As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you."
I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.
We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
Here are some practical ideas, I know they are random. I hope each of you will brainstorm and make more progress than I and I am sure you will because I am the least theologically educated amongst the bloggers (I admit it and I know it's true). Let me start with some.
1 -- Public prayer. I don't think public prayer is a sin, it's just a sin if that's the only praying going on for that person.... Prayer praises God, and that cleanses us. It includes God... one of the specifically neat things about prayer is that when we make requests we get to hope in God to answer them right here in the midst of discussions. He gets the glory.
2 -- Public worship. I realize some people hold convictions possibly that keeps them from fellowship with others. We don't want to harm their preferences according to their conviction. They are free to choose whether to join in on an individual basis, but it is good for them to see worship in the lives of those holding "wrong beliefs" just as they also offer up praise to God.
3 -- Dealing with anger immediately. Holding something against your brother affects the worship God finds acceptable. Forgiveness should be a regular practice.
4 -- Praising strengths. If we could spend a little more time praising strengths and correct intentions and theology, we would see how much there is to praise God and thank Him for. He commanded us to always pray with thanksgiving.
5 -- Freedom of conscience but bound to community. Practicing the truths brought to us in Romans 14 on disputable matters, we should be careful to both defend freedom yet not spoil the weaker brothers.
6 -- Human need is more important than advertising doctrine. I think that's pretty self-explanatory.
7 -- Practice faith. This is the only thing that pleases God. Theological discussion isn't "good" unless it appropriates trust in God to supply according to our needs.
8 -- Hope and love. Love is the greatest and most essential aspect to obeying God.
9 -- Be looking intently for your returning brother. The Father saw the prodigal son and met him on the road far down from the house. That's because he was always looking for him. Brainstorm creative ways to encourage your brother toward confession of his problem-spots.
10 -- We might be best to camp a few steps short of undertaking Paul's authority. Dr. Dave Anderson said during the FGA discussion panel in regards to heresy, that he wasn't sure when it was the right time to label "heresy" and stop discussion because he hadn't been given the authority which Paul had to declare gospel in scripture. Ever-being students of the Word we can make some good cases but I think at this time, has not everyone been proven a heretic -a schismatic- at minimum? I think so. I think everybody's been put on that list. If our neighbor is teaching "heresy" -- it'll be the last thing they admit as they are led through the scriptures. If we focus on scripture and focus on grace and the power of God, we might take them the right way, and all the way to repentance.
11 -- Fellowship is by faith. We know what walking in the Spirit looks like; the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. God purifies both "them" and "us" by faith. We are equally useful to Him in that sense so we can not condemn that which God has called clean.
12 -- Information ought to redeem, not condemn. Jesus used information not to exclude, but to creatively and personally redeem the wayward. This is the purpose for apologetics.
13 -- Exercising free will is good. It is good to surrender others in faith to the holy conviction that comes by the Spirit after we're done sharing our beliefs. The good news is God chastens legitimate sons.
14 -- Restoration. A Christian sitting on the sidelines is not God's will. He wants to have His children active in the ministry to which they've been called.
If we could encourage one another to more of these things... I think it will only bring us blessing from the LORD. Now I don't mean to appear self-righteous and jump the gun by making this list before others have (if they were planning it). I see that most everybody already practices these things at least in their own lives as well as on the internet, and have been for some time. I realize I haven't listed anything new to any of you. My interest has always been to humanize the internet for FGT. (True religion is man-focused & God-focused.)
I purposely left this post un-theologized, un-poetic and un-complicated. I want God's Spirit, His own "open heart" be the main focus....