I have been thinking about minimal standards recently.
For example Monday night in our Session meeting on Zoom we were reminded that an active member of the Presbyterian Church is anyone who has given some financial gift of any amount and attended worship at least twice over the last 2 years.
That’s a very low bar. I don’t think I would consider someone active who went to the Christmas Eve service two years in a row and gave $5 to the church.
Sometimes we wonder what does one have to believe to call oneself a Christian. Is being a follower of Jesus’s teachings enough? Do you have to believe Jesus is the Son of God, God in human form? Or in the virgin birth or the resurrection?
For ordination as elder or pastor we ask these things:
- Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
- Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word to you?
- Do you sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith as expressed in the confessions of our church as authentic and reliable expositions of what Scripture leads us to believe and do, and will you be instructed and led by those confessions as you lead the people of God?
And what about moral conduct? Are there essential moral rules we must follow to be faithful Christians?
Some say the church is a hospital for sinners. That sounds pretty pathetic to me. We can do better than that. Yes, I think there are non-negotiable moral laws like the ones in the 10 commandments. Honor your family, don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie or cheat.
Here are a few more I add that come from Jesus. Treat all people like you would like to be treated. Take the speck out of your own eye before worrying about the log in your friend’s eye. Try your best to be self-reflective, honest about your own flaws, and not hypocritical. Be reliable and faithful and dependable. Judge not so you won’t be judged.
Jesus had a lot to say about how the Samaritans were looked down on but often behaved far better than the so-called righteous pious people.
My favorite Jewish writer Isaac Singer said that our problem is not that we need more moral conduct laws. The problem is that we do such a poor job of obeying the rules we already have.
Maybe these words will inspire you to think about your own rules for life and stay focused on the most important ones.Of course we are going to make mistakes or stray from the path. But as long as our intentions are good, God honors that and offers forgiveness and a fresh start. That is Good News!