Cookie-cutter Christianity is the mindset that all believers at all times and in all places should look, act, and think the very same way on every single point of doctrine and practice. Sometimes it appears from misunderstanding the nature of different believers being in different places in their walk with Christ, and sometimes it appears from our own self-righteous pride. Jesus faced and corrected cookie-cutter Christianity in Matthew 9:14-17. Here are 7 helpful reminders to enable us to deal with one another in love rather than in harmful, unrealistic, sometimes sinful, expectations.
- Adopt Augustine: St Augustine of Hippo was the great North African theologian of the 5thC. He is credited with this summary of relating to one another as believers when it comes to faith and practice. “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
- Train ourselves in Theological Triage: ER nurses and doctors have to triage patients. They have to categorize patients according to the level of emergency. If two patients enter the ER at the same time and one has flu-like symptoms and one is experiencing sharp chest pains, the chest pain patient gets priority. Theological triage means that we need to be able to categorize doctrines and practice. The doctrine of Christ takes precedence over the doctrine of last things. That we agree Jesus is the Son of God is essential, that we agree on premillennialism or amillennialism is non-essential. That we agree on being pure in our sexuality is essential, that we agree on tattoos in non-essential. If we see everything as essential, the garment of the church will tear.
- Delight in Diversity: Discipleship happens in stages and therefore different disciples will be in different places in their walk with God.
- Cancel Comparison: Everyone is not required to be exactly where we are or to have the exact same conviction on every single issue. What we all are required to do is to follow and love the Lord and be growing in our faith. Sometimes we simply have to agree to disagree for unity’s sake.
- Practice Patience: relying on the Spirit, Gal 5:22-23.
- Prefer the Preferences of Others: to strive for unity, Phil 2.
- Keep the minors in the minor category and the major in the major category. Don’t let a major become a minor. Some things are essential. However, don’t let a minor become a major. Some things are non-essential.