What If Love Were As Non-Negotiable as All of Our Other Non-Negotiables?

November 13, 2013

What do we talk about when we talk about “non-negotiables?”6a00d834515f9b69e201310fc671c7970c-800wi

When it comes to our faith, what is not up for debate?

What are the hills we are willing to die on?  The lines we are willing to draw in the sand?

It seems we have a lot of those lines and hills.  Thou shalt not cross this line, or thou shalt be thrown out of the gates, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  The more complex our society becomes, the more choices we have, the more divided we can be.

A few weeks ago, a blog friend asked on Facebook if Christian unity were possible, without compromising “non-negotiable” tenants of our faith.  Those non-negotiables are important.  So I’m wondering if, in our sea of dividing lines, our nearly infinite “non-negotiables,” could we do it?

An Army of One

I have to admit it.  There are a lot of Christians with whom I do not have a lot in common.  Many times, I cringe at another Christian’s culture: their clothing with Jesus slogans, their music, their vocabulary.  And I flat out disagree with just about anyone on at least one major point of faith.  Sometimes, it’s easier for me to relate to people outside Christian culture than in.

It has gotten to the point that I really am not sure where I fit into the Christian spectrum.  Is there a label or a category for a guy like me?  I don’t know.  I haven’t found enough people who share my tastes and opinions to know.

It occurs to me that this isn’t necessarily the fault of everyone around me.  Maybe my gag reflex is too sensitive.

It also occurs to me that the Army’s slogan, “An Army of One” has become more and more fitting for my life.  As I indulge my reflex to divide myself from others and chart my own course, I suddenly look around to find myself frighteningly alone.  As Christians continue to divide (instead of multiplying), we are almost building churches of one or denominations of one.  Of course, the advantage is that our churches of one are perfectly suited to all of our own tastes and opinions.

One More Non-Negotiable

Some people list tenants of faith as their “non-negotiables.”

Other people might mention social issues as “non-negotiables.”

What they mean by this is that if another Christian does not agree on those topics, then it is time to break company.  Those things are not up for debate, and Christian fellowship is not possible when people disagree on non-negotiables.

What if we actually added one more non-negotiable to our list?  What if that non-negotiable was unity?

What if we said, no matter what, that we will embrace, love, encourage people who call themselves Christians?  What if unity was given the same priority as every other sacred cow we hold dear?

I can feel some of you already bristling a little bit.  Your antenna perked up there.  The hairs on your neck may have stiffened a bit.  You’re thinking, “How is that possible?”  “What if they think…”  “What if they don’t believe…”

I don’t know.  It’s just a question.  What would happen if Christians actually made Christian love an unity a non-negotiable agreement, like a marriage contract? 

What would be the worse-case scenario if Christians decided to love each other no matter what?

The Most Important Spiritual Discipline

The thing is, I never learned this in my Christian college…

Or seminary…

I learned all about dividing lines.  I learned about the vocabulary I was supposed to use or not use.  I learned all about the hills where I was supposed to give up my life.  I was taught how to sniff out and “respond” to all the fake Christians who would be assaulting me and my precious faith.

And I learned all about spiritual disciplines.  I learned about historical practices of prayer, contemplation, fasting.

But I go to the gospel, and I don’t see Jesus telling his friends, “Make sure you pray an hour a day.” 

He doesn’t tell them to make sure they fast or they really ought to keep a prayer journal.

But he does lay down one non-negotiable.  A spiritual discipline that will be so much harder than keeping “quiet time.”

I don’t have to tell you what it is.  But it’s been the challenge of my life.

What if we resolved that even if we failed at every other spiritual discipline, we kept that one that Jesus actually mentioned, to love one another?

What do you think?  How do we go about adding one more non-negotiable, one more spiritual discipline?  What do you think has been the long-term consequence of centuries of constant division?  What would be the consequence if we could change that?

6 responses to What If Love Were As Non-Negotiable as All of Our Other Non-Negotiables?

  1. Yeah, I totally relate with you here. I often feel at odds with those around me in the Christian world because my views are a bit patchwork and don’t fit neatly into any denominational package. This doesn’t really bother me because I understand that people can come to different views on certain things, but it certainly bothers the denominations I try to engage with.

    What usually happens is the idea of love in the guise of trying to “correct” what you’re mistaken about. Disagreement is a sign of rebellion or at least having some kind of issue with authority. If love, the kind of love Jesus showed and placed as important, was truly a non-negotiable I think would be quite different. Sadly the idea of love just seems to be subordinate to our doctrinal views and denominational distinctives.
    Jeremy M. recently posted..Wanderings of the Week 11/10/13

  2. Hello, please message VERY IMPORTANT for GOD”S PEOPLE!

    I am witness! great tribulation is almost here! the spiritual plagues coming into all churches on earth!
    All churches on earth are spiritually apostate! Hear my testimony on video just google,”Christ testimony of the churches around the world”!

    God is calling his people out of the man made churches and their teachings on earth.
    the outpouring of God’s Spirit happens just before great tribulation Joel 2:28-30;Acts 2:16-20; Revelation 7:1-3, 13-14, Daniel 12:7,10.

