How important are issues in the church? Throughout our religious history certain teachings have tended to define and have developed into central themes of our faith. So, here is the question for the day: “How important are the issues that seem to be important to us?”. Before we go any further, I would like to offer the following disclaimer – I do not have an agenda, nor am I on a mission to joust at any windmill. I present this discussion to help us focus on what we have allowed to define us. I am comfortable with our fellowship, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t step back and take a look at what we believe and why we believe it.
As I thought about our beliefs I got to wondering how we got to where we are and if all points are equal – not to us, but to God. We have developed a comfortable formula for determining our worship and defining spirituality, but is He as comfortable with it as are we? When we assess what we do, here are a couple questions to ask ourselves:
1. Is our practice based upon commandment, example, necessary inference or preference? We all like what we like; but how important is it to God? As we assess the necessity of something we might want to refer to the context in which it was issued. For example, Jesus’ saying, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34) should receive more weight than someone else’s opinion of what is important. Sure, we can use reason to develop a plan, but we must always ask is, “Does the Bible provide direct instruction on the topic?”
2. Is the issue a matter of convenience or does it have an eternal consequence? It appears that we have some latitude in developing procedures for how we go about doing things, but there are some principles that must never be compromised. Take for example, Peter’s observation, “... baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ ...” (I Peter 3:21). The focus appears to be on what needs to be done, not where it needs to be done. We can baptize in a pool in the front of the building or we can do it in the Chesapeake Bay. It may be cool to be immersed at Point Lookout State Park (literally and figuratively), but the point of salvation is obeying the command with a correct heart.
We don’t have enough room to detail all the questions that should be asked as we assess our teachings, but let’s make it a point to give due diligence as we define what we believe to be godly religion. Not only are other’s souls impacted by our teaching, so are ours.