Open Hand; Closed Hand


The key to many questions we might ask about church, and the key to our life and mission together as a church family at Living Church, is to constantly discern what is fixed from what is flexible. On the one hand there are fixed eternal truths in God‘s Word that are simply not negotiable. These are things we must agree on. On the other hand there are a range of issues that are a matter of liberty of opinion. Christians are free to agree to disagree on these issues, while always seeking to maintain the unity we have in the gospel of Jesus.

It can be helpful to picture these two ‘categories’ of issues as a closed hand and an open hand.

The closed hand stands for the not-negotiable truths that we must agree on. These are truths like:

  • Jesus’ death on the cross is the only way to be right with God
  • All we need to know about living as a Christian is in the Bible
  • Prayer is vital to our whole lives
  • The story of Jesus’ death & coming alive again changes lives, communities and countries
  • Everyone needs to hear about Jesus now

In the open hand, there are a whole range of issues that we need to be flexible on and/or that bible believing Christians may have different views on.

Some of these include baptism, Lord‘s Supper, membership, denomination, music and other aspects of how we ‘do church’.

Of course, even these open hand issues need to be shaped by what‘s in the closed hand – they need to be shaped by the gospel of the cross of Jesus. And calling them ‘open hand’ issues doesn’t mean they are of no importance. Rather, it is a way of acknowledging that differences over these issues must not distract us from focussing on those things of ultimate importance—the closed hand issues. Living Church is made up of Christians from a vast array of backgrounds and the key to our unity is this discernment of what belongs in each hand…