This week has been a whirlwind of meetings; I’ve been fortunate to have several conversations with local pastors now the holidays have passed. I was hoping to sit down with them to talk about what they see as needs and priorities in this area and to see if there weren’t opportunities for collaboration, and indeed the conversations were very fruitful.
I couldn’t help but be struck once again by the crazy diversity of beliefs that are all put under the “Christian” umbrella right here within a mile of where we meet to worship. There’s not necessarily a whole lot that Pentecostals and Quakers have in common -- until you start to look at lifestyle, that is.
Not that there isn’t still a fair bit of diversity of lifestyle within and between all the Christian churches, but I think broadly speaking there’s a lot more common ground and consensus there than there is in matters of belief. In particular, you’d be hard pressed to find a group of faithful people that doesn’t echo Paul’s words this week from 1 Corinthians: "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be dominated by anything.”
There’s this sense that the things in our lives that cause harm and addiction are to be carefully moderated or even outright rejected. We may disagree on where exactly the line of harm and addiction lies: some churches totally reject alcohol, others discourage TV ownership, others leave it up to the individual but all of these groups echo Paul’s fundamental perspective. Not just our minds but our bodies are holy and valuable, we are not just sponges to be wrung out for every ounce of pleasure but temples to be respected and maintained.
As many of us try to cultivate good habits (and maybe weed out a few bad ones) I hope the broad consensus among people who can hardly agree on anything gives us reason to stick with it.
May an awareness of God’s value for your person suffuse your day,