Friday, August 21st, 2009
"I left you in Crete, that you might correct the things that were defective and might make appointments of older men." (Titus 1:5)
Titus’ carrying out that assignment involved consciences. Paul advised Titus about the qualifications of congregation elders and then pointed out that there were “many unruly men, profitless talkers, and deceivers of the mind.” These were “subverting entire households by teaching things they ought not.” Titus was to “keep on reproving them.” (Titus 1:10-14; 1 Timothy 4:7) Paul said that their minds and consciences were “defiled,” using a word with the sense of being stained, as a fine garment might be stained with dye. (Titus 1:15) Some of those men could have been of Jewish background, for they ‘adhered to the circumcision.’ Congregations today are not being undermined by men with that particular outlook; still we can learn much about the conscience from the counsel that Paul gave to Titus.
(Watchtower issue: 10/15/07, 2:1, 2)
*there are 2 additional points I want to bring out, which are in-line with today's text discussion, that are so important to remember. Because this mentality is one of the prime contributors to the ongoing violence and fighting between people with differing religious beliefs.
1st - the erroneous belief that adhering to specific religious traditions or rules is more important than showing love for our fellowman. Not only did Jesus condemn the Jewish religious leaders on this point, since they would unbendingly stick to 'the letter of the law' without mercy, compassion, or exception. But also, think about how ingrained the tradition of circumcision was in Paul's day. Timothy (who had never been circumcised as a child, since his father was Greek) actually agreed to get circumcised as an adult! -Simply in order to preach the Christian gospel freely, without hinderance, since it was proving to be a 'stumbling block' and such an ongoing issue for the traditional Jews, which they just couldn't seem to get past. So when Jewish-Christians began reverting back to their previous Jewish customs & traditions AFTER becoming Christians, you can see why it was stirring-up all kinds of problems with the people and causing divisions, since the congregations were now made up of uncircumcised Gentile believers.
2nd - Even if a fellow Christian fails to live by the same Christian standards that we were taught to do, there is absolutely NO JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER for physically assaulting, abusing or harassing someone who doesn't. (and the same principle applies regardless of race or religion)
Jesus, and his apostles, NEVER participated, advocated, or made justification for any form of violence or aggression towards another human being...much less a 'forced conversion' of beliefs onto those who didn't practice the same religious principles that they taught. This point can't be emphasized enough, since there are still religious leaders out there, who incite their followers to commit all manner of horrendous crimes against their fellowman...including acts of brutality against other Christians who practice a different form of Christian worship. If a person is worshipping God the wrong way, that's for God himself to judge & decide. We have no right to engage in anything other than TEACHING people what the Bible says, when it comes to what God requires of us, and the form of worship that's pleasing to him, (while still doing so in a respectful and peaceable manner). Anyone who claims they have the right to FORCE another person to follow specific rituals or traditions (according to their understanding of the scriptures), is not following the teachings of Christ.
*I'm gonna post a yearbook experience later today which relates to this topic, -which totally appalled me (as any persecution story does) but it's so much worse when an innocent child is violated and attacked in the name of religion.