Sunday, December 30, 2012

“In Essentials, Unity; in Non-Essentials, Liberty; in all things Charity.”

There’s no such thing as a factory-made Christian. No assembly lines or quality checks.

Christians come in all shapes and sizes and wrappers. A Christian may wear makeup and another may not. Some Christians listen to country music, or even *gasp* "Christian" Rap. Other Christians listen to blue grass, classical, or hymns only. Some of our brothers and sisters, don't "do" the Facebook thing, and even have a hard time with text messaging. Some wear only skirts and others wear slacks or even (horror of horrors!) jeans to church. Some have tattoos and some don't. Christians go to college, and others may not. Some Christians celebrate Christmas and others don't. Some Christians drive cars, and some have beards, solemn clothing, and ride horses around. Christians may have worship bands in their church, or choirs, but some have neither one.
We are a diverse group. There is no formula in the Bible that tells us exactly how to dress, how to talk, how to act, what holidays to celebrate, what music to listen to, what kind of education to pursue, or whether or not to drive cars. There are hints and precepts but there is no checklist, no neon flashing signs.

We do have many things in common, we are Christians. We are God's people, His children, His chosen ones, His Bride. We all strive to honor God and do what we understand to be His will for us.
Certainly there are things that I believe, and hold to be right, and His will, but let's not quibble over little things; like if it is wrong to wear bright colored clothing, or if it is better to dance and clap your hands while you worship than it is to stand straight.

Yes, there is a time for serious discussions and times to look into and try to find exactly what God says in His word and what the right interpretation of that is - but when discussions turn into arguments, and efforts to explain your point of view turn into debates that each side is trying to win, then we are not honoring God. Even if we are discussing free will and the sovereignty of God, or the proper role of government, if it turns from honest seeking of God's will to a showdown to see who is the most devoted, the most intellectual, the most holy Christian, that is when we stop building up our houses and when we start tearing them down. We are blowing out our candle, we are contaminating our salt. Let’s not leave our time together with slanderous thoughts, and a haughty attitude. Let’s not wonder at how thick headed, that stubborn numbskull can be, and with that huge plank in our eye blocking our view, fail to see the sun go down on our indignation or our anger. This is ridiculous, this is pettiness.

“He that is void of wisdom despises his neighbor: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace.”       -Proverbs 11:12-

“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ has forgave you, so also do ye. And above all things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”  -Colossians 3:12-15-

The plain fact of the matter is life is not about us or our thoughts. It is about God. We are here to do His purpose, His will in our lives and we have no business meddling in others. His plan may be for us to help guide a fellow man but we are never told to meddle, start fights, or to be drippy faucets.
So let us praise God and do what comes to us. Let us make friends beyond our narrow circle of acceptable Christians, let us put off our ridiculous efforts to be the Bible Police and put on our smiles. Let the lights shine! We do not need to cast a certain effect or mood through our stained glasses of good standards, intelligent apologetics, or amiable lifestyles. We do not need to search for what kind of impression the colors are having on the room around us. The light shines brightest through clear glass; through joyful worship and simple obedience.

 Avoidance of arguments must not be misinterpreted as avoidance to all discussions between two people of the opposite persuasion. Two people can rationally discuss an issue without going into a tail spin of accusations, either spoken or unspoken, and insults. One’s discussion may end in a less than pleasant result, but one will have the assurance that it was not because of a lack of forbearance on their part.  We must stand for what it right, for what God says – even if it means being on bad terms with someone.
Avoidance of arguments must not be confused with avoidance of confrontations. When a brother sins against us we are told to confront him about it.

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell it between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained a brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee two or three more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church: but if he neglect to hear the church let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” –Matthew 18:15-17
Avoidance of arguments must not lead to the acceptance of erroneous doctrine. Do you remember the familiar story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den? Because Daniel prayed to God and not the king he was thrown in the den of lions. God delivered him by sending an angel to shut up the mouths of the starving beasts. What about Shadrach Meshach and Abed-nego? They refused to worship the golden image and as a consequence were thrown in the fiery furnace. God sent an angel and delivered them.

“I am Yahweh thy God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.  Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I Yahweh thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” -Exodus 20:2-3
Anything contrary to the Law and Word of God is erroneous doctrine. We must stand unified true to God’s Word.

Alow for differences in your Christian friends, but do not make allowences for sin.
“In Essentials, Unity; in Non-Essentials, Liberty; in all things Charity.”
-Augustine-    (1-17-13 I have since learned that he was not actually the one to say this but it was instead someone who lived in a date that had the number six in it but I can't remember the rest... so, hehe woops.)

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