The Gospel and Conscience in the Local Church: Solution TwoWednesday, July 26, 2006
The second solution to the difficulty of personal issues of conscience in the local church is this:
2. Realize your fences aren't mandatory for everyone else.
By fences here I mean to refer to those principles and lifestyle choices we feel we must make in order to follow Christ in our own lives and in our family life. Those fences are not only fine, but they are necessary. Christians are different. There are also groups of Christians that think alike, have the same issues, are wired in their personalities similarly, etc.
But the local church is a place filled with different groups. What tends to happen too often is that "groupies" cling together. They find each other, find that they share the same tendencies, personalities, vision, dreams, burdens, likes and dislikes, etc. and in a matter of time they form a group very distinct from other groups and persons in the local church. And over time, the group's distinctiveness begins to mold and rot from inbreeding. The way they look at life and Christianity begins to stagnate as they begin thinking and living without the other believers God has put around them in the local church. Their fences for living, for family life, for following Christ become armed with barbed wire, keeping others at a distance, and eventually distancing themselves from everyone else. If I've just described how your church was planted or how your church split occurred, this is usually why and you're not alone.
But if in pursuing the first solution I pointed out yesterday you find the need to build fences to help you follow Christ and pursue the gospel, remember those fences are for you and your family and not for others. If others happen to see your fences and determine that part or all of your fence would work for them, praise God and don't praise your fence.
But when we proclaim our fences to others we aren't proclaiming the gospel. And what is just as bad is when we proclaim our fences as inseparable and necessary connections to the gospel, we actually dilute, adulterate, and obfuscate the gospel which is the same as not proclaming it at all.
So keep your fences to yourself. Preach Christ and not your fences. And fight with all your might to keep away from grouping with others who have the same fences or else you'll end up living in a compound! And fight with all your might to keep the barbed wire off your fence. You're fighting a mutual enemy and not each other.