P. V. Reynolds
God help us to be spiritually sensitive and know where tolerance becomes compromise.
God has a special love for proper balance. He despises a false balance (Proverbs 11:1). Belshazzar could not pass God’s balances, and as a result he faced imminent judgment (Daniel 5:25-28).
The geometry of this earth is balanced. Job 37:16 says, “Dost thou know the balancing of the clouds . . . ?” The earth is tilted at exactly 23 1/2 degrees. Any other angle would tragically alter life on this planet. Either the icebergs would melt and flood the earth or the atmosphere would become a deep freeze.
God balanced this earth’s geometry 93 million miles away from the sun, just far enough away to warm this planet. Job 38 says, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth . . . who laid the measure thereof . . . who stretched the line upon it?”
Since the church is the masterpiece of God’s architecture, should it not be balanced? If it is to be, then her ministers must lead the way. One of the great blessings of organization is bringing together men of diverse ministries and characteristics into a harmonious force for God. The universe is full of examples of opposites that work in harmony when balanced together. Electricity is one force that demonstrates this principle. The beauty of balance is seen only when seemingly divergent forces are brought into interaction. Solid, stable growth is produced by balance.
Consider the following:
– The Word of God balances the Christian life with peace and holiness (Hebrews 12:14).
– Worship must be balanced with truth and spirit (John 4:24).
– Strong people walk the balance between adversity and prosperity (Proverbs 30:89).
– Trust in God gives us balance between position and obscurity (Psalm 75:6-7).
– Children must be trained with a balance of nature (love) and admonition (discipline) (Ephesians 6:4).
– God’s dealing with man is balanced between goodness and severity (Romans 11:22).
One of the frustrations of a leader is in the area of spiritual governments. A godly leader will try to truly produce a spiritual body that is neither liberal nor legalist, neither loose nor intolerant, having a strong standard of holiness without being dictatorial or brittle.
After ministering for almost twenty years as a District Superintendent of two districts, nine years as a missionary leading the great Jamaican church, and eleven years in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, it has fallen my lot to face frustrations and even anguish in trying to produce a balanced district. Within the jurisdiction of a district there are men of different backgrounds. Many times these good men were trained in different parts of the country, bringing to the district various and diverse viewpoints on, it seems, every conceivable subject. Balancing the ministry into a building fitly framed together is no light task. However, over the years, the Lord has shown me several powerful principles which have assisted me in this great work.
1. As a balanced church we must preach all of the Articles of Faith of the United Pentecostal Church International as absolutely necessary. Acts 16:4 reads, “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep. . .” We all came into the fellowship saying that we believe and will obey them. A person’s word and testimony of Christian honesty dictates his compliance to the biblical doctrine, code of ethics, and behavior of the spiritual house that he is part of.
2. In a balanced church certain issues have to be left to the personal conscience of the local church pastor. Besides the Articles of Faith, there are certain standards and convictions widely known in our worldwide fellowship on which a consensus of belief is all but impossible. These convictions are deep-seated in the hearts of some, while not held and believed by others. To contend for one’s views in these areas only divides us. Should wedding rings be considered part of the apostolic instruction on gold and ornaments? Was the veil on women in Paul’s day only a first-century custom? Of what substance should the emblems be in our communion service? To contend for one point or another on an international or district level only brings unnecessary division.
Paul placed certain foods and special days into this area. “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord, and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it . . .” (Romans 14:6).
3. In a balanced fellowship local churches and individual pastors must be concerned with more than self-interest when dealing with compromise. Personal compromise does not, take place unless one’s conscience and personal beliefs have been betrayed. However, when pastors and local church congregations join themselves to a body with a worldwide constituency, they have to be concerned with the views, beliefs, and conscience of the total fellowship.
The spiritual fiber that binds the thousands of churches and ministers together into a homogeneous body of evangelism can be compromised by a pastor and congregation even if they have been true to their own consciences. There are some things that are bigger than ourselves. “Where= fore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth lest I make my brother to offend” (I Corinthians 8:13).
4. In a balanced church tolerance has its limits. If our fellowship is to be held together with the bond of love and peace, there must be a certain amount of tolerance in our midst. However, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, tolerance is: (a) the difference between the allowable maximum and minimum; (b) the amount of variation allowed from a standard or accuracy of specification. The apostolic church, in bringing about balance, can only go so far in its quest for unity. May God help us to be spiritually sensitive and know where tolerance becomes compromise!
The United Church of Canada is not united anymore. This organization is the largest Protestant church in Canada, boasting 900,000 members. It now is embroiled in controversy over recommending that sexually active homosexuals become ministers. They are recommending this policy under the umbrella of tolerance. The theological conservatives of the organization are threatening to walk out because tolerance has gone too far!
5. To ensure continuing balance leadership on every level must speak up on the moral issues of our day. Our world has become a society of moral decay. If ever the apostolic ministry needs to lift its voice aloud and cry against the evils of our day, it is now! “0 sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord …” (Isaiah 1:4).
Every lever of leadership in the church needs to lift its voice against attitudes and behavior that will bring about a deterioration of the church and its standards. It is hard to accept the fact that our General Superintendent has no more power than an international union leader, or that District Superintendents are nothing more than local union leaders trying to keep together the administrative store.
Only Jesus Christ is autonomous! As King, He leads through a theocratic form of government. Leadership on every level is part of His great plan and must speak out to give moral direction.
May God grant the ministers of the United Pentecostal Church a submissive spirit to the authority of leadership, whether on the local church, district; or international level. Both Peter and Paul gave us good examples in the first century church. They both submitted to the leadership of James on the issue of circumcision.
6. The freedom of the pulpit will guarantee biblical balance. Somewhere among the principles we have to find the balance between extremism on the one hand and freedom for the man of God to unburden his soul on the other. If our movement starts muzzling_ the preacher as he preaches on sin and moral issues, we are in trouble.
Preaching is God’s method of leading His church. He will use no other way to speak to His church or to the world. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).
Brother Reynolds is the Superintendent of the British Columbia District, United Pentecostal Church International.
The above article, “Building a Balanced International Fellowship” was written by P. V. Reynolds. The article was excerpted from Forward magazine. April- June, 1988.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.