Much is made in Scripture and throughout Church history about correct worship, teaching and how to live as a faithful follower of Christ. But what are those fundamentals that we can all agree on? Catholic or Protestant, there are a few “non-negiotables” that we, as the Church of God, need to adhere to. Not only for the prosperity of the Church, but for the success of our own lives in Christ. When we stray from these, when we fight over the details, we lose the opportunity to join God in His Work through the Great Commission.
Loren Cunnigham articulated this point to Dave Buehring during a plane fight in 1980. He said over the course of their conversation:
You know, Dave, it really isn’t important how big the organizations are that you will lead, or the size of the groups that you will teach. The way that God will measure the fruitfulness of your life is whether you have invested to the third and fourth generations.
Loren was talking about what Paul told Timothy in his 2nd letter to him. Paul instructed Timothy to be strong in grace and teach reliable people what he knew, so they could in turn teach others who would then teach others. Loren was encouraging Dave to not just make disciples, but make disciple-makers. God doesn’t care if we go to traditional or contemporary worship. He wants us focused on the things we know, versus the things we do not. (Psalm 131) When we spend too much time chasing ideas down rabbit holes, we lose our zeal for anything but proving our point.
How can we invest in ourselves and those around us, to carry the Gospel forward? We need to 1. know the basics of our faith and 2. avoid spending too much time arguing.
There are many great theologians who have written their opinions on what our true beliefs should be as Christians. While they contribute to our understanding, we can go straight to the source. Jesus made Himself clear on what was important to Him. And what is important to Christ, as the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), should be where we focus our thoughts, words and actions.
Jesus’ life here on Earth and after His Resurrection had significant themes we can latch on to:
- Reconcillaition to the Father, through Christ (John 14:6; John 17:3,7; Revelation 3:20)
- Forgivness of Sin (Luke 23:24; Luke 6:37-39)
- Growth in relationship with God (John 15:8)
- Unity through Self-Sacrifical Love (John 17:20; John 13:5; Matthew 16:24-26; Luke 10:37)
- Believing God’s Complete Word (John 8:31; Luke 4:4,8,12)
- Growing the Family of God, through Christ (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Teaching the Truth Jesus Proclaimed (John 21:15-16)
- Caring for the Lost and Hurting (Matthew 25:31-46)
We don’t have to wonder what our faith should look like or how Jesus would have us act. He gave clear direction to His Disciples and through His Words, directly to us. He used Peter, Paul, James, John, Luke, Matthew and Mark as the primary documentors of His life and we can trust their words were inspired directly from the mouth of God. We can’t pick and chose what is right, we must trust Jesus already did that.
If these aspects of faith are important to you, then you are focused on being a Disciple of Christ. You can invest in growing the Church around you through encouraging others to focus on these things as well – instead of getting caught up in the drama of life. The more we focus on what Jesus wanted, verses ourselves, the more we will please God. 2 Chronicles 16:9 says that The Lord is constantly on the look out for people who want to please Him. He rewards that faith and strengthens it, so you can strengthen others. It is about the process of growth through becoming free of the fear we don’t have all the answers. We have to focus on what we know. That is what they did after Jesus ascended and in the periods of tremendous Church growth – that is where the effort was.
Constantly reaching for the goal of being made like Christ means you might be a Christian!