Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Watered down Christianity

God forbid that we ever water down our faith. Unfortunately, though, sometimes we have an inverted idea of what it means to do that.

You see, when you water a mixture down, you decrease its strength. You add things to the mix that make it less effective at doing what the full-strength solution was intended to accomplish. This is precisely what we do when we take the opinions and deductions of men and stir them in with the requirements of the pure and simple gospel of Jesus Christ.

The simple gospel message preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was sufficient to save the souls of thousands that day. Nothing has been added to that saving message since then. All of the inspired writings to those who had already been brought into the faith were written for the purpose of encouraging them to stay true to the original, undiluted message of Jesus Christ.

Too often, we think that watering down Christianity means relinquishing an opinion, or caving in to the people, ideas, and factions we've opposed for so long. First, this just isn't true. We can hold the very same opinions on how we believe churches ought to function without setting those opinions and deductions as the standard by which we determine who our brother is and if we should associate with him. Second, it is a sad state of Christendom to see opinions reinforced and walls fortified for the high goal of opposing our brothers.

We were never meant to divide over differing understandings about what we believe to be true. I believe it is true that the New Testament scriptures have no record of a church-owned building, but that is not a truth to either unite or divide over. It is also true that the scriptures do not give Christ's called out a name, but that also is not something to unite or divide over. We are to unite in our common obedience to the good news. That is the Great Mystery that Paul writes about. It is that Jews and Gentiles from all walks of life are brought together as joint citizens in the commonwealth of Israel, members of one body, not one faction.

We can't try to slip our own opinions in with the good news of Jesus Christ and expect that message to be an effective one. Peter didn't give a doctrinal position statement for new believers to sign when he preached the gospel. He simply preached the gospel. Those who responded to it became citizens, those who rejected it did not.

If we will make it our goal to preach that very same gospel without demanding that others subscribe to our own fallible opinions, our faith will become the most powerful force for personal reform and evangelism in our lives that we've ever known. That is not watered down Truth. That is distilled Truth.

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