Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is your "hot button" an essential or a non-essential?

There is a phrase that is commonly attributed to Augustine that goes like this:  In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity (love).  I wish this simple little statement would be put into practice for all Christ followers.

Rick Warren pastor of Saddleback church and author of The Purpose Drive Life states it a little differently.  He says that every church needs to identify its absolutes, convictions, and preferences.

Absolutes (essentials) are those things that we will die for no matter the cost such as, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus, the trinity and the inspiration of Scripture.

Convictions are those things that devoted followers have disagreed on for 2,000 years: When does the rapture occur (pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, post tribulation or pre-wrath)?  Is speaking in tongues necessary in todays’ church, or Calvinism vs. Arminianism?  Honestly, at First Free we have people in all the aforementioned.  Here is where we must be advocates for liberty.

Preferences: style of music, what clothes to wear to church, lighting (bright or darker), can I have a glass of wine at dinner or not, loudness of music, colors, symbols, cross, communion table, podium or pulpit, candles, etc.

Here is my observation of what happens in most churches.  Somebody want to make essentials – non-essentials, and non-essentials, essentials.

Then, we want to fight about it.  I have never had anybody in my 38 years of ministry fight with me over the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement or the trinity.  But I have had more that I can count of people picking a fight with me over musical style, colors, and loudness of music, lighting, pulpits, dress and other preferences.

I am reminding all of us there is an absolute (essential) bucket we must submit to and make our guiding compass.  At the same time our personal life choices and desires should not be made into the guiding compass which often is the case.

Love in all things strengthens the church.  No matter what we may believe, there is no excuse for lovelessness toward one another.

Have you identified the essentials? The non-essentials? “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”


P.S. How can I have influence in my job (assignment) when I am not the CEO?  How do you lead from the middle?  Don’t miss the answer to these questions this Sunday at 9:45 or 11:00.  Bring a friend and join us.

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