These days there seems to be so many things that divide us. Everywhere we look, in politics or pop culture opinions are loud and polarizing.
Often times even if you want to hang out somewhere in the middle you can feel pushed by the overwhelming tide of public opinion one way or another. You look around and if feels as if everyone is all running in a crazy pack toward something or maybe away from something, kinda like the running of the bulls in Spain. The running of the bulls is clearly a stupid and dangerous activity but people still get caught up in it.
That is the way public opinion seems to go these days.
If we are not careful that mode of operating and relating creeps its way into the church. Instead a talking about things as brothers and sisters in Christ we have “sides” on issues. Often these sides don’t allow us to be friends because they pit us against each other.
What are the most basic things as believers we need to find common ground on?
“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” -St. Augustine.
This famous quote is a good framework for going forward but it is just a framework. We still need to understand what the essentials and non-essentials are. These will be answered differently by different people.
Here are some of the most important ones as I see it.
- The Bible is the living word of God, given to men write down under the inspiration of the God. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)
- There is one triune God. One God, Father, Spirit, Son. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19)
- Man is created in the image of God. He was created sinless but chose to sin in the garden of Eden. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
- Jesus died for all of our sins on the cross. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53:5)
- We are saved through his grace. We cannot earn it. Only accept it. “For by grace you have been saved…” (Eph. 2:8)
- There will be a judgement day. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10)
- Heaven is real place where we will someday be with Jesus. “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (Jn. 14:2)
- Hell is real place where those who do not know Jesus will someday go after judgement. “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:10,15)
- We show we have chosen a new life of following Jesus by obedience in water baptism. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 28:19) (Also, Acts 2:37,38; Gal. 3:27,28)
- Jesus ascended to heaven after he rose from the dead. After 40 days he sent us a helper, the Holy Spirit. “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever–the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (Jn.14:16,17)
- We are meant to be disciples of Jesus who bear fruit on the earth. Fruit of the Spirit. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.” (Jn. 15:8)
- Jesus is coming back again for those who have accepted his gift of salvation. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:16,17)
What do you think? Were there some in there you haven’t thought about in a while? Never thought about? Do you think I missed one? I probably did.
There is so much in the word of God and we are such different people who follow Jesus. We see different things as important. I think if we can show respect and dare I say love to each other as we follow Christ we can try to understand what are essentials and non-essentials. Always keeping in mind that God’s word is true and we are so blessed to have it.