“Standing Knockout – How we got our Bell Rung” – This is the title of the second chapter of Mark Driscoll’s book, “A Call to Resurgence – will Christianity have a funeral or a future?”. Driscoll contends that though Christendom may be dead in our post-Christian culture, Jesus is still alive and is still working. The problem is that the church continues to gather exclusively into our insular tribes, and treat each other with indifference or even opposition. In Resurgence, Driscoll helps us think through our “tribal” distinctions, which include:
- Reformed vs. Arminian (views on God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility)
- Complimentarian vs. Egalitarian (views on gender and leadership)
- Continuationist vs. Cessationist (views on the manifestation of the Holy Spirit)
- Missional vs. Fundamentalist (views on scope and reach of the Gospel)
This morning, my pastor preached on the distinctions from another perspective: (1) Preferences, (2) Biblical Convictions and, (3) Non-Negotiables. From the above, Reformed vs. Arminian, etc. reflects biblical convictions. Worship in music will generally reflect preferences. The truths of creation, fall, redemption, church and heaven are reflected in the non-negotiables.
My church has “Baptist” in its name. My pastor noted today that historically, the danger of the Baptist church is to expand the non-negotiables to include biblical convictions and even preferences. This is called legalism. It often emphasizes truth over love, undermines the gospel of grace, and perpetuates disunity in body of Christ.
My church is white, suburban, and conservative. In content, we proclaim the same Gospel as the black, urban and (politically) liberal church – the non-negotiables. In scope, however, our emphasize is typically different. We also differ in some preferences and biblical convictions.
If you are like me, ministering together in the face of these differences is like swimming in Lake Michigan before August 15th – it is uncomfortable, and even shocking to the system at first. But soon it becomes refreshing, and then quite comfortable – much more so than the not beach that drove me to the lake in the first place. Unity is hard at first, but very rewarding in the long run.
Drawing again from Dr. Evans address to us last Fall (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1K-x8aP1OQ ), if the many disparate stones are to become the rock, the Church must unite. We can disagree on the lesser of these things as noted – and still serve God together as One Church. Dr. Evans suggests that, otherwise, we many not really be the Church. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to watch this YouTube video.
Prayer remains the key to unity in the body of Christ. It is otherwise impossible. So please continue to pray for the Church – just as Jesus prayed (John 17) that we would be come one – in complete unity. It is then that we can more effectively be that which Jesus called us:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” Luke 4: 18-19.