beside the point...
Beside the point…
There are so many sidebar issues in Christianity leading to a lot of sideways energy being expended. Things like membership, church constitutions, policy manuals, board meetings, website updates, video clips, bulletins, programming, technology, parking, greeting, coffee & cookies, cleaning, landscaping, utilities, maintenance, building usage forms, church calendars, staffing, to name a few.
Each of these things has its place. I cringe to imagine some of these things not being taken care of, championed with a heart of passionate precision. I like restocked toilet paper as much as the next guy. I’m all about having heat in the winter, especially in Michigan. I would hate for two weddings to be planned on the same weekend because someone dropped the ball in scheduling. So believe me when I say these issues have their place.
But their place is beside the point. It’s not central; it’s peripheral. Whenever the fixation on any one of these becomes inordinate, it becomes insubordinate, in my opinion. I have witnessed firsthand that great injury sustained by the kingdom when my heart has gotten sidetracked and sidelined by an excessive fascination with the “beneficial” at the expense of the “essential”.
There is a passage in the Scripture than says something like, “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.” In the case, it would be something more like, “All these things are beneficial, but not all these things are essential.”
And when you misplace the essential, you misplace the essence. The word essence can translated “spirit”. In Latin it is called the “genius loci”, the spirit of place. When this vanishes, or rather, is vanquished, you are left with a corpse, not a church. The quintessential is gone and the funeral procession isn’t far behind.
You can fight for Calvinism or Armenianism, but you must realize that it’s beside the point. You can argue over divorce and remarriage, but it will forever remain beside the point. You can engage in heated banter over eschatological theories, but at the end of the day, it remains beside the point. Fight for a reformed worldview or a dispensational worldview if you must, but be forewarned that you’re beside the point in your debate. Eternal security/eternal insecurity. Organized religion/disorganized religion. Order of worship/worship of order. These things will break the hearts of their worshippers. They were never meant to hold such high place, which is interestingly the location of most Old Testament idol worshipping.
The point was, is, and will always be the celebration of Jesus, crucified, buried, risen and coming again. It is our standing with Him that matters most. It is our friendship with his heart that determines our quality of life, our fellowship with His Spirit that defines the merit of our faith. We cannot feel good about anything less than Jesus, and even more dangerous, anything more. If the fruits of His Spirit aren’t born in us, we labor in vain, we apologetically argue in vain, we sing, serve and sacrifice for naught. We get an A+ in beside-the-point-ology.
I wonder how many are living lives of peripheral purpose. I wonder if this will be the longest line at the Great White Throne. “I’ve done many wonderful things in Your name.” they’ll contend. And with eyes of fire and tears he will reply, “Yes, I know. But I never knew you. You never knew me. This was the point all along. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.”
Jesus essential says, “What you did was beside the point.”
I often wonder if it is the stuff we do right next to the point that becomes the greatest threat to our getting the point at all. So close, yet so far away.