One of my best friends and I agree we’re going to work out together at the gym. We get all excited about the possibilities related to this new strategic partnership. First, we’ll be able to hang out together on a consistent basis. We are both married with kids so it is increasingly more difficult to have consistent “guy time.”
Second, since we are both believers in Jesus we will be able to sharpen each other spiritually as we talk about the Lord in between reps. We will also have opportunities to minister together as we are able to share the hope within us to the other gym rats.
Third, our wives will give us that look as we turn into lean mean fighting machines. Enough said on that point.
Fourth, our children will be happier as we have more energy for them. Our energetic healthy bodies will engage our kids instead of handing them an iPad and sending them away.
I could go on and on dreaming up all the benefits resulting from me and my buddy working out together. But this is just an illustration so let’s not get carried away. So my buddy and I now start talking about the details of our workouts. We’ll definitely hit the weights. Bench Press. Lat Pulldowns. Curls. Yes, we are both getting excited. We both enjoy running so we’ll spend some time every week doing laps on the indoor track. That’ll be great.
Then my buddy opens his mouth and says the worst thing, “Oh, I love swimming. We gotta spend some time busting out laps at the pool.” Dang. He had no idea but I hate swimming. I know how to swim. I like to swim outside on a hot summer day but not laps at a gym. That’s not my thing. Here we were so excited to work out together. We agreed on pretty much everything but now he wants to swim and that’s not my thing.
How do we move forward? This is just one part of our workout strategy. He loves to swim and would like to make it part of our plan. I want to leave it out. What if I offered a solution saying, “Let’s compromise, let’s not swim.” Would that really be a compromise? Of course not, I’d be getting my way. It wouldn’t be a gracious move. The situation is of a nature where I automatically win and get my way if any solution involves us not swimming.
Did you catch that? If you didn’t you’ll move straight to the comments and start ranting without “getting” the idea of the post.
Swimming would require me to be selfless. Swimming would require me to consider our relationship above my preferences. Swimming would require grace on my part. If we decide to swim, additionally, my friend would need to show grace by not making fun of me. If my friend is always talking about how swimming is the best of all workouts and always trying to get me to love swimming then he is not considering our friendship above his interests.
If I agree to swimming being a part of our workout routine, then I am acquiescing to my friend. I am silent on my disdain for swimming for the sake of something better (us working out together). Ok, this is not a post about swimming. This is a post about theology.
If you’ve been a Christian for a while you should have several relationships where you have acquiesced. You should have several spiritual workout partners who like to swim. In these relationships you have decided to minister together above a secondary point of doctrine. Here’s an example. Imagine if I told you, “I only associate, go to church with, and minister alongside Christians who hold to the northern theory of Galatians.” Wouldn’t you think that I’m a moron? Now, you might already think I’m a moron without the Galatians stuff but wouldn’t it seem silly for me to divide over the northern/southern Galatians theory debate?
In Christian theology there are a few essential orthodox topics that are non-debatable. If someone approached me and said, “Let’s go and tell people about Jesus together and be in Christian community together. I just need to let you know, however, I don’t believe in the Trinity. Is that ok?” I could not approach the situation in the same way as a workout partner who wants to swim. The Trinity is at the heart of what it means to be Christian. I could not be in “Christian” community and speak a “Christian” message about Jesus if we are not embracing the same essential “Christian” definition of God as Trinity. The Trinity is a non-negotiable essential.
There are many other aspects of Christianity, however, that are important but not essential. These are “swimming” type issues. These are the acquiescable issues (yes, I think that’s a word). Here’s the REAL issue provoking this post.
I’m in the process of becoming an elder at my church. There are thousands of things I love about my church. I love our absolute focus on Jesus. I love the church is intentionally engaged on the frontline of ministry. We seek to be just as comfortable walking alongside the homeless meth addict and the mayor of Moore. We take a strong stand for truth but we aren’t separated from culture. I could go on and on about the aspects of my church I love. In my church there are two aspects, from my perspective, where the other leaders have said, “We like swimming.”
The two areas are praying in tongues and spiritual gifts of prophecies. Our church would broadly be defined as Continuationist while I lean more toward a Soft Cessationism. If I want to be a part of advancing the gospel in my city with this local church I can’t say, “Guys, let’s compromise. Let’s just not swim.” That wouldn’t be a compromise, it would be me getting my way. This is an opportunity for acquiescence. It’s an opportunity for our city to see love in the midst of difference. It’s an opportunity to live out the centrality of Jesus rather than northern-galatian homogenous church.
I’ve been around people who occasionally pray in tongues and I don’t think it’s from Satan. One Sunday morning my wife had been in extreme chronic pain and we asked a lady to pray for us. We all had tears in our eyes. We were all praying for my wife in the name of Jesus. The lady then prayed in tongues for a little while. We knew she was praying to Jesus for my wife to be healed. That was good enough for me. You see half the time I don’t even know what people praying in English are talking about. What are traveling mercies anyway? What does that really mean? How about bless this food to our body? Is that asking for your food to not secretly be poison?
Anyway, this is not a post about those two spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and elsewhere. It’s about my decision to acquiesce on this issue. I realized I wanted to be a part of this body of believers. We are lined up on the essentials of the faith. We love each other. We are excited to work out. They know my preference isn’t to swim laps every day but I am also not trying to get them to stop. I acquiesce and we move forward for Jesus.
It would be a different story if I didn’t know how to swim. There are some non-essential issues where I would have to say, “I don’t know how to swim. If this is something you really want to do then we’ll have to find different workout partners.” For me a non-essential issue I could not acquiesce is female lead pastors. It’s not because I think women are bad leaders it’s just because I think God clearly told us men need to fulfill those roles. I still consider people who disagree with me believers if they trust Jesus. We aren’t enemies but I know that issue is not one where I can acquiesce. I couldn’t swim with a female lead pastor (that’s probably a good thing anyway since I’m married).
Here’s my question to you. Please take at least a moment to examine yourself on this issue. Do you have a practical theology of acquiescence? Do you have a northern-Galatia-only faith? Is it just you four and no more and you’re not sure about the other three? Or, have you locked arms with people who aren’t completely lined up but are equally enthralled with Jesus? Let’s all have areas where WE take the lead and acquiesce.