of someone placing their needs after the need to spread the gospel. Which is as it should be, and which Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:12: we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. I am in awe of this woman, although I don’t know her except by way of this story. Pride, in many ways the father of all sin, has made me not listen to this simple but powerful message from Paul.
Another way of stating this lesson would be in this little mantra, or some variety of it:
Unity in the essential things;
Liberty in other things;
Nothing to hinder the gospel of Christ
This is good advice for all who may think that it is their way or the highway. Who think that one must observe the Lord’s Supper in a certain way or be damned. Or who don’t invite all baptized Christians to the Lord’s table. The list of things we allow to divide His church is virtually endless…and a reflection of our pride. Some things are essential; we’ve each of us got at least a mental list. Some of us have big honkin’ rule books just chock full of legalese.
I don’t mean to suggest that there are not essential things. Of course there are. But they are few. It’s all the baggage that many denominations insist on bringing into the tent that cause the problems. Many, if not most, such things hinder the gospel of Christ.
| technorati tag | Christianity|