One of the glorious facts about living in God’s world is that He likes it messy. He likes it complicated, complex, and hard to understand. God thinks that’s a good idea. And we know this because He invented the Church. Knowing how different we all are, knowing how weird we all are, and knowing that we are sinners and fools on top of that, He called us all together into the body of Christ. And He thought that was a good idea. But how do we begin to live faithfully in such challenging circumstances?
Loyalty & Thankfulness
First, you must know what kind of weirdo you are. What kind of weirdos do you come from? The difference between pride and double-mindedness is thankfulness. Pride and arrogance pretends to be a self-made god. The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. He is so humble it comes out the other side with a strange self-abasing pride. And this is why the difference is thankfulness. Thankfulness receives gifts without losing sight of the Giver. But thankfulness also instills loyalty. Friends and family give gifts. Pride (of both variations) can produce rivalry and envy, but thankfulness and love pours out. But thankfulness also protects the gifts and the relationship with the Giver. That thankfulness which protects is called loyalty, and it should be fierce. So who are you? What are the great gifts that God has poured on your head, through your family, your church family, your friends, your people?
What Kind of Weirdo Are You?
God pours out gifts, but He also (wisely) gives us challenges to overcome, battles to fight. Pride either ignores the challenges or pride allows challenges to swallow up the gifts. But thankfulness receives them all in faith and confidence. Augustine is remembered as saying, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” What are the essentials? Those doctrines and practices which are either explicitly required by Scripture or so implicitly required that without them, the Scriptures would be broken: The Trinity, Incarnation, Substitutionary Atonement, Authority of Scripture, Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, etc. What are non-essentials? Those doctrines and practices that are not explicitly required or forbidden in Scripture and which do not undermine those things which are essentials: Exact forms of worship, methods of evangelism, church polity, and country western music. And of course the messiest situations come when there is disagreement over whether something is “essential” or not. But we walk by faith, love the brothers, search the Scriptures, and look to Christ.
Tradition and Progress
Every generation faces the dual responsibility of honoring their parents and guarding the deposit handed down from them and the duty of obedience and growing in understanding and faithfulness. What is frequently missed is the fact the two are actually connected. The way to have a long life of blessing in the land is through honoring parents. This is the long, patient way of progress, but it’s also the successful way. Thankfulness for what has been given is the ground upon which you will be called to stand and begin building the next phase of the project. But without that scaffold, you will end up taking out a supporting wall that your dad built.
But What About Those Guys?
And if cross-generational relationships were not hard enough, we still have all of our peers both near and far who are different and weird. What about pastors who don’t wear clerical collars? What about guys who get tattoos? What about Baptists who don’t baptize babies? What about that girl with a nose stud? What about Presbyterians who won’t allow young children to partake of the Lord’s Supper? What about “passing the peace”? What about the sign of the cross? What about those guys with a rock band leading worship? What about those guys? Well, the answers to those questions will vary. This doesn’t mean that the answers don’t matter or that it’s all relative. But the way to the answer is found through the path of thankfulness. What kind of weirdo are you? What kind of weirdo is your dad? What are the gifts you have been given?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Living in community means that other families are necessarily different than yours. And God thinks that’s a good idea. He likes us being different from each other. But He wants us to love one another and honor one another. This can only happen through deep and abiding thankfulness, and this is thankfulness that destroys self-aggrandizing pride and self-deprecating pride. Thankfulness sees gifts, challenges, and the Good Giver and cheerfully gets to work.