Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Essentials

In essentials, unity.
In non-essentials, liberty.
In all things, charity.

Last Sunday we attended a "discovery meeting" about the church we've found ourselves drawn towards, somewhat to our puzzlement (and my near dismay) . It was not quite the sort of meeting I'd expected; in fact, it covered a lot of ground and has given me much food for thought and study these past few days. The above quote was one of the things that we discussed.

In the membership class notebook we were given, the essential beliefs of this church were clearly spelled out, with Scripture references, under the following categories:
  1. About God
  2. About Jesus Christ
  3. About the Holy Spirit
  4. About the Bible
  5. About Human Beings
  6. About Salvation
  7. About Eternal Security
  8. About Eternity
I'm finding myself in agreement with the church statement on those essentials...well, except for the fact that I keep wanting to say, "But...but...but..." as in, But is that all there is? Surely there are more essentials than that?

Can it really be so simple?

The notebook then goes on to state seven practices of the church based on what the Bible teaches, and these cover things such as the practical implications of the Bible being our sole authority, the priesthood of the believer, baptism, evangelism, etc. I could quibble with a couple of these (what do I really think about the autonomy of the local church?) but these are not make-it or break-it issues for me.

So I'm wrestling with the whole issue of essentials. What are my essentials? The list that I had some years back was much longer than my list today. But even now I find myself wanting to add stuff, wanting to narrow my circle of fellowship, wanting to add more to the gospel, wanting to have "Christianity and ... "

But wait! There is nothing in those eight essentials about the role of women in the church! And what about the spiritual gifts? And what about proper worship within the Body? And what about the sacraments? And what about ... ?

I hold some of these things to be of far more importance than I suspect they really are. I am holding them tightly, even as God is gently prying my fist open. Could it be that I need to let go? Could it be that God is trying to get my focus off of the non-essentials and back on to what is truly important? Could it be that He want my focus, ultimately, to be on Him?

Is this what comes of no longer wanting to play church? Is this what comes out of brokenness? Is this where God is leading me? And, if so, why must I balk so?

[Edited for clarity and to correct typos that I refuse to accept could possibly be my fault.]

6 comments:

  1. I'd say an essential would be adherence to the Word of God.

    That said, we have our differences about what that Word says sometimes.

    Such as: baptism, female leadership in the church, appropriate activity during worship, church government, end times. . .

    So what to do? I guess find the church reasonable near you that sees things the same way you/your husband do.

    That would involve prioritizing. Which is hard.

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  2. You're right, Marie --- it's the prioritizing that is hard.

    In the New Testament, Paul recognized that there were disputable issues, even back then. It seems that, over the years, these have only multiplied.

    Is it really important that a church share my view of eschatology, especially when that has changed? Is my interpretation and application of Scripture the only correct one? Is it worth breaking fellowship over? What if God then changes my mind about some pet doctrine of mine? (He seems to delight in this, much to my chagrin.)

    How narrow do I draw the lines of fellowship? or how wide?

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  3. It's Not Rocket ScienceFriday, June 08, 2007 8:58:00 AM

    What will we do in heaven? How will we ever get along with all these differences? At the core we have to ask, "What does all this boil down to?

    < Marie said...I'd say an essential would be adherence to the Word of God.>

    What does that mean? Everything in that list of essentials are Biblical. So is your list...baptism, female leadership in the church, appropriate activity during worship, church government, end times. . .

    Yes we should baptize - have female leadership - appropriate worship (but who sets the standard of "appropriate" - the way i like it?)
    on and on.

    What's at the heart of the gospel - the entire Bible? Are any of these "essential"? Well God's Word. At the heart of the entire Bible is God wanting children - being lost then being found - salvation. Isn't that what Jesus came saying and doing? Bringing us back to the essentials?

    It is simple. God loves the world and wants everyone to be in his family. Baptism is a sign of that salvation - leadership (men and women) helps that salvation happen - salvation is founded on the word of God - worship is celebrating that salvation ... being found - loved - loving God back with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And the end times? Is when the salvation door will be closed for ever. Imagine how hard it was for Noah to close that door.

    Salvation - reaching the lost whom Jesus died for is universal and should be the heartbeat of ever church...it was Jesus heart beat. It's what and why we are here. Not to argue about the right the right or wrong way of baptism, female leadership in the church, appropriate activity during worship, church government, end times.

    While we selfishly argue the world slowly and quietly goes to hell - the very ones Jesus died to save. The essentials boils down to 2 things ... Loving God and Loving people. And most churches have lost the essential for the argument and selfishly having or wanting a Burger King Church ... "My Way".

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  4. INRS, it seems almost that the ideal church in your mind has no doctrine.

    If church is just a place where people love people, and are so in some way inspired to love God, I am not sure anyone gets saved - which I think you and I would both very much like to see.

    "Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of my Heavenly Father. . ."

    Can we know His will? It seems you are resigned to the idea that we just can't. We have a whole Bible to reference, and I say we can.

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  5. So, would the typos be Mike's fault?

    Thank you for these posts, they encourage me to really think about what God calls us to do.

    Connie

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  6. << So, would the typos be Mike's fault? >>

    Connie

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    Hey! Wait a minute! Looks like I've painted myself into a logical corner this time.

    Sheesh on jelly with toast!

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