In essentials unity,German Lutheran theologian, Rupertus Meldenius
in non-essentials liberty,
in all things charity.“
It’s one thing to acknowledge and even agree with this quote. It’s another thing altogether to live it out. I started exploring the quote in my last post, asking if I knew for certain what essential beliefs bind us together as the family of God. The idea is that everything outside those essential beliefs would be seen as non-essential. In those non-essential areas, I would choose to extend liberty— the freedom to think differently than I think.
That leaves space for me to passionately hold to my preferences, without losing sight of my Christian siblings’ freedom to do the same. If I’m going to do that with integrity, it can’t be predicated on whether or not my brothers or sisters extend that same liberty to me. I have to do it because I know it’s the right course of action – period.
Further, humility must blanket the act of granting liberty. There can be no air of superiority. There must never be an attitude where I imply, “Go ahead with your inferior, wrong view. You have the liberty to be wrong! I’ll be here when you come ‘round to the truth.” Kindness and tenderness must lead the way as I seek to hold the tensions inherent in relationships with differing points of view.
In marriage, I reserve space for non-essential differences of opinion. I understand that my husband and I are going to have them, and choose to hold to the bonds of unity in love within our covenant relationship. Imagine Christ, our Bridegroom, responding to our differing points of view with hate-speech, or even lording our inferior opinions over us. Such would never be the case, even though He would be in the right.
We are flawed creatures in relationship with other flawed creatures. Each of us are maturing at the pace set for us by the Holy Spirit. We are too often missing the forest for the trees by elevating rightness over relationship. Should we be passionate about the things we believe the Lord has directed us to be passionate about? Without hesitation! But our hearts must remain tender toward those in the family of God who do not agree with our perspective.
One day we will relearn the art of loving-communication. When we do we will enter into conversations, eager to tap into the heart of the other. Together we will go to the One who knows everything about everything. We’ll seek Him side by side with our differing opinions out in the open. We will remember how little we understand, even in our areas of expertise, and that will keep us teachable and contrite.
We will begin to champion each other again, and being right will no longer be of primary concern. Loving one another as Christ loves us will retake center stage. We’ll find ourselves having created an environment where granting liberty in non-essentials is normal. And then watch out! We just might find ourselves overrun with people wanting to join our ranks.
Love one another fervently
with a pure heart.
1 Peter 1:22