“In essentials unity, in opinions liberty, and in all things love” Traditions are important. However, we must always guard against applying them in such a way as to lose sight of the loving intent of God’s law. Denominations all have different traditions: How someone is baptized, what day of the week they worship on, methods and frequency of taking communion, style of music, how to interpret the book of Revelation (the end times) and on and on. Traditions can even extend into our personal lives, whether drinking alcohol is forbidden or allowed, birth control, dancing, giving finances to the church, and on and on.
Mark 7:8-9 (TNIV)
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” 9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!
The essentials are simply things Christians must agree on, such as the Divinity of Jesus, the accuracy and authority of the Bible, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, etc. If we don’t agree on those then we’ve got big problems. But we should be as charitable as possible when disagreeing.
Many disagreements are born out of interpretations of Scripture. I believe that it is almost idolatry to claim that any one interpretation of God’s Word is as important as God’s word itself! We should always look to Jesus for guidance about our own behavior, and let Him lead us in the details of our lives.
In our church we believe, by our interpretation of Scripture, that baptism is by full immersion. To be a partner in our church we ask that you be fully immersed in baptism. Okay, here is my point: it’s okay to believe that. It’s okay to apply that to our congregation. IT IS NOT OKAY to tell anyone that their baptism by sprinkling “didn’t take” or that they are wrong! We must be able to agree to disagree.
Some believe that we should worship God on Saturday, not Sunday. While we follow a tradition in our church to worship on Sunday, we would never say that anyone is WRONG to worship on Saturday!
This is what the Pharisees did. They applied their traditions in such a way as to say that if you did not believe them you were simply wrong. They gave their traditions equal authority to God’s Word, the Bible.
The last twist is that Jesus also charged that they were doing this on purpose…..to win praise from the people for their displays of piety as they kept their rituals. We must always and continually search our heart.
While LifePoint Christian Church is a non-denominational church, we work with and respect other denominations and their traditions. We don’t have to agree with every detail of their traditions, that’s okay…these are not essentials. There is liberty. One thing that we do believe strongly…….we must apply God’s law with love.
The important thing is not to alter the message of the Gospel. When we are united on the essentials, Christianity is incredible. We all read the same book and serve the same God no matter where we are in the world. Some of my favorite worship experiences have been when I visited other services, full Gospel services, services in Korea and Germany, the desert and the jungle, services in homes, standing outside Grace and Grits with the homeless and just talking about our experiences with Jesus……. because the same Holy Spirit was present in radically different venues. “In essentials unity, in opinions liberty, and in all things love”