Tuesday, April 27, 2004

MORE JOHN STOTT. If a local church desires to be a sign of the kingdom, and
give evidence that Christ rules, this will be reflected also in the mundane matter of the decision-making process it employs. Each local church ought to be able to say (not
in feigned piety but in humble reality) 'it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us'. How then does the King guide his people? I mention as necessary conditions only prayer and patience. But often it is nothing but a formal and only partly sincere recognition that we desire to discover the will of God. What about a period of prayer instead? Can a Christian committee discuss together if it has not learned to pray together? Do we ever stop a committee in midstream, when it has reached an impasse, in order to pray again for light and wisdom? Secondly, patience. A truly
Christian group will determine never to trample on minority opinions. To foreclose a debate by taking a snap vote and to decide issues by a bare majority, while minds are still confused and consciences troubled, is a worldly way to conduct the business of the church. It expresses a distrust in God and a disrespect for the dissidents. Do we
not believe in the Holy Spirit of unity? Then we must wait patiently, listen to each other, and strive to understand each other's concerns and scruples, until the Spirit brings us to a common mind. The local church is both a theocracy (not in the special sense that Israel was but in the general sense of submitting to God as King) and a
brotherhood. Every attempt to crush disagreement of fellow believers violates these truths and is therefore incompatible with the nature of the church. It is to use
power like the world and to forget 'the meekness and the gentleness of Christ' (2 Cor. 10:1). The Kingdom and Community: Can the Kingdom of God Satisfy Man's Search for Love? (September 1979).

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