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Second Mile Religion

Second Mile Religion
By Paul O. Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
May  2007

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IT IS NOT EASY TO GIVE A full and complete definition of Christianity. The religion Christ introduced to the world and made effective with the shedding of His blood on the cross is like a diamond with its many facets. To appreciate its full value and beauty it must be viewed from its many different angles. This religion makes for a beautiful life and insures happiness in heaven forever.
Christianity is God's plan to reconcile sinful man to himself. The apostle Paul says in 2 Cor. 5:19 "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." This plan is given to purge man of sin and bring his will into harmony with the will of God. The apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, 4, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." And the apostle Paul says, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
The "sermon on the mount" recorded in Matthew chapters five, six and seven teaches motives and dispositions that must characterize the children of God. Jesus taught His followers that not just the overt act of sin is condemned, but the motive behind it. The law of Moses condemned murder. The law of Christ condemns being angry with a brother without cause (5:21, 22). Likewise the act of adultery was condemned in the Old Testament. The law of Christ condemns the look of lust (5:27, 28). In Lev. 24:20 the law of Moses allowed personal revenge (an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth). But Jesus taught His followers that personal revenge was wrong (verses 38 and 39). The Lord used three illustrations to teach second mile religion. He says, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." In the next illustration He says, in verse 40, "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also." In the third illustration he says, "And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain"
First mile religion is discharging the bare stint of duty, and no more. And the Lord knew there would be members of the church who would be like that. But He taught that a person who tried to get by, by just doing what he had to do is an "unprofitable servant." Listen to Him as he teaches his followers: "But which of you,having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."
Every Judgment parable in the Bible deals with the sin of neglect. The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:1430); the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31); the barren fig tree that received the curse of Jesus (Matt. 21:17-19). Laziness and indolence in the Lord's service is condemned. "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1). "Awake thou that sleepest" (Eph. 5:14). "As we have therefore opportunity let us do good unto all men" (Gal. 6:10). "...Always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
Many have an imperfect conception of Christianity. Some are inclined to believe a person is good because he is not bad. We often mistake harmlessness for holiness. A person is not a good Christian just because he communes on Lord's day and stays out of trouble during the week. In the preview of the Judgment in Matt. 25:31-46 we see the condemnation of those who failed to do what Christians are supposed to do. The question should not be, "Whatdo I have to do?" It should be, "As a Christian, what can I do?" The bare stint of duty is not enough. The Lord demands second mile religion. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou
goest (Eccl. 9:10).

