Freedom is knowing your identity is found in Christ, who enables his followers to hold to what matters, and to let go of what does not. Freedom in Christ is quick to forgive, slow to speak, and slow to anger. And it is truly freeing to know that you don’t always need to be right. My precious, elderly aunt once told me that her marriage had lasted more than 60 years because she long ago gave up her right to be right.
When I began this article, I realized I could mention 20 or 30 things that Christians argue about. It seems that we’ve become more known for the disputes we engage in than for the love of Christ that unites us as one. The lines of divide are perhaps more drawn now than they have ever been, and with media of all kinds readily available, those lines are visible for the world to see. But the truth is, most of it does not matter.
Let me be clear, biblical interpretation is important, as are the choices we make and the way we represent Christ. I realize that Christians choose to adhere to certain traditions based on their understanding of God’s Word.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t have opinions or research the upcoming topics. I am saying that even if we are the most astute of Bible scholars with the most accurate interpretation of the Bible, much of what we argue about won’t matter when we stand face to face with our King. What will matter on that day are not the debates we won, but rather the love we shared through Jesus Christ.
Here are just a few examples of the things that we, as Christians, often argue about that won’t matter once we get to heaven.
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1. Worship Styles
Maybe you attend a church that sings from a hymnal with no instruments whatsoever. Maybe you worship with a full band and smoke filling the stage. Old hymns or new worship songs? Three-hour service at 10am with lunch to follow or an hour-long service at 5pm? Traditional Sunday attire or jeans and t-shirts? We will argue about anything, won’t we?
I have the great privilege of traveling throughout the United States and worshipping with a variety of Christian brothers and sisters, and the services are as diverse as we are. What may seem normal to you could be completely foreign to someone else. As long as we worship the one true God, it doesn’t matter in what order the prayer, songs, preaching, and benediction go.
Yes, the Bible references worship, and denominations tend to base themselves in many of those reference points. But when we get to heaven, we’ll be too busy actually worshiping to worry about the order of service.
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To dance or not to dance, that is the question. Growing up, I was raised in a church where we held church dances and spring formals. Then I moved to another church where dancing was strictly prohibited, and local Christian schools replaced proms and homecoming dances with a formal banquet. Years later, I attended worship services where people “danced like David danced.” Somehow, I don’t think God will be condemning people for their “cabbage patch” and “fox-trot,” but rather paying attention to the posture of their hearts in worship.
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Is it okay to have a glass of wine? Is a beer with friends at a football game acceptable? The drinking debate has been going on ever since I can remember. In fact, I’m almost certain I heard from a church Sunday school teacher about whether or not it was acceptable for my dad to have a beer before I even heard a presentation of the gospel.
I get the debate. Drinking can be dangerous to our physical bodies and our witness, and being drunk is specifically condemned in Scripture (Ephesians 5:18). But I have no interest in going toe-to-toe with another believer on whether or not their occasional glass of wine is okay. Each church’s views are different on this. But when we get to heaven, I have a strong feeling we won’t still be discussing Sally’s bottle of beer from 1949.
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4. The Rapture
Pre-tribulation or post-tribulation? I’m not looking for a debate on this one, but think about it for just a moment. When we are in heaven, the details about when we were taken up to heaven won’t matter anymore. We will just be there.
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Should the pastor be making that much? Should I be tithing? How much? Where is that person spending their money? We are obsessed with our money, others’ money, and the church’s money. It won’t matter. Our Father owns the cattle of a thousand hills. His resources are endless.
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We find topics for argument in nearly every facet of culture today. Who is wearing what (skirts versus pants, skinny jeans, crop tops, and the like)? Who is reading what? Is that author sold out for Christ or selling self-help? Who is speaking where? Is that Christian speaker really a Christian? What Christian authors are really false prophets?
Look, I get it. The music we listen to, the books we read, and the clothes we wear matter. The pastor we choose to align with and submit to matters. But the word-wars can become exhausting, distracting us from our Father’s commission to be salt and light to the world we live in.
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7. Social Media
First, there’s the whole “whether we should even have social media” debate—then, the argument about what we use it for. Is it okay to just upload funny pictures of the kiddos, or should we be posting Scriptures every day? Should we engage on social media with those who are promoting what we deem an anti-Christian agenda?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen these types of debates settled on a Facebook page. If you stand strongly on one side of the political aisle and are convinced that the opposite side “couldn’t possibly be Christians,” then the argument is not going to be resolved on a social media platform.
People’s views are birthed through their life experiences, and we should ask ourselves, “Is this debate worth losing a brother or sister in Christ? Is it worth losing a friend who I should be leading toward Christ? Is my response to this post loving and kind and something Jesus would say?”
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8. Denominational Differences
I was raised to believe that the denomination I was born into was where the “real” believers attended. Imagine my surprise as I grew older and met friends from other churches who believed they were Christians too. Surely, we couldn’t all be Christians, right?
As one who works with lots of denominations and has educated myself over the last 10 years on the nuances of difference between them, I’m convinced that the name of your church or the denomination with which you most closely align won’t matter in heaven as long as you have a relationship with Jesus. We will worship together in union, and somehow, those pesky lines of divide won’t even be visible anymore.
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9. Good Works
Even though we know works don’t get us to heaven, we sure want others to know about our good work, don’t we? We keep that mental scorecard of how many times we’ve served in the children’s ministry while Sally did nothing. We contemplate how “the church couldn’t run without us there.” We want others to know how good we are, how much money we’ve donated, and how many hours we’ve served.
Let’s face it: we like to keep score. I think it’s very important to serve others for many, many reasons. After all, faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26). But when we get to heaven, we won’t be talking about how many hours we spent volunteering in the homeless shelter. We will be basking in the glory of our God who accomplished it all for us.
In heaven, the need to be right will no longer encapsulate our every thought. The need to demand that the world submit to our views on Christian behavior will no longer matter. We will be standing before the King or bowing in awe of His majesty. There will be great freedom in letting go of the need to say, “I told you so.” The moment will be too big, too important.
For the record, I have an opinion about many of the topics I just wrote about. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, I realize that much of it won’t matter on the other side. My prayer is that you can come to that same freedom. Live a life full of love. Show the love of Christ through your actions, not your words of debate.
Jennifer Maggio is an author of four books, mother of three, and wife to Jeff. She is a national speaker and founder of the international nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is an abuse survivor who is passionate about women finding a life of complete freedom in Christ. For more info, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
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Originally published Thursday, 28 March 2019.