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making the connection | July 9, 2017

July 6, 2017

Think about how different churches are from each other. Some celebrate communion every week, some maybe once a month. Some use wine, others juice. They perform baptisms differently. Some sprinkle, others dunk. And they may or may not baptize infants. Churches can be particular about what translation of the Bible they do or do not use: King James, NIV, ESV, The Message, etc. Music styles differ between churches as well. Some prefer electric guitars, drums, and modern songs, while others prefer pipe organs, choirs, and hymns.

These differences shouldn’t really be a problem, but far too often we get hung up on them. We care more about the things that can divide us rather than what unifies us. And, unfortunately, we’re good at tearing other Christians and churches apart because of these differences. You probably don’t have to think too hard to remember negative things you’ve heard Christians say about churches or other Christians.

But what do you think could happen if we stopped focusing on the differences between our preferences and just focused on the essentials? Maybe the rest would sort of follow along and sort itself out. Wouldn’t that be refreshing? In order for that to happen we need to know what’s essential, what our main thing needs to be. Paul points us to the answer in his letter to the Ephesians:

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… So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:4-5, 11-16, NIV)

There’s a great phrase that speaks to Paul’s point: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity. Let’s relax a bit on the non-essentials. And let’s focus on the essentials: in Christ we are one body. And He is building us up “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Sarah Neel

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