Instead of sliding onto the seat, I fell into a hole. If the seat was not actually sitting on the floorboards of the car, it was close. As I tried to slide my legs under the steering wheel, I realized that it was practically resting on the seat. I sat for a minute fumbling around, and never found the right button, knob, or lever to fix anything. Needless to say, my driving experience that day was far from relaxing. Every time I got in, I fell in, squeezed under the steering wheel, and then spent the entire drive doing pull-ups on it so I could see where I was going.
All of that is because Keith is nearly six inches taller than I, and apparently his favored driving position is sitting on the floor with his knees up around his ears. That is why they make those seats movable—no two people are the same size and shape, and we all have our own definitions of comfort.
We tend to forget that with one another in the church. Depending upon when we first came into contact with the gospel, and the background we brought to the baptistery, we are all in different places in our faith and understanding. While the New Testament strongly hints that God has put a timetable on our learning (“when by reason of time you ought to be teachers”), it may not be my place to judge your progress. True, if one has been a Christian forty years and still craves the milk of the word rather than the meat, there just might be a problem, but most of my impatience with my brothers and sisters has little to do with circumstances so obvious.
The job of the priest under the old law was to bear gently with the ignorant and erring for he himself also is compassed with infirmity, Heb 5:2. Aren’t we all called priests of God under the new law, (1 Pet 2:5)? And Paul says to the weak I became as weak so that I might gain the weak, 1 Cor 9:22. He did not look down his nose at one who did not yet have his knowledge and comprehension of the plan of God through the ages.
When the church is growing spiritually and has reached a point that change in its traditions becomes expedient for the progress of the gospel, some people have problems with it. They are stuck in a place where traditions in their minds have become laws. It becomes more difficult for them to change those things. Are we patient in our teaching? Do we make ourselves “weak” by understanding how difficult this is for them, and so guide them along with compassion?
Mind you, we are not talking about changing the rules of the road or even how a car operates. You must still drive on the “right” side of the road. You still have to press the accelerator to go and the brake to stop, but some of us shift gears smoothly and automatically, while others need to do it manually, slowly and methodically, one gear at a time.
I usually see all those cars that impatiently pass me a little further down the road. Sometimes they sit on the shoulder with another car behind them, flashing its blue lights. Other times I quietly pull along side of them at the next stoplight as we both obey the law, idling in our separate lanes. So he got there ten seconds ahead of me—big deal. We both followed the rules and ended up in the same place.
We must patiently show one another how to move the car seat so we can all more easily see down the road, so none of us is left sitting in a hole, awkwardly doing pull-ups on the steering wheel, trying to see where he is going.
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, the reproaches of those who reproached you have fallen on me, Rom 15:1-3
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