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Introduction - Fellowship and Friction


THEME: To be pure does not mean not fellowshipping other Christians if not in total and complete agreement on the Christian ethic?

There is a broad and rich Christian ethic. That is, there is no such thing as a 1) universal and 2) detailed Christian standard. Within healthy fellowshipping communities there is a variety of prescriptions for how the Christian should live and be encouraged to live.

Bible believing Christians may inform ourselves through study and sincere and careful observation on "what the Bible says", but 2,000 years of Christian history with all its diversity demonstrates that exhaustively detailing "what the Bible means" in such a way it may be universally received among Bible believers without violating individual conscience is a task better left to One who knows what is within the hearts of men.

Christians, in good conscience, have done all sorts of things throughout history that were at the time in sincere harmony with their ethic as informed by the Holy Scriptures and causing offense to other Christians. The reality we live in is that "all things" are never truly equal and therefore seemingly similar or alike problems can be solved in more than one way by Christians. We must caution ourselves away from the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1) and before we presume unrighteousness in a brother, remember how difficult being right in an upside down world really is.

Consider with me a few of these paradoxes of conscience:

After careful prayer and bible study, "Christian A" decided to remove their children from the public school and homeschool their children. Compare that with "Christian B" who after much consideration as well decided to enroll their child in the local public high school.
There are Christian Vegetarians There are Christians that enjoy eating animal meat.
There are Christian Vegetarians There are Christians that enjoy eating animal meat.
There are Christians that wear jewelery of some kind in good conscience. There are Christians that cannot in good conscience so much as wear a watch or a wedding ring.

There are so many such paradoxes it would be impossible for me to detail them all, but also an exhaustive list is uncessary and not very useful as I've never met a Christian of any length of time that has not observed one or more of these themelves.

These paradoxes or maybe even contradictions among Believers is part of the human condition. We will wage a futile and not very fruitful conflict so long as the goal on this side of heaven is to universally eliminate all "christian" differences. I say it is part of the human condition because it is not a result of a lack of clarity in God's revelation, but God's revelation in His Word is fully informed on the complexity of the crown of God's creation — humans. The Bible is complex enough for all people of all time.

Do we surrender then? Do we resign to a conclusion that states, "Since there will be differences among Christians for as long as there are Christians on this earth, then unity and fellowship is impossible."?

I think not.

Here's what I think. Despite our differences, the Body of Christ is always a much more effective influence in the earth and a stronger institution within when the dominate theme is cooperation and a Christ-like attitude toward one another. fellowship is not an easy pursuit, but a worthwile one.

I begin here with the concern of fellowship though our theme is purity because our thoughts concerning fellowship will certainly frame how we talk about purity.

ON ONE SIDE, If I am content to walk alone and to leave others alone, then however I choose to explain to myself what God may require of me is burdened only with inward concerns and matters of personal conscience. Comedian George Carlin put it this way, "Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself." Many have taken this approach to varied success, but this writing will probably not be very relatable to you. To you friend I say sincerely, "Go with God".

ON THE OTHER SIDE, If I want to be part of the global Christian conversation and participate in such a way as to help steer Believers to the Glory of Christ then I am not content with walking alone, but will pursue means of unifying and edifying the Body. I do not believe that such fellowship requires "sameness" but it does requires an openness that despite our differences we can fellowship the truth we share in common. It also requires a vulnerability that Christ demonstrated (Matthew 9:10,11; 11:19) and servanthood that Paul taught (Galatians 6:1).

Matthew 11:19 — The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Galatians 6:1 — Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2Co 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

I invite you along side me in considering this rich and deep well of the Christian ethic and what it takes to be counted by God as being faithful to his call in Christian purity.