Paul addresses a similar issue in Romans 15:1.
“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”
Between my sophomore and junior year in college I took some time off to travel with a musical ministry team. The team was made up of twelve men all around the same age and mostly Type-A personalities. Half way through the year we were really struggling with respecting each other and our director had to confront us and challenge us to consider our brothers and die to self. The ensuing response was not good. The phrase ‘die to self’ was terribly abused as we used it only when it was advantageous for ourselves. If someone had just grabbed the last cookie we would quickly pounce on him and tell him to ‘die to self.’ needles to say, the phrase was banned and anyone who used it would be punished. While most of us who were using it were joking, we illustrated a much more real and serious problem.
Whatever the phrase is, ‘be the bigger person’ or ‘die to self,’ whenever we find ourselves telling someone to respect our wishes we are in affect doing the opposite of what Paul is teaching. While it seems right that we who are mature should have high expectations of the weaker brothers, it wouldn’t be natural to force them to concede to our point if they haven’t become fully convinced.
The problem arises when a conservative church, primarily comprised of an older generation, structures the service in a manner that appeals to their affinities while neglecting to consider the interests of the younger generation. Likewise, the younger generation breaks ties with their predecessors without much regard for the wisdom and experience they have to offer. Neither side, as a generalization, feels comfortable in the other’s worship paradigm. Therefore, neither are proving their maturity by dealing with the others ‘scruples.’ Who should be expected to concede. I wish I could convince the older brothers to deal with the complexities of the next generation so that they could offer discernment and direction as the next generation prepares to take over the church they are being entrusted with.
If we really want to ensure an impact on the next generation and guide them to honor God in all of their ventures, we’re going to have to find a way to infiltrate and influence them toward godliness that is closer to the language they are most familiar with. That won’t happen if we simply raise up our own preferences and require the people we’re trying to influence to fit within our paradigm and identity.
Let us resolve to be ‘the bigger person’ and ‘die to self’ as we willingly sacrifice our comforts to see the glory of Christ magnified through the lives others.
“Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.” Philippians 3:15