What I believe I value.
So, what do you believe? About God; Jesus Christ; Holy Spirit; The Bible; Human Beings; Salvation; Eternal Security; Eternity?
What do you value? In your life, as a Christian; one who belongs to Jesus Christ?
If we are to consider the statement “what we believe we value”, then we need to have a framework. Each of us come from different backgrounds – family, culture, even within the Church there is diversity on a number of issues.
1. So let’s establish that in essential beliefs we need to have unity. Ephesians 4:4-6 says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
2. In non-essential belies we have liberty. Romans: 14: 1, 4, 12, 22
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters (v1); Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand; So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God; So, whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.”
In Webster’s dictionary one definition of liberty: “…The state of a free person; exemption from subjection to the will of another claiming ownership of the person or services; freedom; -- opposed to slavery, serfdom, bondage, or subjection…”
3. In all our beliefs – show charity (love). 1 Corinthians 13:2 says, “…I may understand all the secret things of God and have all knowledge, and I may have faith so great I can move mountains. But even with all these things, if I do not have love, then I am nothing…”
Charity is defined in the Britannica Dictionary as “reciprocal love between God and man that is made manifest in the unselfish love of one’s fellow man. In Christian theology and ethics, charity (a translation of a Greek word – agape is most eloquently shown in the life, teachings and death of Jesus Christ…”
Unity: Have you ever sat in a meeting or group and seen the effects of opinions, egos and self-importance? What does this do to the meeting or group? People begin to fidget, most won’t make eye contact or speak whilst 1 or 2 hammers on about “stuff”. We start hearing about their “knowledge” of Scripture or what “God has said to them”, or “our denomination states this or that”, “we do it because that’s the way it’s always been done”, “we can’t do this or that because you might not be reverent enough”. I’ve sat in enough meetings both church and secular to hear all sorts of puffed up, self-important egos speak. What this does do is tear down, destroy, cause chaos and disunity. These words and the actions that manifest don’t edify, they don’t build up people.
The issues raised became less important than the egos that manifest in trying to get a certain point of view across. No liberty and no charity are shown or expressed.
I do think that most Christian’s really want to express God’s love to each other and those in the world; they just want to do it their way, not necessarily God’s way. I’m not pointing the finger; there are four pointing back at me.
So how do we live out our lives actively nurturing unity, demonstrating liberty and operating in charity (love)? We can’t do it. Plain and simple. We’ll fail. Only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in us can we live life in Christ.
Unity should be so very important to each Christian. Sometimes, it means saying a word of encouragement, sometimes it means taking a brother or sister aside and speaking to them about their behavior in a caring and positive way. Sometimes, it means we should literally close our mouths and say nothing. We are, each one, not just the Pastor or leadership of the Church, build up the fellowship. We are, each one, to actively participate in the life of the body of Christ to edify and encourage each other. It’s not one person’s role.
We can’t have unity if we don’t know what unites us. In the non-essential things, we should show liberty (freedom of personal choice – that which a person works out between God and themselves); in everything we should actively display charity (love).
The opposite of unity is dis-unity – chaos, strife, hurt, self-importance, self-opinion.
What unites us? Simply put – Jesus Christ. If we are honest with each other; most of us probably wouldn’t know about each other except for one common point – Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is why we are here. We really don’t have a reason to come out on a cold night to a church building otherwise. If you want to be in a club then you’d find one that suits your interests.
But church is not a club – it’s an organism. A living collection of beings (us) that come together with a common purpose (Jesus Christ) to live life together.
We’ll look at some essentials of what we believe over the next couple of weeks, but Jesus Christ is our impact point. He is why we are here.
Liberty – I said before that “…In Webster’s dictionary one definition of liberty: “…The state of a free person; exemption from subjection to the will of another claiming ownership of the person or services; freedom; -- opposed to slavery, serfdom, bondage, or subjection…”
Liberty is allowing a fellow Christian to have views different to ours. Examples: One person might like to eat pork, but other refuses to. One might like to drink a glass of wine with their meal, but another says we shouldn’t touch alcohol. These are just a couple examples of what I’ve heard and encountered over the years. If you choose to eat pork, that’s between you and God. In showing liberty and love, you may choose to not eat pork in front of the person who finds it distasteful. If someone chooses to drink a glass of wine with their meal, then you may do this in your home, but may choose to not partake of this when you invite those who don’t drink for a meal so that they are comfortable. I’m not saying its right nor wrong. I’m saying that you need to work such matters out between you and God. I’m not advocating drinking or eating in such a way that is bad for your health. However, showing liberty means we understand that we are diverse, coming from different backgrounds and cultures. These matters should not cause disunity and if they do then the church has matters which need to be addressed and the first matter is what do you believe?
If you value your moral stance higher than seeing people come to faith in Jesus Christ, then you might need to check what you value.
In everything show charity (love). Charity is an old-fashioned word. In our Western culture generally use “love” in a variety of contexts and thus lose the importance of the word. We ‘love’ our spouse (one kind of love); we ‘love’ going to the football, our vehicle or shopping, or getting together with friends; we ‘love’ God. Now we don’t generally love God the ways we love football? …Ok if you do, then work that one out with God…
So, we use one word in a variety of contexts. In showing Charity or love to a fellow Christian we are to display how Jesus Christ loves us. Compassion, forgiveness, edification, caring, truthfulness, willingness to bear one another’s burdens (i.e. the burdens we cannot bear alone, not the ones we are to shoulder ourselves).
As we look at the essentials we believe and value, this framework of unity, liberty and charity is important.