Would a German Jew swing his door open wide for a Gestapo agent at the height of the holocaust? Where would his mind go as he clutched the door handle? Do you know Christians who cause you to experience those sorts of thoughts?
Whoaaa there –isn’t that a caustic, belligerent, intentionally shocking comparison? Maybe. Depends on if you’ve ever felt the tension. I’m surmising, but I think the Jew knows he’s free up until the moment he peeks through the keyhole to see the uniform of the Third Reich.* I’m free up until the moment I open the door for my brother who is about to judge my freedom. He’s going to go there you know – to that standard, that personal conviction that he must impose on me.
What do I do now? Paul says swing the door open with a smile, a hug, and an open heart. In fact, give him full access to your heart. (Romans 14:1) Seriously? My soul cries out, “Paul, you wouldn’t say that if you had met this guy”. Then my Bible trained mind corrects me – yes he would and he did. It’s the heart of God. Scripture makes it clear that Paul had to wrestle with every sort of personality and quirk of conviction that existed in the first century. Beyond that, Jesus Himself faced every doubting disciple with the calm assurance of His freedom in the Father. Thomas had to see and touch, Peter corrected Him and even cursed against Him, the sons of thunder wanted the preeminence, Judas was smarmy and in the end, evil. I think it’s fair to say that Jesus never closed His heart to any of them.
Ok, so I’m opening the door. I’m even going to pray that Jesus helps me open my heart but I do-not-like being put in this position!
If I may, dear brother/sister, pull you aside for a moment. This is your opportunity to display true, supernatural love in blazing glory! Conquer this and the legions of hell cannot refute it. This is the moment – this is where Christ shines! He must increase but we must decrease. John 3:30
Back to the door and my "sensitive of conscience" brother. What next? According to Romans 14 you enjoy his fellowship, encourage him as a brother, love him as Christ would, and DON’T bring up his issues of conscience for discussion. It’s forbidden. The free brother, the stronger brother, is not to make the weaker brothers’ doubts or convictions a matter of conversation. And definitely DO NOT flaunt your freedom in any way. Put your freedom on the shelf, limit your liberty, and express full-flighted love for your brother.
“But you don’t understand, he always brings it up!” Using always is almost always hyperbole in this context but I get where you’re coming from. You’ll have to wait for another post on that one…
*My apologies to anyone for whom these memories are real and intensly painful. Corrie Ten Boom speaks very clearly of her experience in just this sort of situation in one of her recorded talks.