Paul O. Nichols

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By Robert Wayne Kornegay
[The following article was submitted by brother Kornegay for publication. Please read it carefully and consider his thoughts].
It has come to my attention again that some of our most precious leaders of the church have been labeled as the "head man" or wanting to have preeminence over the church today. Having been labeled like this myself once, I feel compelled to write this article.
In Luke 16:8 the Bible tells us "for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." This great biblical principle could not be any truer than in our local congregation's business meetings.
Let me explain. We all know that God's intended way for Church leadership is to have elders in every congregation (Titus 1 :5). When a congregation has qualified Elders and Deacons it should run like a well-oiled machine. This is God's intended way. (James 5:14 & 1 Peter 5:1).
However, for various reasons (no qualified candidates, small or young congregations, etc.) many of our congregations have not yet ordained elders in God's chosen way for local leadership. Many want to, but at present are not able to, have elders. They are forced to choose the only option left, which is for the brothers of the congregation to make decisions in a democratic way on issues concerning the church when they gather to discuss such matters periodically.
Now, of course, these meetings often consist of all of the male members. >From young to old. From the spiritually mature to the spiritually young. And may I add that physical maturity does not always equal spiritual maturity. Yet many times, the opinions of the spiritual young (whether young or old physically) are considered with just as much weight as the opinions of our learned brethren. When this happens, we are not using good judgment.
Many times the learned brethren will speak up (because they have the experience and countless hours of Bible study) and they are labeled as wanting to be the "Big Man" or the "Big Shot" or some other derogatory name. Dear friends, the reason they speak up is because they know the answers. They know the answers because of their years of experience in the field and countless hours of able study on Bible subjects. God is very liberal with giving us wisdom, however it does not come without a price. (James 1 :5; 1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Tim.2: 15.)
It is in these situations that the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (Luke 16:8).  Let me give you an example from the medical field. Today, most hospitals are governed by a board of directors. This board of directors consists of qualified individuals who are educated in the medical field. Without proper training no one would be considered to serve on this board. Much less would they be asked to give their opinion in matters of great importance such as the health and welfare of a patient.
Because we are not doctors, our worldly wisdom and common sense tells us that we should keep our opinions to ourselves if we should ever find ourselves participating on such a board. We should not pretend to be something we are not. The results could be fatal if an unqualified individual was put on a medical board.
We can all see this very clearly in our example. Brothers, why can't we see this in our business meetings? Isn't the business of the church just as important? Can we not see that the wrong decision or poor judgment could be just as fatal spiritually to someone or all of the congregation? Why do we want to give our opinions on spiritual matters when we do not have the qualifications to give such opinions. There is a reason behind the fact that an Elder cannot be a novice! (1 Tim. 3:6).
Today we are blessed with good brethren who have devoted their entire lives to the cause of Christ. Their spiritual knowledge would be equivalent to a master's degree in the secular world. Yet, there are some who would not think twice about slandering them just because they' speak up and stress their opinions. Are we that jealous of their spiritual wisdom that we revert to name calling?
It is my opinion that we should be thankful that we have those learned men who are willing to speak up. We should ask God to bless us with more qualified men who will continue to guide the church and teach the young (Titus 2:6) even if they are labeled as "Big Shots".
--320 Eloise,  Tallahassee, FL 32312
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[We say - "Shame on anyone who would be disrespectful to a faithful leader!" Elders who "rule well," laboring in the Word and doctrine, are worthy of "double honor" (1 Tim. 5:17). These devoted leaders who "feed the flock of God" should not be blasphemed while making honest decisions for the Lord people. They "watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief for that is unprofitable for you" (Heb. 13:17).
This is a very serious responsibility, with consequences now and in the Judgment day, for they must give account to God of every soul in their care. Such leaders are to be respected not simply because they lead, but because they lead unselfishly and wisely, showing themselves examples in life and work (1 Peter 5:3). Those who lead the Lord's people need to study diligently to find what they (themselves) need to do to please God. Paul taught, "But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another" (Gal. 6.4).
Please read 3 John. John wrote, "I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not" (v. 9). He was a man, in the early church, who was an egotistical dictator, who demanded his way over everyone. He used leverage and threats to gain what he wanted. He was "in charge" and not even the Apostle John escaped Diotrephes' vicious "pratting".
The expression "loves the preeminence" simply means that the man craved to be "first". He wanted to be "out front" recognized as "THE LEADER"— the one who must be heard and yielded to, his word was the final word in the congregation. He evidently disregarded what others could contribute in leadership. Others who would "receive the brethren" sent by the Apostle John were not allowed by Diotrephes. In order for there to be peace in that congregation everyone had to bow down to Diotrephes. But Christianity doesn't provide for personal disciples, so men have to resort to Satan's ways to get others to follow them, "speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).
Today, some brethren who refuse to edify the church are the most vocal in the business meetings. Others would stingily hoard "the Lord's money" and thus would have it burnt up when the Lord returns. Still others would spend it on the premises which will also be burnt up. The purpose of the contribution is to carry on God's work and service. But some seem to see it as the pooling of the funds of the members in the C. C.— "Country Club" activities. Some seem to feel that they're the big contributor in the congregation and should have "a controlling interest" in the business of the church. Wrong!
Instead of singing "standing on the promises of God," some should sing "standing on the premises." Don't you fear that pride is going to send many more church members to hell than any other one problem? Some want to be looked up to and are too proud to confess a sin. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" (Phil. 2:3). Each congregation should have leaders who are interested in what God says and not what others say.
We need men who don't just claim to have Bible knowledge but each one is able in "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, .... may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9). When a brother can do this all will know he is capable. Each congregation is to be autonomous (self-governing) with leaders who can make decisions based on the Scriptures and not what others are doing. May the Lord help us all to have good leaders]. — R . N .