Most Christians carry unexamined criteria that others must agree with before they’re accepted
I was once interviewed for a volunteer position at my church. The pair of interviewers cranked through a series of pre-assigned theological questions to determine my supposed worthiness to lead.
For some queries the answers were straightforward; others, not so much. On these tougher questions, instead of responding with simplistic answers, I shared a more complex perspective, one packed with more questions but backed by biblical support. I answered with shades of gray, but my inquisitors wanted black and white responses. I knew what they wanted to hear, but instead I was honest. I suppose that in a sense I should have responded with the religious equivalent of political correctness.
For my candor I earned a one-on-one meeting with the senior pastor. He had five areas where he sought clarification. We worked through the first four without issue; he accepted my grayscale answers.
Though I don’t remember what it was, the fifth area was problematic. As he drilled down I realized I was at a tipping point. If I gave the pat answer he wanted to hear I was in. If I vacillated, I was out.
I wanted to serve my church in this capacity and, more importantly, I felt God had called me to do so – more succinctly, he told me to. With only a tinge of guilt I gave the easy answer that would assure my acceptance. Pastor smiled and shook my hand. I was in. I passed his spiritual litmus test.
We all have spiritual litmus tests. Though I try not to, I know I do. So do you. Of a larger concern, churches have their litmus tests, too. These litmus tests are why our world is saddled with 43,000 Protestant denominations. After all, if we agreed on everything there would be no reason to take the unbiblical step of separating from one another, of dividing the church that Jesus prayed would experience unity.
While most everyone draws a spiritual line in the sands of theology that cannot be crossed, none of this should matter. Whether it’s disagreeing about baptism, communion, which version of the Bible is best, the song selection, pews or chairs, the color of the lobby, or even if men need to wear ties to church, Jesus wants us to be one. Unity is more important than theology (and personal preference). That’s what matters most.