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In Super Bowl XXXVII, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Raiders, the final score of 48-21 was substantially overshadowed by an off-the-field football player in a Reebok commercial. Six feet seven inches, 330 pounds, all hard muscle, and the point of the commercial was that some nameless company had hired Terry Tate the Office Linebacker, played by Lester Speight, to be its code enforcer. If you used your company laptop to play solitaire, boom! He flattened you with a tackle. If you didn’t get back from lunch in exactly thirty minutes, boom! This lightning-fast monster came flying through the air ready to clothesline you into submission. If your fax didn’t have a cover sheet on it, #56 would tear down the hallway, jump across the line of scrimmage, and boom!

Do we need that kind of “enforcer” at church? A Leadership cartoon once portrayed a Sunday School teacher who looked like a Marine drill instructor: butch haircut, square chin, no-nonsense clip-on tie. And he has a new, fragile Christian by the neck, lifting him two feet off the ground, while eight other people are quaking in their boots in the background. He bellows at the poor sinner: “Sixty-one? Sixty-ONE? What do you mean, there’s sixty-one books in the Bible? Drop and give me twenty!” The caption reads: “It quickly became clear that retired General George ‘No Surrender’ Summers was the wrong choice to teach the new members class.”

Keeping Score

Well, that’s all in fun, but have you ever been personally tackled over Bible truth and your particular interpretation of it? If you were driving to church this morning, and thinking to yourself that there are 61 books in the Bible, instead of the correct, true, holy answer of 66, should I radio ahead and get the CHP (that’s the Christian Highway Patrol) to pull you over at the next intersection and beat the heresy out of you?

In Titus 3:9, Paul gives us this advice. "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless." In 1 Timothy 6, he gently warns about divisive Christians who have “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind."

It’s true that some Bible pillars need to be stoutly defended; there are doctrines in Scripture that the church can never surrender. This same inspired writer, Paul, tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection of Jesus is a pivotal truth; the entire Christian edifice falls if that teaching gets even a crack in it. If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

So how do we decide what beliefs are vital? C.S. Lewis lamented in his Mere Christianity preface: “One of the things Christians are disagreed about is the importance of their disagreements.” But it’s safe to say that anything which impacts our eternal salvation is important. Anything that casts God’s kingdom in a false light is important. Anything that besmirches His character is important.

Beyond that, heaven invites us to simply have a gentle and inquiring spirit. When you go to prayer meeting, don’t bring a football helmet and shoulder pads. Maybe try some knee pads instead.

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By David Smith. Copyright © 2015 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.


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