Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Disagreeing Biblically

We have read Why Church Buildings Matter, by Tim Cool. We have even brought him in as a consultant. This blog does such a good job of concisely explaining the importance of having strong convictions but understanding that those "3rd tier" issues that fall into "personal convictions" should not be a reason to divide under any circumstance.   Hope you enjoy.



argue between two businessman
If you have been on this earth for any length of time, you have…or will…find yourself in a situation where someone has an opinion about a topic that is diametrically different than yours.  It may be a moral or legal issue…and those tend to be a little bit more black and white and the “correct” answer is usually obvious.
But what about the areas that are not so cut and dry? What about those issues that are left to a person’s own interpretation based on their personal preferences, background and paradigm? What about those items that really have no wrong answer and yet you find yourself an opposite ends of the equation with another person who is equally as passionate about the matter…yet views the item through a different lens ?
Our (or maybe I should just say “my”) tendency is to bow up and dig our heels in.  We quickly develop rationale to make our point and to possibly discredit the other opinion.  We will then seek to rally support for our stance from those that are either part of our tribe or that we know will support our conviction.
After living in a pastor’s home and then serving the church world for almost my entire life, I have seen this far too often in the church. Some of the most divisive I have been witness to have been:
  • Should we allow people to eat in the basement of the church?  
  • Should we build or not?
  • Should we relocate?
  • Do we add modern music to our worship?
  • Should the choir still wear robes?
  • Is it acceptable to preach from a translation other than the King James?
  • Is it wrong to smoke, drink or chew…or date girls who do? (could not resist)
As I look at that list…all I see are personal preferences and convictions. I am convinced that we could find some scripture somewhere to justify either side of these arguments. We could pontificate for hours on the righteousness of either side.  And yet, in the scope of eternity, does it really matter.  The key for me, is which side furthers the Kingdom of God and serves that local church…the body of believers…the best as they fulfill the vision they believe God has called them to.  THAT…is the real issue. On most of these types of issues, I am not even sure God would have a preference…and I am convinced he would not waste a breathe dealing with such.
I was recently reading a passage written by John Maxwell were he references Romans 14and how Paul addressed this exact thing with the Church in Rome. In this chapter, Paul speaks  not of eternal issues or absolute truths, but about “gray areas”—subjects that are questionable and maybe even fuzzy similar to the list above. Christians can differ on these issues and still be part of the same organization. On these issues, no scripture declares an unequivocal right or wrong.
Mr. Maxwell went on to provide a list of ways that Paul gave as a guide from which to address these issues:
  1. Be open, not condescending (vv. 1–3).
  2. Remember that everyone answers to the Lord, not to you (v. 4).
  3. Cling to your own convictions (v. 5).
  4. Whatever your values, your motive should be to please God (vv. 6–9).
  5. You are ultimately accountable to the Lord (vv. 10–12).
  6. Do not cause anyone to stumble (v. 13).
  7. Don’t let others impose their values on you, and vice versa (v. 14).
  8. Make love your highest aim (v. 15).
  9. Major on the majors and minor on the minors (vv. 16–18).
  10. Pursue peace and adding value to people (v. 19).
  11. Don’t destroy anyone by imposing your values on them (vv. 20–22).
  12. Anything is wrong that is not done out of personal faith (v. 23).
Good stuff…I have a long way to go!