This “creed” in Deuteronomy is about the corporate identity of Israel as the people of the one true and living God. This is who we are. This is in your heart. Impress this on your kids. Talk about this all the time. This is who we are.
In Corinth, the church was really struggling with their identity. “The church leader I follow is more important and more respected than the church leader you follow.” “I have more and better spiritual gifts than you do.” “I pledge my loyalty to Christ, but I don’t want to give up the prestigious civic luncheons at the pagan temple.” “Pool people can belong to our church, but the culture says they can’t eat the meal with me at my table.”
Paul answers all of that by reminding them of who they are and to whom they belong. In correcting their behavior, he reminds them of the story to which they now belong:
“I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you have received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you… For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-5
This is who we are. Summaries of the core beliefs remind us. There’s a difference between the non-negotiables of the Christian faith and the disputable matters that aren’t that important. Likewise, the Apostles’ Creed reminds us: these are the mountains we die on. And becoming more familiar with the mountains keeps us from sticking our flags in the molehills, from getting our knickers in a wad over silly stuff.
This is who we are. This is what we believe.
And today, as Christianity falls farther out of favor with our culture, as the world becomes more secular and more hostile to our faith, we’re going to be less and less identified by the secondary things. The primary things will move more and more to the center of who we are. The Apostles’ Creed is primary. Things of first importance.