In this study, we have noticed the importance of our journey through the rings and emphasized the essential urgency of entering into the center ring. However, we have also suggested that there is much unity to be achieved even outside that middle ring. How many more atrocities must we witness before embracing the reality of our differences and using them as a sifting agent to find common ground on which we can unite?
In this concluding section, I would like to share a short application story and a poem. Both are taken from my book "Fellowship of the Rings". I pray they will inspire you to greater levels of fellowship.
"As a young man, I once was approached by a preacher from another religious group. When he asked me for a Bible study, I proudly accepted his challenge. Later, after having time to think about what I had done, I started to worry about our upcoming meeting. What if I could not answer all of his questions? What if he challenged my beliefs and I had nothing to counter his positions? In a panic, I turned to my father for advice.
Dad is a well-trained, seasoned veteran of the ministry. And, it was my hope that he could provide me with a concise list of all the answers I needed to refute this false teacher. I never will forget the advice my father gave. 'Son, what are you afraid of? Are you concerned that in the course of this Bible study you might learn something? Remember, you never need to fear the truth, no matter who delivers it.'
I was shocked! I expected this skilled debater of spiritual truths to teach me the fine art of nailing a false teacher's hide to the wall. I wanted him to teach me how to conquer an enemy, not how to learn from a friend. But that day a very wise man taught me a very important lesson. It is possible to learn from others even when we do not fully agree on every point.
That is also the message of Acts 18:24-26. The inner circle must learn the fine art of learning. Even those outside our ring have information from which we can grow.
Before leaving this important passage, please notice again the dynamic example of coming together to reason together. If Aquila and Priscilla had not been in a religious service to hear Apollos preach, they might not have had the opportunity to speak to him later. If they had not targeted the most urgent truth about water and Spirit baptism, they might have distracted him with discussions of church tradition and lost him forever. If they had not reached out in a fellowship of love, they might have drove him away before drawing him in.
We cannot reason together if we will not come together. We cannot come together if we do not have some level of fellowship. In this powerful biblical account, we have an important example of how to reach out in fellowship to those who claim to be Christians but have not been born of the water and the Spirit. For the modern church to be like the New Testament church, we must follow this example."
Years ago, I wrote the following poem as an expression of my frustration over the narrow-mindedness that threatens Christian unity. It is my prayer that these few lines will make a fitting conclusion to this very important study.
You Cannot Go There!
“You cannot go there!”, all too often is heard
By servants who labor to spread the Lord’s Word.
“To meet with those people would be a great sin,
We disagree much - we can’t fellowship them!”
But Paul met with pagans at Athens of old,
Although they denied the true God we are told.
Yet, he went to Mars Hill and preached just the same,
Their altars he used for God’s name to proclaim.
Peter went to the temple, met with the Jews,
Though Christ they denied and His law they refused.
In spite of false teaching, undoubtedly heard,
He continued to go there and preach them the Word.
Jesus, Himself, served the lowest of creatures -
Swindlers and prostitutes, even false teachers.
If Jesus could go there and Peter and Paul,
It seems that all Christians should follow their call.
Our job is to go for the seed we must sow.
The work of the Lord is to make that seed grow.
Wherever a listening ear can be found,
Christians must go there - God’s love to spread ‘round.
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