Agreeing To Disagree
The point is: God reserves the right to use people with whom I may disagree.
Alright thank you very much, and hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, that greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your friend Dr. Cook and I’m delighted to be with you once again. I look forward to these times when we can share together, by way of radio, just like a vacation with pay. Oh, it’s so great to look into God’s Word and share something with somebody else. Have you tried that yourself? Get something from the Lord for yourself that is from His word, as you wait before God in prayer and in His Word, and He whispers something to your own heart and then before the day is out, share that with someone else. Oh will be a blessing to you and to that someone else, I guarantee it.
Well we’re looking it to Mark the ninth chapter and we got to that 38th verse. John answered and said, “Master, we saw one casting out demons in Thy name and he followeth not us and we forbade him, because he followeth not us”, but Jesus said, “Forbid him not for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name that can likely speak evil of Me, for he that is not against us is on our part”. We saw, we forbade. The action was, casting out demons in the name of Jesus, the relationship was, he followeth not us. He’s not a member of our group. We have that idea of getting together in groups and clubs and denominations, don’t we?
Many years ago, I suppose it would be 40 at least now, how the time goes by, but the memory is still fresh in my mind. I was trying to establish some work for the Lord, in a certain city and the chairman of the crusade that was then going on, talked with me. He was so kind. He was a perfect gentleman, and he looked at me and said lovingly, he said, “Brother”, he said, “it’s not that were agin’ you, we just don’t need you”. See, we got our own group, we’re doing it, don’t bother us. That’s human nature and you can expect it, wherever you go. The only way you can break into a clique, this is, this is not from the Scripture, this is just a Cookism, I’ll throw it in free okay? You are starting in a new church and their clique there and they seem to exclude you. People stop talking when you come around and all that. Hurts, doesn’t it? People write me and say, “I can’t seem to break into the circle of friends. I just don’t know what to do”. The only way you can break into a clique is by letting the Lord use you to meet a need of some member or members of that group.
That takes time, give God time with people. All you have to do is shine and keep full of the love of God and look for a chance to serve. “By love”, says Paul, “serve one another”, and that verb, serve that he used in the Greek New Testament, is dualuo, will which mean serve like a slave. Not a very glamorous activity. By love, serve as the you were a slave. Serve one another. It’s the only way you’ll ever break into a clique. Give God time, keep shining, and look for a chance to meet a need, to serve in other words. Don’t make a federal case of it. Don’t go up and say, “I’m going to serve you now and help you”. Oh boy, they’ll give you up for lunch, for Lent, you know that. He doesn’t belong to our group, well that exclusiveness is still with us today, it’s part of human nature. He doesn’t use our methods, if you don’t do it my way, then you must be wrong. Well, the fact is, God uses lots of different methods, doesn’t He? Oh yes. And then, you’re not contributing to our image. The way we want people to look at us is not consistent with what you are doing. You don’t contribute to the image we want to portray. Does that sound familiar?
Somebody comes into the community and sets up a work for God and the methods are different and the image is different and the appearance is different and people raise an eyebrow say, “That can’t be of the Lord. It’s so different from the way we want to be seen”. Well beloved, I’ll tell you, pay more attention to the serving and less to the way people see you. The way people perceive you is based upon whether or not you’re meeting any needs. It does no good to preen and to strut do and to trim your evangelical feathers, as a special bird in God’s henhouse.
You have to specialize in serving people if you’re going to be appreciated. They don’t belong to our group, they are using our methods, they don’t contribute to our image, and they are not producing any praise for us. The praise is going to somebody else. Oh dear, again looking back over 40,50 years, I can remember something that somebody said, oh you know, these things just stick in your mind, don’t they? Somebody said, not to me, thank God, but to somebody else, said, “Here, I have I have started a work in this area and I’ve poured my life into it, now you come in and start something new. What’s that going to do to me”? I remember the plaintive tone in his voice at that point. Hey, don’t worry about who’s getting the sunshine. God will give you all the sunshine you can stand, if you just stay faithful to Him. Amen?
Well, that’s all review but I just thought we tick off some of those things. So, the point is God reserves the right to use people with whom I may disagree. Yes, He does. That’s happened to me different times.
