AN ADVENT PLEDGE IN LIGHT OF RECENT BOMB THREATS AND SYNAGOGUE SHOOTINGS

Rev. Dr. Michael O'DonnellI pledge, with my whole heart, and with the help of my sovereign Lord, Jesus Christ, to always seek the best that is genuine Christianity in my response and demeanor to those with whom I disagree.

I will not allow our inability to all think alike—however safe and desirable that might be—to keep me from loving my neighbor as Christ loved me.

My neighbor—be they “liberal”, “Conservative”, Democrat or Republican, Jew or Gentile—is created in the image of God and is therefore most worthy of my respect and a dignified advance in the light of my certainty that all have sinned and therefore all have fallen short of the glory of God.

I am equally persuaded that this pledge will not and does not interfere or make null-in-void what I believe to be true in light of so many competing religions and world views; but rather, clarifies and qualifies how then do I live and respond to those with whom, by reason of their close proximity, truly and genuinely differ with me in their theological convictions and moral sensibilities.

Further, I pledge to turn to the principles of MATTHEW 18 for guidance in handling disputes. There Jesus says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (verses 15–17). From these verses, several pledges can be found for resolving conflicts between Christians.

First, I pledge to address the matter with the other person personally. When matters are handled privately, misunderstanding can be more easily addressed; and there is great potential for the other person to respond positively. In addition, a private meeting avoids the problem of gossip that can occur when a matter is taken to others instead of the person involved.

Second, I pledge that, if a private discussion does not solve the issue, I will take one or two other believers and meet with the person with whom I have conflict. The biblical clause “that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” refers to the Old Testament law that required a charge to be supported by two or more witnesses to be valid. In the case of personal conflict, this principle allows for additional witnesses to observe the matter firsthand and help determine the proper course of action.

Third, I pledge that when there is no resolution after steps one and two, the matter is to be taken before the church, the Bishop. Only in rare instances will a Christian seeking to follow the Lord refuse to resolve conflict when the ENTIRE congregation of St. John’s agrees to follow Christ’s blueprint for conflict resolution.

Finally, I pledge that I will use this ADVENT SEASON for introspection and self-examination of my heart that it truly be inclined to LOVE GOD AND MY NEIGHBOR AS MYSELF. Amen.

~ by revdrmichael on January 5, 2019.

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