In All Things Charity

I am amazed when I consider how some Christians handle conflict.

Some people seem content to throw the figurative grenade into the room, then pick up the pieces and see what’s left. No really, that’s pretty much a quote I was given as one person’s method of conflict resolution.

There are those who feel compelled to fire their Scripture-shotgun into the face of any opposition, no matter how tame. “I know what God says on this matter. I asked Him.” Or perhaps “I have a degree in Christian Ministry, so I don’t need your input on Christianity, kthxbai.”

Not exact quotes but close enough.

I attend a church whose stated vision is to “Saturate our city and our world with the heart of God.” My wife and I have been playing for the music ministry for about a year and a half now. When they announced a new members class, we realized “Oh hey, we should probably become members if we’re going to be up front leading worship.”

During the class, we covered the 16 tenets of faith held by the Assemblies of God (the denomination or association that this church belongs to). The pastor teaching the class made it clear that there’s a bit of room for disagreement, room for skepticism and other opinions. In making his point, he quoted an old phrase:

In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.

There are certainly some core beliefs that we as Christians have to agree upon. “I’m a Christian, but the Bible is rubbish.” Well, good luck with that. “I’m a Christian, but I’m not sure about this Jesus is the Son of God business… he was a nice teacher but he didn’t rise from the dead or anything…” Yeah, good job, welcome to heresy, your religion is pointless according to a relatively unknown Christian named Paul who wrote half the New Testament. We have to have unity in some essentials or else there’s no point in us gathering together.

Non-essentials, to me, are those things that aren’t going to seriously change my behavior. All the debate about speaking in tongues, or what sort of music is “right” for church, or whether there’s going to be a Rapture or will it be Post-Trib or Pre-Trib or so on… does any of that change how I pursue God in my personal life? Not that much. Even “Once saved Always saved” versus “We can lose salvation” is a silly debate to me, because our focus should never be looking backwards to see how close we can get to walking away from Christ without actually losing salvation. Our focus should be on following after Him. Looking backward to whether there’s a line, or at what point we cross that line–that’s a mistake. So in those non-essentials, when I disagree with a fellow believer, I get over it and do my best to get along with them in spite of our differences. There’s some liberty, some room for differing views.

Because in all things, we are called to practice charity. You are more important to me than your particular theological persuasion. When we discuss theology, my goal is not to crush your misguided view and show you how much more correct I am. My goal is to see another perspective on God, and refine my understanding to better match Truth. And I hope you get the same result out of the dialogue.

I don’t have a degree in Christian ministry. But I do have some guidance from that little known leader in the early church:

24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition… (2 Tim 2:24-25 NASB)

Scripture shotguns and Gospel grenades just don’t make a lot of sense to me. “In all things, charity.”

Not casualties.

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Vanity

For ‘T’ I wrote about theology as a tool to better understand God and our relationship to Him. For ‘U’ I wrote about unity and the need for us to look to others ahead of our own interests. For ‘V’ I will continue the “Jesus – Others – You” pattern of ‘JOY’ and talk about ourselves.

In other words, Vanity.

As worshipers – especially if we’re musicians and singers involved with church worship teams – vanity can be a spirit-killer. It disrupts teams, it affects our emotions and our concentration, it takes our focus off the God we’re there to worship. It’s a problem.

With all the emphasis on self-esteem over the last couple decades, it might sound like I’m saying having some pride in a job well done is a bad thing. That’s not the case. We want to do our best, to excel. But we want to do it with appropriate humility and confidence.

Confidence says I know I’m good.

Arrogance is when we know everyone else thinks we’re good.

False humility says, “I need attention, tell me how good I am.”

Worry has us wondering if our efforts are good enough.

Confidence allows us to play our best, together. Arrogance, worry and false humility focus on our performance and on us as individuals. And any kind of self-centered worship is absolutely wrong.

Vanity means we spend less time going vertical, looking up to God. And we spend little time going horizontal, reaching out to others.

At best we go through the motions, doing what looks good and seems right. But God checks the motives of the heart as well as the actions.

We must always remember why we’re up front leading worship, or why we’re serving others. It’s not about us; it has to be about Him.

A to Z Challenge

Happy April Fools’ Day!

The A to Z Blogging Challenge

The A to Z Blogging Challenge

As an April Fools’ joke, the Air Force is making me go back to work today.

As a non-April-Fools joke on myself, today is the start of the April A to Z blogging challenge!

I’m going to use this opportunity to talk about worship, and some key aspects for lead worshipers on an individual and corporate scale.

For the first entry, let’s talk about Attitude.

Paul writes:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5 NASB)

And take a look at what precedes Paul’s direction about attitude:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3, 4 NASB)

Worship, whether personal or corporate, is never for me nor about me. It has to be about others as I follow Christ’s sacrificial example.

We don’t sing to show off, or serve to get the praise of men. We can’t be about whatever blesses us, whatever satisfies us, unless we are blessed and fulfilled in meeting the needs of others.

Worship is about worth-ship. It’s an act that serves as a declaration of someone’s value. If that someone is us, then we’re not worshiping God or ministering to anyone. We’re making idols and worshiping Self.

That’s not worship. That’s pride.

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB)

When we seek our own interests, we risk not just missing God’s best but attracting God’s direct resistance. We want to chase the storm of God’s presence, not invite destruction!

But when we seek the interests of others, we step into the grace zone, where God’s power supplies us with the ability to do more than we expect or imagine.

The songs we sing, the music we play, and most of all, the acts of service we perform – those are done for God and for others. That has to be our attitude, or else we better not call it worship.

Got attitude? That’s fine, as long as it’s the right kind.