    I am witness to seeing the beast ascended out of the bottomless pit. The beast is in perdition even as you read this message. This perdition is 3.5 years Dan 7:25; Rev 12:6,14,17; Rev 13:5-6; Rev 17:8.
    I am witness thru the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit of truth in seeing image of beast, his mark, and the number of his name in the people of churches on earth Revelation 15:2-3.
    The mark of beast comes from the churches Rev 16:14; Rev 13:6,7-8,16-18; Rev 18:23;1 John 2:15-17; Isaiah 9:6kjv vs. Isaiah 9:5Torah.
    The mark of the beast is spiritual. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places Eph 6:12;Matt 10:28.

    How does the devil deceive the whole world? Revelation 13:8
    thru image of man- Rom 1:23, 25; Isaiah 14:13-14; Rev 13:18; Mark 8:33; 2 Thess 2:4; Matt 24:15; Rev 17:8; Rev 6:15;Rev 19:20.
    thru churches on earth -Isaiah 14:17; Dan 7:21,25; Dan 8:12-13; Dan 11:22,31-32, ; Dan 11:39,45; Matt 24:23-26; Luke 4:5-6; Luke 17:20-23;Mark 11:17; Mark 13:1-2, 5-6; Matt 13:30.
    thru their teachings- 1 thess 5:3,Dan 9:26; Dan 11:22, 31-32;1Tim 4:1; 1Tim 1:6-10; 2Tim 2:16; 2Tim 4:3-4; Titus 1:10-11; Matt 15: 5-6; Matt 16:11; 2 Peter 2:2-3, 18-19; 1 John 4:5;Jude 1: 12,16;1 Cor 2:13; Dan 12:4; 2Tim 3:7.
    thru signs and lying wonders- Matt 7:22; Matt 24:24; 2 Thess 2:9-10;Acts 16:17; Rev 16:14; Rev 18:23; 2 Cor 11:13-15;Daniel 8:12.

    God seals his people in their homes Joel2:28-29; Acts 1:13-14; Isaiah 26:20-21;Ezekiel 9:3-4.
    In book of Daniel fourth kingdom will devour the whole earth Dan 7:23; Joel 2:3; Isaiah 14:17.
    This fourth kingdom and her beast is the mother church in Rome called,” Mystery Babylon the Great the Mother of Harlots Abominations of the earth” Rev10:7; Rev17:5. This mother church spiritually connected to ALL churches great or small of Catholics, Christians, Mormons, Jehovah witnesses. this mother church in Rome spiritually connected Babylon, the Great City, which is spiritually called, “Sodom and Egypt” 2 Thess 2:7; Rev 11:8; Rev 17:9,15,18. This spiritual city is about to receive her hour of judgement Rev 17:1-2; Rev 11:13.

    All churches around the world have same roots as mother church in Rome- pulpit /raised platform, image of man/host (idols), congregation, church buildings between the seas, communion wafer/juice, choir, instruments, celebrate winter/spring holiday-(Rev 11:10; Dan 8:12), weddings, birthdays, funerals, candles, and many more Revelation 18:22-23.

    Man made church buildings are spiritual cages of the god of this world Isaiah 14:13,17; Rev 18:2; Matt 24:24-26!

    And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lights out of the one part under heaven, shines unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.
    Rev 18:4, And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues!
    Seek God in prayer and ask for the truth! this will save you and your family members. I did for two years asking God for the truth about the churches, her leaders and followers and about myself. Hear my testimony on video just google, “Christ testimony of the churches around the world”.

  3. This is a really good post (actually, I enjoy all your posts). I find myself in this push and pull situation. I’ve been so wounded in the past by people in the church (by legalism) that if I hear any hint of legalism from a person’s mouth, I head for the hills. How do you love someone when you’re running away from them? I don’t trust myself to be around them. I’m too impressionable or gullible or whatever the word is. I just don’t trust people anymore. I’m trying to pray over everything I learn or hear and ask the Holy Spirit to help me discern. It’s hard. Because then sometimes I wonder, is that the Holy Spirit or just me? Gah!
    Kate Hall recently posted..Hot Lederhosen and Picnic Pants (CRAP Around the Interwebs #7)

  4. Matt, one of the thing I love about you and your blog is that it is different. You don’t think like the rest of us,me at least, and that challenges me. A person needs to be able to defend his or her beliefs. It was Lewis that said, How boringly the same are all the tyrants, How gloriously different are all the saints.
    There is a deeper issue here I think. The focus in the discussion is on “US”. not the people around us.
    The probability that my theology will be even 99% correct when we meet Jesus is at least 1,000,000/1.
    Jesus will not ask me if my theology was correct, he will ask me if I loved people, even the people who disagree with me.
    There are so many more important issues that get neglected. I would challenge anyone to compare Matt. 7:22 with Matt 25:35-46. Who was it that did the will of the Father?
    The Church in America, in my opinion, ( my opinion and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee at McDonald’s) is insulated from what is happening in the World. There are over 1,000,000,000 people in the world that live on less that $2.00/ day.
    What are we doing about that?
    If we were really acting Biblically, This issue would become so minor it would fade away. Read Romans 14.

  5. I agree with Paul, Matt. I love reading your blog because you challenge my thinking. And I want that because getting all comfy in my warm blanket of theology lulls me to sleep when there is a mission to live. I pray regularly for the love that you spoke about because so much of the time I am so empty of it. I am grateful for the way you stir me. You may feel that you are just “out there” but there are many of us who are navigating some of the same obstacles, so keep it coming.
    Barbara Dillard recently posted..Truth

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