Unity in the Essentials | Joey Stontz | Elder "Postscript" Blog | June 2022
“Lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.”
WORLD’S LONGEST POSTSCRIPT (that even Dr. Lance Wonders would be proud of)
Even though a few months have gone by, I’d like to respectfully include a postscript (which is actually more like a blog) to my March blog titled "Avoiding Deception Through Community Discernment" for several reasons. Firstly, I want to be clear that my previous blog was written from my own personal perspective and did not represent our entire team of elders. We, as an elder team, have always had consensus when we send out our elder blogs, but in this case, we gave allowance for our variances. As leaders and elders, we should have mentioned that fact as a prelude to the blog, and I will take onus for that misstep.
Even though our elder team holds differing perspectives on non-essential matters–such as when the rapture will take place, who wrote the book of Hebrews, Chipotle vs Jimmy Johns, or interpretations of prophecies related to the 2020 elections–we are unified in the essentials of our faith, in our mission and vision for the church, and in our love for God and His people.
In the words of an undistinguished German Lutheran theologian of the early seventeenth century, Rupertus Meldenius, in our elder team, we have:
Unity in the essentials,
Liberty in the non-essentials,
And in all things charity.
I humbly recognize that there are other brothers and sisters in our community who have a different vantage point than mine on these matters, and I realize that my perspective is not the only way of seeing things. I wrote my blog from the primary standpoint of wanting us, as a community, to be able to hear God more clearly. The example I used in the blog to highlight the church’s need for increased discernment was the prophetic swirl surrounding the 2020 elections. Although I did not mention any names in my blog, I was critiquing a few of the prophets who gave specific and incorrect dates for Donald Trump’s return to the Oval Office such as Chris Yoen and Jeff Jansen, and was thinking of other prophets who publicly apologized for their inaccuracies such as Kris Valloton, Loren Sanford, and Jeremiah Johnson.
To be clear, I am not throwing stones and labeling these ones mentioned above as “false prophets.” Not even true modern day prophets should be deemed as infallible; they need to be given grace on occasion when they see things very dimly. My goal was to simply point out that many prophetic voices got it wrong, illuminate the need for us to more accurately hear God’s voice, and in a unified way, help each other discern what is prophetically happening all around us.
That being said, there could very well be a scenario where Donald Trump gets elected in 2024 and vindicates the prophetic words of many prophets who predicted a reelection of our former President. Moreover, there could be a scenario–which many in our community are faithfully contending and praying for–in which voting irregularities and illegalities surrounding the 2020 elections are exposed and the official election results overturned. In other words, the jury could still be out on a second-term for Donald Trump.
IRON SHARPENING IRON
Internationally acclaimed gourmet chef, Gordon Ramsay, would abhor the thought of a dull blade being used in his premier kitchens around the world. His top chefs recognize the culinary value of clashing a rod of steel in a skilled and fluid manner against the knife they are about to prepare food with.
Proverbs 27:17 encourages this when it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
The idea behind this analogy is that we help each other improve through our discussions, critiques, suggestions, and ideas.
One of the beautifully stretching processes stemming from this blog was a healthy, respectful, and thorough back-and-forth iron-sharpening-iron dialogue with several members in our Body who hold differing perspectives than my own. I have greatly appreciated the honesty, authenticity, honor, and respect that these brothers have shown to me and the Lord in this process. Without hesitation, I can say that it is an incredible honor to serve God and fight for His truth alongside these brothers (along with any others who share their convictions and sentiments).
The words of our Senior Elder, Larry Alberts, have aptly applied here: “Conflict is necessary for the deepening of relationships. Yet unresolved conflict is a scandal to both God and man.”
Through this character-refining process, not only have I found that my perspective has widened, but more importantly, my love has grown for these brothers that I have been conversing with. For all of us involved, our relationship has proven more desirable and valuable than winning.
It truly is the inside-outside upside-down Kingdom where you lose to gain and you die to win. [Thank you, Misty Edwards for that gold.]
So without further ado, I leave us with this melded encouragement from Peter, Paul, and Meldenius:
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).
May we make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit by binding ourselves to God’s shalom peace (Ephesians 4:3) as we strive for unity in the essentials, liberty in the non-essentials, and in all things charity.
by His grace alone,