In the previous three postings (What is Reform?; Liberty, Conscience, and God’s Word; and Here I Stand?) I have highlighted three phrases often quoted out of context, and attempted to put them into context. In all three, the missing context illustrates the Reformers’ reliance upon the Word of God for their illumination.
As Reformed Christians, the Word of God must be our first and last stop when dealing with issues that confront us. With the Word of God we can act as a beacon of hope for the world and allow ourselves to be reformed according to the Word of God. Without God’s Word we allow ourselves to be molded by the values of the world, and too often these are in conflict with that the Lord expects us to do.
So with all the issues confronting the Presbyterian Church today, and all the different ways we approach and understand Scripture, how can we survive as a denomination? Here a few suggestions:
- Study the Bible, preferably in a group where you can trade insights and gain the benefit of different points of view. Seek ways in which we can apply these insights to problems we face as individuals and as a denomination.
- Avoid drawing “lines in the sand”. These do little to build fellowship, and make it difficult to have meaningful dialogue. Use “Here I stand, I can do no other!” sparingly, if at all, and remember what Luther said before that.
- Realize that there is far more that unites us than divides us. Spend more time in fellowship and less time in trying to convert others to your particular point of view. A good place to start is what all members have in common – faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
- When it comes to essentials, Unity; to non-essentials, Tolerance; and in everything, Love. (I have heard this often, but I have no idea who said it)