January 24, 2012
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3
Finding the right balance is always a difficult thing to achieve.
Case in point: Oria, Italy. Recently, the city of Oria decided to build a basketball court and gym facility for its young people. That's a good thing, and nobody has a problem with it. The difficulty arose with where the new facility is located.
The basketball court was built over an ancient graveyard that dates from the third century before Christ. The graveyard was destroyed, and there is no way of ever recovering what has been lost.
The mayor of Oria says the town had no place for basketball and a great many places where archaeological excavations might take place. Besides which, the mayor maintains, all too often historical digs are left undug.
Leading the opposition is Franco Arpa, the retired local police inspector. He says, "... not everyone thinks it is better to play pick-up soccer matches where the cradle of civilization once stood."
So, who do you think is right?
You should know I ask the question because many congregations are dealing with similar situations. No, they don't have ancient graveyards, but they still are trying to find a proper balance between the old and the new, the comfortable and the cutting-edge, the traditional and the, well, you get the idea.
Tragically, these are the kinds of issues that can divide congregations, cause bad blood and pretty much mess up the witness of a church.
Now the purpose of this devotion is not to make decisions for a congregation or even to weigh in on one side or another. The point of these short paragraphs is to share a lesson taught by the town of Oria, Italy.
One side (the mayor's side) acted quickly to accomplish its irreversible purpose. That this was done without consulting with or considering the opinion of the others will have negative repercussions for years to come. That lesson, applied to the church, says, "Be careful. Consider others. Don't rush to do that which can never be undone."
It is my belief if this single suggestion was accepted, voters' meetings might be more pleasant and Christ's congregation could concentrate on doing the right things the crucified and risen Savior said needed doing.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am glad to stand up for those things that are important. When I take those stands, may they be the stands You would have me make. This I pray in my Savior's Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries