The concept is rather simple. Yet, it is annoyingly persistent. I am thinking about the process that a surprising number of people follow to determine how the church is correctly executed. There are many things about which we can disagree. Most of those different conclusions informing how a church should operate are focused on subjects and procedures about which there is only a limited amount of information, if any, in the Bible.
Diverse opinions are generally not connected to absolutes. “Thou shalt not murder,” rarely finds itself as the center of a dispute. The commandment, “Thou shalt have no other God’s before me,” is seldom ground zero in conflicts.
Where do we find most of the disagreements? In my experience, most of the differences and consequential condemnation of others flow from personal experience. The subject will be presented with a comment like, “Why don’t we do ABC?” It does not require a great deal of research to recognize that the standard promoted is patterned after the questioner’s personal experience. Don’t misunderstand me. Seeking to repeat something productive for a given individual or group in the past is worth exploring for the future. But, the fact that it worked in the past does not guarantee effectiveness in the future.
What puzzles me is how difficult it is to convince a person that a particular approach that worked in their past is not the eleventh commandment! The tradition heavy standards seem to attract harsh judgment toward those who do not see the exalted status of the promoted practice.
Jewish dietary laws were precise. Under Jesus’ application of the New Covenant, those laws were relaxed, which bothered some people. In so many words, The Apostle Paul said, “Figure out what you think God wants you to do and don’t judge those who differ.” In Romans 14:19, he highlighted the priorities, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (NIV)