Editorial - ‘We be brethren’, Gen. 13. 8.
John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
If there is one thing that has marred the testimony of the Lord’s people down through time it is the problem of personalities. Even a matter that involves the neglect or abandonment of a fundamental principle can and should be resolved without compromise, yet amicably, where there is a willingness to deal with it according to scripture and in the light of the fact that we are brethren and sisters in Christ. Yet, sadly, we persist in doing the adversary’s work by dividing brother from brother and assembly from assembly. The individual testimony is harmed or lost and the collective testimony is weakened or marred.
As we read through the Bible record of Genesis, it would be easy to classify Lot as, at best, a carnal Christian. His pursuit of earthly gain and influence must have caused pain to Abraham and, seeing Lot’s choice and movement towards Sodom, there must have been deep sadness in the heart of the man of faith. But, remarkably, Abraham never gave up on Lot. He found out that Lot had been taken captive by Chedorlaomer and went out to rescue him, Gen. 14. 13-16. He interceded on behalf of the cities of the plain, conscious that Lot was dwelling in the midst of Sodom, Gen. 18. 23-33. As we see believers around us drifting with the tide of the world, prepared, it seems, to jettison principles and practices we hold dear, what is our response? Are we quick to ‘write off’ our brethren and sisters? Do we criticize them publicly, or pray for them privately, and with deep conviction of soul?
What would have been our response to the people of the city of Jerusalem? They had rejected and killed the prophets, and stoned the servants of God that had been sent to them, Matt. 23. 37. After such action displayed over so many centuries, surely they deserved the visitation that would leave them desolate? Yet, as the Lord moved inexorably towards Calvary to experience the full hatred of that city and its leaders, we find Him weeping over Jerusalem, Luke 19. 41. ‘Love suffers long and is kind’, 1 Cor. 13. 4 NKJV. This is unconditional love! Those of us who have suffered the enmity of fellow saints and have been pilloried unjustly, are we prepared to weep, not over our own damaged pride but at the estrangement that has entered into our relations with a fellow believer. Our cause may be the right one. Scripture may be ‘on our side’. But let us remember, ‘we be brethren’!
As we draw to the close of the 66th year of this magazine, we continue in our endeavours to encourage the study of the scriptures, the practice of New Testament church principles and interest in gospel work. Apart from the core of material that we provide, including our prophetic and church truth topics, there are also articles on pastoral and devotional themes. In this issue there is the continuing series on elders but also a new expositional series for the centre pages. We continue to seek the Lord’s blessing upon our labours for Him.
JOHN BENNETT Ministry Articles Editor