Everything we believe may be important, but not equally so. We draw a hard line around orthodoxy that defines our Christian belief and fellowship. We draw a dotted line around our functional distinctives because, while we may enjoy broader fellowship with other Christians, there are certain beliefs that are necessary for a local church to operate in a healthy way. What about our personal convictions?
Within the context of each local church there will be differences in personal convictions and standards among its members (and this list is just about endless). These differences are not differentiated by lines but by the space we allow one another (Romans 14).
Personal convictions and standards are important to the practical living out of the Christian life. At some point we have to take the commands, teachings, and principles taught in the Word of God and bring them down to where we live. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
While personal convictions may be a good thing, there are also accompanying dangers. There will be a tendency to view these standards as a badge of spirituality, or even to judge other’s spirituality by how well they measure up to our own personal standards. This can lead to a type of Phariseeism that hurts everyone. On the other hand, a disdain for personal convictions can easily push us toward a life that is just as dangerous. Most of the students I talk to agree that this is the greater challenge for their generation. Either way, legalism or license, we miss the point of grace.