I have a recently-found sister in the Lord. Her name is Laurie and she has a blog called Beauty from Ashes.
I can relate to the longing and prayer behind her recent post ‘Do you love God,‘ where she talks about the duty of loving one’s brother and sister in the church, and about how this is not easy. She conludes her post with the following committments.
“First, I will strive not to disrupt the unity of the individual church of which I am a member. This means that I will endeavor never to grumble to my leaders nor join with other members who might disparage them behind their backs (Heb. 13:17). I will submit to the elders in every decision until the day they deny the Gospel itself, which, Lord willing, shall never happen. In other words, I will not make my opinions the standard by which I evaluate my church.”
“Second, I will maintain contact with my Christian friends who do not attend my church….May I never be unconcerned with how God is moving in other parts of the body of Christ.”
“Third, I will seek to understand the nonessential doctrines found in other traditions in order that I might respect them and not dismiss them outright. If all believers did this, our thoughts and discussions would be more civil. We might even learn from each other and find a new consensus on issues that might promote visible unity.”
“My fourth commitment is to pray for peace and purity of the church. My heart is not yet as broken as it should be over the disunity of the church, and only the Holy Spirit can make me long truly and deeply for Christians to be one again. Without such longing, I will not be motivated to work for unity of the church.”
I would like to commit my heart to these things as well. May my heart and yours long for the love and unity in the church which will display the gospel of Christ to the world.
I would like to add some more to the list:
I will endevour to recognise the practices of my church that fall under the nonessentials category. So that we may not ever bind on others or teach as divine doctrine what is but the mere precept of man. I will try to distinguish between application/practice (that came from the minds of godly, albeit fallible, men) and the underlying Biblical doctrine (that came from the immutable word of God).
I will endevour to impress upon my forgetful and ungrateful heart the fact that I have been forgiven much (and continue to be forgiven much) and must therefore be gracious and patient with those who appear to me to lack in their understanding in some areas.
I will endevour to use terms like Calvinist, Arminian, Antinomian, Sabbatarian, Anti-sabbatarian, Hyper-calvinist, Dispensationalist, and Covenantalist only for purposes of understanding theological concepts but not to label or look down on any group consisting also of persons for whom the Lord Jesus shed His blood.
Boy, those are wonderful additions! Expect to find them as an addendum on my blog soon. I’d like to say, I wish I’d thought of the ones I posted myself, but (as I noted in my blog) those were from Ligonier’s Tabletalk Magazine.
The first of your additions was actually a topic for conversation this evening following my husband’s devotional at our prayer meeting. Several of us have come to understand that it is inappropriate for us to place regulations upon believers above and beyond what Scripture dictates. That is legalism. Beyond Scripture’s clear instruction, we need to respect the dictates of each person’s conscience as between himself and God.