Big and Little Things
I was reading some thoughts Douglas Wilson had on Romans 14:1-4 today. It reminded me of something that I experienced in the small unnamed micro-denominational cult-like church I used to attend. One of the comments made by the teaching elder was "Who are we to decide what is or is not important in terms of doctrine" and it occurred to me that this particular stance was one of the things that drove our group to the extremes it held as well as its eventual implosion.
If we lose the ability or refuse to make the distinction between big and little things, first and second things, or foundational truths and things indifferent, then everything becomes a big issue and a hill worth dying on. Furthermore, it forces you to take hard stances precisely where we should be cutting one another some slack. Practical Christian and grace-based living is thereby transformed into rigid and judgmental religion that makes a practice of condemning everything that doesn't conform to its version of holiness. Being right is paramount and woe to any who cross the line.
Christians are not forbidden to judge. In fact, we are commanded to "judge righteous judgement" in John 7:24. Wisdom requires that we be able to discern between the things that are vital and things that are indifferent and thereby avoid unnecessary and divisive controversies.