I remember hearing a preacher make a pretty bold statement from the pulpit of his little, ultra-conservative church of Christ. He said that “We’re not saved by our doctrinal correctness. We’re saved by our faithful obedience to the message of the Cross of Jesus Christ!” There were many Amen’s declared, the loudest perhaps from me. But, after reflecting on the statement I began to wonder. To be honest, making such a bold statement may make people like me very happy; but, it also causes a lot of apprehension.

If we don’t have to arrive at the “right” conclusion on the peripheral religious issues in order to be right with God, does that mean that we no longer care whether or not there is a right or wrong answer to them? (Bring in the piano, let the women preach, strike up the band—this is a free-for-all). Of course not! We love truth and we are constantly seeking truth. That’s who we are; that’s what we’re about.

We simply must remember that the church of Christ is on a journey. Quite evidently the process of our journey is very important to God. (We tend to despise the journey and the process—we just want the bottom line and the end result. We want to go to heaven; everything else is irrelevant).

But the truth is we’re on a journey. And on that journey the scenery changes and our perspectives change. Today you may believe that having a kitchen in the church building interferes with our relationship with God. The rest of the community may strongly disagree with you but your conscience will not allow you to let go of your convictions. That puts us all in a terribly difficult position, doesn’t it?

How do we behave toward one another when we find ourselves in these difficult dilemmas? Does the majority simply ridicule the minority and run them off? Does the minority vehemently condemn the majority to an eternal hell and start yet another church in the area? Does the most sensitive conscience in the community manipulate everyone else into submission? Are we limited to the level of the most spiritually immature (i.e., weakest) person among us? (Careful, the Bible does say that the person who condemns what God allows is spiritually immature or weak. See 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 and Romans 14:1 – 15:13).

Tragically, after a split you may come to believe that whether or not the building has a kitchen is eternally irrelevant. Many times, however, the damage has already been done. For now, let’s let that be the point: this whole nonsense of fighting about and splitting churches over the peripheral issues is one of Satan’s most effective tools to divide and conquer God’s church. God, on the other hand, has given us clear instructions on how to handle these matters.

In this discussion, 1 Corinthians 8:1-13 and Romans 14:1 – 15:13 become two of the most powerful and helpful passages of Scripture in our Bibles.

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