The concept of the stumbling block has been on my heart lately. The scandals we read about are indeed stumbling blocks to people. Yet I see so many approaches to Christians that are HUGE stumbling blocks as well.
I think it truly dawned on me when I had been reading more and more about the New Pope Francis. You know me! I love history, and he is part of history now. He is so opposite of what we are used too. He really draws you in by his love of others.
Compare that to some Christian leaders get so busy pontificating on how people need to view things, and how they live their lifes. Yet, you wonder if they realize how much they turn OFF people with their approach. Yes, they are told about this. They pretty much blow off their critics, and let everyone know they NEED to be told the truth.
Notice, you were not addressing ‘the truth’. You were addressing their delivery of the ‘truth’. They have answers for that as well. They go onto this speech from Matthew 7 about how most people will take the WIDE path in life, and others that ‘get it’ will take the smaller one.
Notice that still doesn’t address their delivery.
I guess they don’t wish to face that there is a REAL possibly that their delivery is a real stumbling block for their brother – along with their actions. Then you compare that to the delivery system of the new Pope? It startling in differences.
I’m not Catholic, but I have say Pope Francis is extremely refreshing to me. His humility and care for everyone – not just Catholics – shows me he does indeed have Jesus in his heart. He has that ‘delivery’ down pretty well, although I can see why he rubs ‘conservatives’ the wrong way. (giggles) He isn’t stuffy enough for them!
I want to compare approaches, and not so much to get into ‘denominations’, etc. Lets view the delivery system, and the stumbling block we present to others at times.
I firmly believe even if you disagree with someone their delivery and attitude can still leave with you a sense of respect for the person. One approach can be very attractive, an other repels. The repelling nature of a pastor can be a stumbling block to others when you can’t feel the presence of God within them.
Doug Phillip’s is very popular in certain circles, but the man is clearly ‘out there’ with a lot of his beliefs. Its always left a bad taste in my mouth how churches can attack certain aspects of the ‘world’, and yet leave cultish figures alone and unchecked. Doug Phillips is a great example of them ignoring.
Doug Phillips, an outspoken proponent of male “dominion” over women and a leading home-schooling activist, has stepped down as president of his Texas-based Vision Forum Ministries after admitting to an inappropriate relationship with a woman
I guess its easier for them to poke at generalities in society than it is for them to point out groups that preach a dark gospel. The bible clearly – to me anyway – states we are to speak out against false teachings. Yet, sadly if you pay close attention? There are many ‘church’ circles that tend to intertwine themselves, and that could be why they won’t speak against the other.
Doug Phillips told the world he was stepping down from some of his responsibilities due to a long, ongoing emotional affair with someone besides his wife. You will notice a pattern of how they step down for a short period of time, and then their ‘elders’ announce to the world they are all better now – and come back. They go on with life as if it never happened, and go back to that same nasty, ugly attitude towards anyone that doesn’t agree with them.
One sentence from an article I read about Doug Phillip’s recent fall that seemed to sum it up quite nicely.
His fellow patriarchs will help him in this “restoration” because they have to defend the system they’ve built.
Notice they will remind everyone that we are fallen humans, and are prone to sin. Sure, there is truth to that statement. The big difference is how certain fallen humans are treated, compared to the ones in leadership. You can pretty much guarantee the power ‘pastor’ will be redeemed, but the individual in most cases is still considered stunned and revolting.
Remember the world to them seems to be the real enemy. The world doesn’t agree with how they view things that they call ‘biblical’, and they are quick to call them names and tear them down. Then you have the statements about how ‘those’ people don’t appreciate marriage, children, nor God’s word. A difference of opinion places you automatically in that camp. Unless you bow down to their way of thinking you will always be ‘one of those’. Its always this ‘us against them’ game.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. - 1 Corinthians 8:9
You hear them say they LOVE everyone, and yet their words and actions do not line up! No accountability for that either.
Yet, they don’t view that as a stumbling block.
I suppose that is why I have been watching this new Pope. I have to tell you his approach towards the world is refreshing to me.
You can almost feel his concern, humility, and care for everyone – not just Catholics. Again this week he was in the news showing his concern for the lest of these and captivated the world.
He also is calling out its hierarchy to move away from their TONS of small minded rules, and get back to serving as Christ has asked them too.
RULES are very important to some churches, and there is a lot of them – written and unwritten. Those are the upmost importance to ‘show’ the world their sense biblical ….whatever – fill in the blank.
This is a stumbling block.
The Pope backed up his statements of how the church needs to come back to service of her people when he took immediate action against what others coined as the Bishop of Bling. A Bishop that flaunted his wealth, position, and power by requesting a $20,000 bathtub in his personal residence. The bishopric estate’s renovation up to $43 million – more than five times the original estimate. Pope Francis saw him for 20 minutes, and removed him from his position of power.
Let’s compare Pope Francis’s approach towards ‘Bishop of Bling’ and then the ‘show’ since Stuart Watson's expose on the finances of Steven Furtick and Elevation Church began on October 22nd. One leader asks for transparency of finances, and the other has his brother attack the news reporter by calling him ‘half a man’ and a ‘two bit hack’ when questions about the opulence is questioned.
Yes, this is a stumbling block
Women in the Church
I may not agree with Pope Francis on the role of clergy being only male, but his approach towards women is very gentle compared to screams from other churches about how they are emasculating the church by asking to find ways to serve. Pope Francis wishes Women to be called to service, not servitude. He is also encouraging the church to find new ways for women to serve God’s people to fulfill their calling to do so.
