Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: compromise

Spectator or participant?

Canadian politics just became much more interesting. Maxime Bernier has withdrawn from the Conservative Party, of which he almost became leader, to found a new political party. He is speaking up about issues that others want to avoid talking about and this has raised a storm of criticism. Perhaps he is starting a movement at just the opportune moment to bring the country back to the principles that unite us. Or perhaps his movement will fizzle out and just be a footnote in history. In either case the next few months promise to be interesting for political observers.

However, for those of us who are Christians, we must remember one thing: in politics we must remain spectators, not participants. Politics is a dirty business and no one who engages in politics, however pure his intentions, can avoid becoming soiled. Politics is he art of the compromise, but a compromise is seldom reached before a lot of grime and slime is slung about. Christians cannot win at such a game, unless they cease speaking and acting like Christians.

In the church we must be participants, not mere spectators. If we think the purpose of the church is to provide spiritual entertainment, we will be disappointed. But if we are looking for something to do that is meaningful and fulfilling, the church has a place for us. It may not be highly visible, but if that’s what we want we should ask ourselves if we understand what truly matters in life. There are people in the church who see things differently than we do. Listen to them, perhaps we have missed something. We should speak freely about the things that matter to us that they may have missed. We need to love them, and be lovable. Above all, follow the promoting of the Holy Spirit and trust that they are doing that too. When we are all led by the Holy Spirit the work we are doing will result in something far better than any one of us could have planned.

Who is our Lord?

We are told in 1 Kings chapter 17 that the people of Samaria “feared the LORD, and served their own gods.” In reading the whole account, we find that the people understood that they needed to reverence Yahweh to save their lives from the lions. But when it came to the mundane affairs of life, they sacrificed to other gods for the fertility of their fields, their flocks and their homes.

Well, we may say, that was a long time ago, and maybe those people didn’t really know any better. What’s my excuse? and yours?

Jesus said “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Of course not, we wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. We are very punctilious in our worship of Yahweh. But what influences our choices in clothing, vehicles, homes, lifestyles? I don’t believe that we have to deliberately strive to be different, but what motivates our choices from the many options available to us? Some Christians seem to be trying to prove that a Christian can live and party just like anybody else. What motivates that desire? Jesus said:  “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

The Apostle Paul wrote: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” Who, or what, has power over our choices?

Unless we allow Yahweh to be Lord over every aspect and every activity of our life, we are going to be very much like those people back in Samaria.

Compromise, good and bad

The original meaning of compromise is to settle a dispute by mutual concession. From there a secondary meaning developed of a compromise being an intermediate state between conflicting opinions or plans of action, reached by mutual concessions and adjustments. Thus far the word describes something necessary and beneficial in work, marriage, business dealings and many other areas of life.

If my position is that it has to be “my way or the highway,” I will sooner or later be going down the highway by myself. That’s what happened to Rehoboam. The men who had been counsellors of Solomon, his father, told him: “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants forever.” Perhaps Rehoboam felt too insecure to act in a way that seemed like weakness; as a result he was soon scurrying down the highway to Jerusalem.

There is another type of compromise that does not suggest a happy outcome: to compromise a reputation or a relationship by lowering our standards. Jeroboam did that by setting up a new worship system that claimed to still worship Jehovah, yet included a semblance of idolatry.

There can be no compromise with God; he will not negotiate with us. This does not mean that we must give unquestioning obedience to a church leader who claims to speak for God, yet teaches a doctrine or a way of life that is deeply compromised with something that is not of God. The apostle Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ.” A true follower of God will always have a sound answer for what he believes and the way he lives. A true follower of God, no matter what his position, must also be willing to accept reproof from his fellow believers.

The word “compromise” is not found in the Bible, but the meaning is. There are warnings about forgetting what God has done for us, about breaking the covenant we have made with Him, about seeking our security in other things than in Him alone. In 2 Chronicles 15:2, the prophet Azariah delivered this promise and warning to King Asa: “The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.”

Unfortunately, many Christian groups in our day have the idea that “love covers a multitude of sins,” means that, in the name of love, they should overlook things that compromise the faith. In the long run, that can only result in unrest and disunity. Many people today are searching for something solid to believe in. A soft, cushiony, feel-good Christianity does not supply the answer for their search. Uncompromising faith is the basis of a genuinely warm and loving fellowship.

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