I can’t think of any parent who doesn’t want to pass on to his/her children their “value system” or, in the case of Christian parents, their faith. There is nothing more important that I am trying to transmit both formally (as in during our nightly Bible study time) and informally (though example). Yesterday I got a note from my oldest son who was invited on a weekend trip that was described in such a way as to suggest there would be some drinking. He passed and I am proud of him for doing so.
But it has occurred to me lately that I haven’t done such a good job of passing on my core values to my blog audience. Sure, there are some heated topics where I weigh in decisively, but there are also others where I tend to take a middle ground position. Who is this guy and what does he stand for? Here are some answers…
Theology – I remember learning to type, and one of the sentences was “We must know and know that we know.” Doctrinal certainty can be risky unless we’re certain that some elements of the Christian faith belong to the realm of mystery.
God – A word that means so many different things to so many people. Better, initially anyway, to talk about Jesus. That tends to narrow things down to a single definition.
Ethics – We should attempt to aim for the very highest standard, and never do anything that could cause anyone else to stumble on our account. This includes business ethics, social ethics, sexual ethics, and any other adjective you want to add.
Salvation – Sinners prayer, no; a ‘before and after’ story, yes. There has to be a point where we know we passed from death into life, even if the date isn’t written somewhere in the front cover of a Bible. But as C. S. Lewis noted, it might not all happen in a single heartbeat; there are also ‘process’ conversions.
Family – In any given situation there can be good choices, but many things in life are a matter of good, better and best. To repeat, a good choice may not be a best choice. This kind of filtering is tested in the decisions we make about our families and within our family units.
Ministry – One does not have to choose vocational ministry to be in the ministry. Yes, God does call some to be ‘set apart’ for a career in Christian service, but to understand holiness is to know that everyone who desires to be a Christ-follower is called to be ‘set apart’ from the broader culture.
Church – Yes, I know this refers to people, but what about the Sunday thing and the building? For all its faults and failures, I think we’re better to go than not to go. We need that short retreat from the world which is too much with us the other 167 hours of the week; we need to pray and be prayed for; we need to worship corporately; we need people to do life with.
Denominations – Not necessarily that bad thing that some would potray. We see different schools of thought on things emerging even during the times of the original disciples. Christianity probably functions better in smaller faith families, and God probably knew this going in and built it into the design.
Mission – We’ve got the hottest news on the rack. Of course we’re going to share it. We need to take the Jesus story to everyone, and they will respond to it if we present it in its purity. When we mix it with western culture or denominational bias, it won’t work.
Charismatic Gifts – We should seek the giver and not the gifts. But I believe that God is continuing to give supernatural gifts to some people. Not necessarily the ones on television, though.
Tithing – Do your best, but don’t go into debt over tithing. God owns it all, so to set formulas and percentages seems to miss the point. See next entry.
Generosity – The hallmark of the church as described in the concluding verses of Acts 2 and Acts 4, and noted by early church historians. Very hard to do today in a western environment that practices cocooning, but very much at the heart of I Cor. 13.
Worship – In any demographically mixed group, worship should be blended; a mixture of various styles brought together in a seamless way so that no one style seems out of place. The reasons can be more theological than musical.
Prayer – Necessary to keeping the lines of communication open, and thereby keeping the relationship with God active. God delights even in our long laundry lists of requests because it means we’re talking.
The Bible – Not so much a collection of books as it is one continuous story. The more we read it that way the less of a ‘continuity problem’ we’ll have between the First Covenant and the New Covenant. And read it we should. And commit it to memory. And always be ready to share it.
Prophecy – Great for looking back, but things can get confusing if we try to use it to look ahead. The fulfillment of all things represents a point in what we call the ‘future’ where those of us who exist within the constraints of time are able to look at Him who exists out of time.
Heaven – A place we tell our kids is out there somewhere, and then writers like Randy Alcorn make us realize that New Earth is probably closer to what most of those scripture verses were referring to.
Faith – Not, as the visiting preacher illustrated, the belief a wooden chair can support you, but the belief that an old lawn chair with worn out webbing that’s in my garage can support you. It doesn’t look secure in the least, so will you trust yourself to it? Faith is the concreteness of things that don’t look so solid.
Discipleship – The ultimate commitment to lifelong learning. Just as living things grow, so also should Christ followers grow in both knowledge and the operation of grace.
…I could probably keep going, but that sums up a few important things. I hope now we know each other better!