“From here, we must restart that work of deepening and of promoting, for which I have already hoped many times. Even in the Church, it is important to ask oneself: what presence does the woman have?” he said.
“I suffer – speaking truthfully! – when I see in the Church or in some ecclesial organizations that the role of service that we all have, and that we must have - but that the role of service of the woman slips into a role of “servidumbre” [Spanish: servitude]. . . But when I see women that do things out of “servitude” and not out of service,” said Pope Francis. “And that it is not understood well what a woman ought to do. Can she be valued more? It is a reality that is close to my heart and for this I wanted to meet … and bless you and your commitment. Thank you, let us move this forward together! May most holy Mary – a great woman, eh? – the Mother of Jesus and of all God’s children, accompany us. Thank you!”
Compare that to statements about the relationships between a man and woman from Doug Wilson:
In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. - Romans 14:13
These ‘I’m above you’ or statements to encourage her servitude – are they not a stumbling block?
Approaches towards the Hurting
A while ago I was truly bothered by articles I saw written to the hurting. They reminded me of an obstinate child as they mocked the people they wrote about.
One addressed, Should we Say the Church Hurt me?
The person could mean the big-C Church has hurt them–all Christians everywhere. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But think about it. When a person says “The church has hurt me” and they’re refusing to visit or join any local congregation of believers they have practically projected their hurt onto the entire universal body of Christ! They have assigned their offense to every possible Christian and Christian congregation imaginable. Practically, their distrust has reached universal proportions. In every case this is false. We might provide some of our best care by helping our friends recognize the practical universalism in some of their reactions. Hopefully we can get them to dial it down to the next possible level.
The other addressed issues people feel the church is silent on, and need to speak out on them. They were told, ‘Stop Slandering Christ's Bride’
For years it was merely an overused rhetorical trope, a hyperbolic claim that followed a predictable pattern:
Step 1: Take an issue of concern for Christians (e.g., abortion, sex trafficking, global persecution, the gospel).
Step 2: Claim that no one in our churches is talking about the issue.
Step 3: Assume the dual role of educator and Old Testament prophet by explaining why the issue matters and why the church must stand up and speak out about it.
'Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD - Leviticus 19:14
The Pope’s approach is meet them where they are at, and build them from the ground up. Nit picking how individuals ‘word things’ isn’t the place to start. The above examples are people being told WHERE to be first, and we will go from there.
The role of church – Catholic or not – is to met the individual where they are instead. One place asks you to play the role, and acts like you have some contiguous disease until you can. The other is a place of peace that a injured person can come to for healing, love, and a warm heart.
“I see clearly,” the pope continues, “that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up. – Pope Francis
The role playing is a stumbling block.
What is the Stumbling Block?
A stumbling block isn’t something you can use just because something offends you. I mean the ridiculous could use that as an excuse for anything. In other words, anything that you do that they don’t like they can claim is a stumbling block.
When you encourage others to SIN - or follow your sinful actions - under the guise of ‘faith, biblical’ etc? You are a stumbling block to others. You say wrong is right. When you people call you out on it? You say right is wrong.
The examples I gave above of pastors or churches having wrong attitudes, thinking to much of themselves, picking and choosing which are truly repentant by their own standards. They encourage their following to do the same. When you do that? You are indeed a stumbling block.
With the Doug Phillips example? His following will not allow him to stay away to long, because they will fear their belief system may apart if that happens. So they will sugar coat things, and use terms like he is a fallen sinner like the rest of us to ease him back into his place. They encourage followers of their belief system to enable weak repentance, and tell them its acceptable under the circumstances. That is a stumbling block.
With the Steven Furtick and Elevation Church? They encourage their flock to circle the wagon, and tell them that the ‘world’ is attacking their good work. They will refuse transparency, accountability, or admit error because they give their followers the impression that you are giving into the ‘world’ and its standards if you do. They won’t even go far enough to clarify anything to remove the cloud of suspicion, but encourage paranoia and attacks towards others. Being afraid to show the world the light of truth they claim is there is a stumbling block.
When Doug Wilson mocks, calls people names, and reminds women are their servitude to him and all other males? He encourages males to think to much of themselves, and manipulates women and children into thinking they must bow to this new Lord and Master….because the bible tells them too. Twisting biblical concepts so you can have your pedestal of power, and lying to others to make them feel it is right? That is a stumbling block, because it encourages people to believe in the wrong Gospel.
The Gospel Coalitions young authors shame hurting people, and make fun of them by pointing out how their ‘hurt’ is really a joke. Encouraging others to approach with warmth, caring and compassion is God’s way – and a show of the fruit the bible speaks of. They instead encourage their followers to speak to hurting in a child like fashion, “Wahh! I’m so HURT, and I have to complain all the time that no one LISTENS”. Placing these types of articles on their ministry website encourages others to act the same to hurting people they run into. That is a huge stumbling block.
I used the Pope as an opposite example, because you can clearly see his warmth, compassion and care for the world. He is the first to remind you that he is a sinner first, and perfection is not possible. He wouldn’t reject you because you are not Catholic, and would welcome you right where you are. You don’t have to be Catholic or understand all aspects of it when you read this interview with the new Pope. A Big Heart Open to God. I encourage you to check it out, before listening to all the opinions we hear today. Make up your own mind, and don’t take my word for it.
With all the hate filled teachings towards homosexuality that seem so popular today? I felt and saw no fear mongering, warnings of dread, or distain in the following statement from him that I will leave you with today. Where to often we close the door on others the Pope encourages us to leave it open:
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.
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