I remember a huge controversy in education came when teachers were using a life boat scenario to ask students which person they would throw into the water to certain death in order to save the remaining people in the boat. They put labels on the people that forced you to choose young or old, smart vs special needs, rich vs poor, etc. The exercise was called, “Values Clarification.” It generated a lot of heat because it was basically forcing kids to put an ordered value on people based on their “label,” and suggested it was morally okay in certain situations to take a life. The exercise was harmful, but it brings up a very valid point. Our values only mean something when they come into conflict with other values. It is easy to list a series of forty things we value as a church, but when it comes down to making specific decisions, the most important ones rise to the top.
Several years ago, the Elders spent hours discussing what our core values are as a church. In short, it is how we define our mission and how we will behave on the way to fulfilling it. There were many great values we listed, but choosing which ones were the top priorities proved much harder. We had some great clarifying discussion and came up with a list of the most important values. We are going to reflect on them in this blog and some to follow.
Top Core Value: BIBLICALLY FAITHFUL
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”
(2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Even though it was written in several of our statements of faith, we came to the solid conclusion that not only did we want a church that taught from the Bible and stayed true to the belief that it was an inspired letter from God, we wanted to embed the Bible in everything. Not only do we not want to violate Scripture, we want our style of church, our discipleship, and our leadership to come from a daily reliance on the Bible.
It is easy to get to the place where we say, “I know the basic rules of Scripture,” yet lose a deep love for the Bible and a daily reliance on searching it for relationship with God. It is food for our souls and light for our path. Our kids need to memorize verses, our songs need to embed Scriptural words and concepts into our hearts. Our philosophy of ministry needs to be examined in light of the priorities of Jesus. Our ministry leaders need to be leading like Jesus. In every area of family life and church life, the whole teaching of the Bible needs to be evident.
It became a real challenge to me as the Teaching Pastor. I often shared things that I believed were true and could even point to some basis in Scripture if asked, but taking the effort to list verse and show people how these ideas came from God himself was an adjustment. I realized, however, if I didn’t make the effort to do this, any good ideas could be associated with me, and perhaps not to God.
Some of the ways we are trying to live this out are found in the devotional readings on the back of the sermon outline each weekend. It helps people read in their own bibles and find out more personally how the ideas expressed on the weekend are really coming from many parts of the Bible.
I think it would be healthy to examine how much you are using the Bible in your daily life, not only for a short quiet time in the morning, but to give you wisdom with your work and your family and your finances. Does God’s word really feed and inform your thoughts? Do you search for answers in your Bible when life is hard? I hope you find “Biblically Faithful” to be one of your real top values.