Choosing Our Battles
We Christians are easily sidetracked. Any pet doctrine can become the focal point of our lives and take our eyes off what’s really important. We all know we’re supposed to spread the gospel everywhere, to live to please God, but we get wrapped up in any number of side issues which frequently turn out to only be divisive. So we need to have some questions to ask ourselves as a kind of checkup.
- Does this issue affect the gospel message?
- Does it motivate me to be more Christlike?
- Does it affect the way I interact with others?
- Does it drive people away from God? (beyond the inherent offense of the Cross)
- Does it deepen my understanding of the scriptures?
- Does it cause me to break fellowship with other believers?
Now I’ve heard many charges against various views, such that one group calls another group’s view dangerous or compromising with evil. But in most cases the charges turn out to be false or exaggerated. For example, eternal security is said to give people a “license to sin”, yet there is no discernible difference between how people who take that view live and those who don’t. Both groups wind up sinning and repenting; the only difference is whether they were theoretically lost and resaved, or in and out of fellowship. Or Calvinism: as long as we all spread the gospel to all, and observing that neither Calvinists nor non-Calvinists live demonstrably better lives as a result of their views, what’s all the flaming about? (Of course, this teaching has been known to drive people from the gospel, but in most cases Calvinists never tell anyone about their views until a person is saved.)
There is value in debate; don’t get me wrong. It can drive us deeper into the scriptures and make us re-examine some beliefs that may not be accurate. But such debates should never consume us or define us. It is surely a sign of spiritual immaturity to divide over many of the issues we think are so vital. Whatever else we do, we must keep our focus on the Prize.