Freedom is in knowing who you are in Christ and being able to let things go. It’s refusal to walk in offense and being quick to forgive. It is in the being slow to speak and even slower to anger. Freedom is in knowing that you don’t hold a grudge from a wrongdoing in the past that would potentially weigh you down. It is truly, truly, truly a freeing feeling to know that you don’t need to always be right. My precious elderly aunt once told me that her more than sixty year marriage had lasted because she long ago gave up her right to be right.
Sadly, when I began this article, I realized I could write about twenty or thirty things that Christians argue about. It seems that we’ve become much more known for the disputes we engage in than for the love of Christ that unites us as one. The lines of divide are perhaps more drawn now than they have ever been and with the presence of readily-available media of all kinds, those lines are visible for the world to see. But the truth is most of it does not matter.
Let me clear. Before you even begin to read the list, be forewarned that I will likely hit a nerve. There may be a topic that you feel pretty passionately about. Of course, Biblical interpretation is important. I realize that how we live our lives and the choices we make and the way we represent Christ is all very important. I even realize that Christians choose to adhere to certain traditions because they strongly believe in them based on their understanding of what God’s Word asks of them. I’m not even suggesting that you shouldn’t have opinions are have done research on the upcoming topics. I am saying that the truth remains that even if we are the most astute of Biblical scholars with the most accurate interpretation of the Bible, much of what we argue about won’t matter when we stand face to face with our King. Jesus is the son of God who atoned for sins we could never pay for. The end. We need to spend far more time loving others than we do debating them.
Here are just a few things of the things that we, as Christians, often argue about that won’t matter once we get to Heaven.
- Worship styles. Maybe you attend a church that sings from a hymnal with no instruments whatsoever. Maybe you worship with a full band and smoke filling a stage. Old hymns. New worship songs. Three-hour service at 10am with lunch to follow. Hour-long service at 5pm. Traditional Sunday attire. Jeans and t-shirts. We will argue about anything, won’t we? I get the great privilege of traveling throughout the United States and worshipping with a variety of Christian brothers and sisters and the services are as varied and diverse as we are. What may seem normal and traditional to you could be completely different and new to another. As long as we worship the one true God, it doesn’t matter what order the prayer, songs, preaching, and benediction go, or frankly, if each of those things are present in the service at all. Yes, the Bible references worship and denominations are rooted in those reference points, but when we get to Heaven, we’ll be too busy actually worshiping to worry about the order of service.
- Dancing. To dance or not to dance, that is the question. Growing up, I was raised in a church where we held church dances and Spring formals. Then, I moved to another church, where it was strictly prohibited and local Christian schools prevented proms or Homecoming dance, only allowing for a formal banquet instead. Years later, I attended worship services where people “danced like David danced” and expressed their worship through song and dance. Somehow, I don’t think God will be sentencing people to Hell for their “cabbage patch” and “fox trot”.
- Drinking. Is it okay to have a glass of wine? Is a beer with friends at a football game acceptable? The drinking debate has been going on since I can remember. In fact, I’m almost certain I heard from a church Sunday School teacher about whether or not it was acceptable for my dad to have a beer, before I even heard a presentation of the Gospel! Listen, I get the debate. Drinking can be dangerous to our physical bodies and our witness. It can also be the most trivial of matters. I have no interest in going toe-to-toe with another Believer on whether or not their occasional glass of wine is okay. Each church’s views can be different on this and yet, when we get to Heaven, I have a strong feeling we won’t still be discussing Sally’s bottle of beer from 1949.
- The rapture. Pre-trib. Post-trib. I’m not looking for a debate on this one, but think about it for just a moment. When we are in Heaven, the details about when we were taken up to Heaven won’t matter anymore. We’ll just be there.
- Culture. We argue about pretty much everything that exists in culture today. Who is wearing what (e.g. skirts versus pants, skinny jeans and crop tops and the like)? Who is reading what? Is that author sold out for Christ or selling self-help? Who is speaking where? Is that Christian speaker really a Christian? What Christian authors are really false prophets? Look. I get it. The music we listen to, the books we read, and the clothes we wear matter. The pastor we choose to align with and submit to matters. But the word war I’ve seen transpire over whether or not XYZ church is really a good church or XYZ speaker is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing is exhausting.
- Social media. First, there’s the whole “whether we should even have social media” debate for the more traditional Christian. Then, there’s the whole debate about what we use it for. Is it okay to just post funny pictures of the kiddos? Or should we be peppering every day with the obligatory 2.5 Scriptures? Should we engage in word wars on social media with those who are promoting what we deem an anti-Christian agenda? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen these types of debates settled on a Facebook page. If you stand strongly on one side of the political aisle and vehemently disagree with the other side and are convinced that the opposite side “couldn’t possibly be Christians”, then the argument is not going to be resolved in a social media platform. People’s views are birthed through their life experience and the questions have to become, “Is this debate worth losing a brother or sister in Christ? Is it worth losing a friend that I should be leading towards Christ? Is my response to this post loving and kind and would Jesus say it?”
- Denominational differences. I was raised to believe that the denomination I was born into was where the “real” Believers attended. Imagine my surprise, as I grew older, when I met friends from other churches who believed they were Christians, too. Surely, we couldn’t all be Christians, right? As one who works with lots of denominations and has educated myself over the last 10 years on the nuances of different denominations, here is what I’m more convinced of than ever. The name of your church or the denomination for which you most closely align won’t matter in Heaven. We’ll worship together in union and somehow, those pesky lines of divide won’t even be visible anymore.
- Good works. Even though we know that works don’t get us to Heaven, we sure want others to know about our good work, don’t we? We keep that internal score card of how many times we served in children’s ministry and Sally did nothing. We keep watch on how “the church couldn’t run without us there”. We want others to know how good we are. We want others to know how much money we donated and how many hours we served. Let’s face it. We like to keep score. But maybe what we didn’t know was that Sally’s family commitments kept her from serving or maybe she secretly battled feelings of insecurity that made it harder for her to volunteer in a particular capacity. Faith without works is dead. (See James 2:14-26). I think it’s very important to serve others, for many, many reasons. But we won’t be talking about how many hours we spent in the homeless shelter when we get to Heaven.
- Money. What pastor is making too much money? To tithe or not to tithe? Where are you spending your money? Do only the poor go to Heaven? Is our rich boss really a Christian? We are obsessed with our money, others’ money, and the churches’ money. It won’t matter. Our Father owns the cattle of a thousand hills. His resources are endless.
- Our mouth. The need to be right will no longer encapsulate our every thought. The need to demand the world submit to our views on Christian behavior will no longer matter. We will be standing before the King, or bowing in awe of His majesty. There will be great freedom in our release of any need to say, “I told you so”. The moment will be too big, too important.
For the record, I have an opinion about many of the topics I just wrote about. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, I realize that it doesn’t matter. Much of it won’t matter on the other side. My prayer is that you can come to that same freedom. Live a life full of love. Show the love of Christ through your own actions not words of debate.