I can remember traveling in Europe, being met by a man whose first words to me were, “Now, come to my house and I will clue you in so you don’t make the stupid mistakes others do”. Well, I thought that was kind of an ill omen to begin with, and I was little offended because this man was being supported by funds that I had raised, and we paid the rent for his house, and we were paying the cost of the meeting that had been set up for that evening and all that, but anyhow I went with him and over a cup of tea, and some homemade cookies, he then told me, “Now you Americans, you do things different and it’s kind of stupid, and I want to tell you that, you preach the best you can tonight and then when you have finished preaching, you turn the meeting over to me and I’ll try to repair the damage”. Well, I tell you, oh dear, the Lord mercifully kept my mouth shut. You know the old rule, open mouth, insert foot.
So, God was merciful to me and He kept my mouth shut, but I have to tell you I was offended, and the smoke probably was coming out of my ears. I thought to myself, here I am and I’m responsible for a considerable slice of effort across the world and this man is being supported by our group, and here he’s telling me off and telling me how stupid I am and so on, wow. So, I decided then that nothing could possibly happen in that meeting that night, that it was going to be a total failure, and with that thought in mind, I went to the meeting. Well, I preached by interpretation and when you’re preaching but with an interpreter you have to specialize in short, complete sentences. Leave off the dangling modifiers, don’t start a sentence with a modifying phrase like, when I was in Moscow. You don’t do it that way. You use short, complete sentences and you leave off the slang and you leave off most of your illustrations and you go right to the point, at least that’s the way it has worked for me across the years and that’s what I did.
I preached the gospel the best I knew how, and then when I finished I said let us pray, I stepped back from the podium and this dear brother stepped up. I sat down and sulked. Can’t you just see it, sitting there, all right nothing’s going to happen now. He simply said, those of you who wish to repent of your sins and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, get up from your seat and come to this room of prayer, and he pointed to a room on our right and the congregations left and we’ll sing a hymn while you’re coming, and so they began to sing, and here came these dear people, tears running down their faces, evident conviction and heart hunger, and I sat there astounded, and then the Lord just sort of tapped me on the shoulder and said, see we don’t have to do it your way, it just has to be done My way. Well Iwas greatly convicted and I hope, oh I hope I learned the lesson that God reserves to use, reserves the right to use people with whom I may disagree, and who may indeed disagree with me.
Methods are not sacred, God’s Gospel is what counts. “He followeth not us”. Beware of the tendency to be exclusive beloved. It can parade under any number of labels, defending the faith, that’s a good one. Fundamentalist, that’s a term that has fallen into ill use because people have smeared it, but I still like to say that I believe in the fundamentals of the faith, don’t you? But the tendency is to become exclusive and say, we are the people.
I preached in a tiny church years ago, where there was just a handful of dear people and after the service was over somebody came up to me, one of the officers of the church said, “You know with a small crowd here, but we believe in quality not quantity. We don’t want a big crowd, we just want the best”. I thought, oh boy deliver me.
Exclusivism, watch it. It can, it can that happen under any number of innocent sounding labels, but the result is the same you keep people out. Jesus said, “Forbid him not. He that is not against us is on our part”. Well, what, on what, on what is real Christian cooperation based?
Time will run out before we get at that at all, but the let me just tick off what it is, what it’s based on as you look at this passage that follows. “Based on loyalty to Christ”, verses 39,40, and 41, “based on true compassion for His little ones”, verse 42, “based on personal holiness”, verse 43 to 48, “and based on spiritual reality”, what the Bible calls salt, at the close of the chapter. If you have those qualities beloved, and if somebody else has those qualities, you can get along pretty well. You agree? Let’s tear down all fences except those that pertain to our blessed Lord Jesus Christ and the inerrant Word of God, and the Gospel delivered, the faith once delivered to the saints. The rest of the fences don’t really matter, do they? Well, we’ll get at this again the next time we get together.
Dear heavenly Father today, oh may we have a big enough heart to receive people who may disagree on method, but who love Jesus and His Word, I pray in His name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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