I’m listening to the radio as I get dressed and hear one of the radio preachers say that if you’re a good Christian, you won’t ever get involved in playing the lottery. It’s dishonest.
Thoughts about that?
I don’t think that the preacher should have gone there in the first place. Why would you possibly lose a listener’s attention over such a trite matter as the lottery?
I was talking to a parishioner who became the lone Anglican in his family as a teenager. He said that what brought him to Anglicanism was that in his previous church he heard a sermon one week on the need to be saved and the next week on the evils of smoking. Both were preached with equal passion and in his young mind they seemed to be held as equivalents. Then he attended an Anglican church and when he heard the Creed being recited he realized that Anglicans make a difference between essentials and non-essentials. It is the essentials of the Creed that unite us. We can and do have very different opinions on even important matters such as politics and the like.
Some may believe the matter of the lottery to be a moral issue but I would put it in the non-essential category. As such I do not consider it a worthy standard of whether someone is or is not a good Christian. By way of contrast, I just read an article about the Dean of the National Cathedral who calls himself a “non theist Christian.” If by “non theist” he means that he does not believe in God, I would put that in the essential category and it would be yet one more reason why people should be leaving The Episcopal Church in droves.
Legalism is a danger for any of us who take the Scriptures seriously and want to walk in holiness. That is why it is so helpful to remember St. Paul’s words “All things are lawful but not all things edify.” (1Cor 10:35) If something falls in the non-essential category, then the next thing to ask is “does it build you up or does it tear you down?” Then you will know whether or not it is something in which to participate. A very helpful old adage is “In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials diversity. In all things, charity.”