On a trip recently, we passed some newly painted rocks on a building and my traveling companion, who had seen the rocks before they had been painted, expressed her displeasure and jokingly stated, "If God had wanted those rocks that color he'd have made them that way to begin with!"
There are many things God isn't particular about, like whether or not we paint rocks, or what we eat, or our mode of transportation (Romans 14:17; 1 Timothy 4:1-5).
Yes, I can remember hearing about people in the early 1900's who were serious when they said that if God wanted us to fly he'd have given us wings. Additionally, there are mysteries we won't understand until Jesus returns, like the kind of body we'll have for eternity (1 John 3:2; 2 Corinthians 12:2-4).
We shouldn't worry about those matters (Deuteronomy 29:29). All we should be concerned about is what we can understand from a diligent personal study of God's word so we can live properly today and inherit eternal life (Ephesians 3:4; Philippians 3:12-16; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:21-25; Acts 17:11).
With thorough study, we'll find that God is very particular about some things and he lets us know it. For example, when he told Moses to build the tabernacle, he specified the materials to be used and the design (Exodus 25:1-9).
God clearly tells us what he wants us to do and not do and he expects those who teach by any method to speak everything he said, but only what he said (Romans 7:7; 4:15; Deuteronomy 24:8; 1 Peter 4:11; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 20:26-27).
Even Jesus submitted to that expectation, which is why he could become the author of our salvation if we obey him (John 14:31; Hebrews 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:22-25).
There also are some things that would never have entered God's mind to command (Jeremiah 32:32-35). Nonetheless, people come up with requirements for salvation and Christian living that set aside his other commands (Matthew 15:1-9; Deuteronomy 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19). Pitting commands or teachings against each other to establish conflict and set aside the command is inappropriate. It's all God's word and even seemingly contradictory instructions can be reconciled with further Bible study that's based in the open-mindedness of a child (Matthew 18:3-4).
For example, pitting teachings about the place of grace and human works in salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9) against God's command to be baptized (Acts 2:38-39; 22:16) is an attempt to set aside that command. Further study shows that God is the one who does the work in baptism and participating in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ through baptism, which is necessary to belong to Jesus and receive the indwelling of his Spirit, does not set aside God's grace (Colossians 2:8-12; Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 2:20-21; 5:24; Ephesians 1:13-14).
This is no joke. We aren't to neglect what God considers important (Hebrews 2:1-4) and if he didn't care whether or not we're baptized, why did he say anything about it at all?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at email@example.com