We went, sat down in the cozy little room with a few other people, and the pastor sat across from us and started into his prepared speech:
“We as a church aim to be relevant.”
Midget and I must be excellent Vulcans, because neither of us showed any emotion at this but each of us were dumbfounded at this being the first thing stated. If we had not already educated ourselves to this particular church, my immediate reaction would have been to write it off as not worth my time.
Why the strong reaction? Because I would like to argue that if as a church your first goal is to be hip and in the know with the world, to use the words of Blimeycow– you’re doing it wrong. Going to Scripture:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:18-19
I understand the motive behind the statement the pastor made. We need to live in the world, even if we aren’t of it. And to do that we need to be aware of what is going on and not live in little Christian bubbles. But I think we need to be careful in our quest to make the church approachable and not lose sight that we will never ‘fit in’ 100% with the world, and if we do, we need to seriously re-evaluate our actions.
Days like yesterday I love having animals. It’s like after a long day of fighting with technology here is something that is just squishy. And wants dinner.
This week has also seen a lot of stuffing envelopes, so I have been continuing working my way through my podcast queue. I’ve finished Welcome to Night Vale and the sermons from my home church (well, at least until there are new ones), so I started on the sermons from a friend’s church. She recommended it to me because she thought I would really like her church, but she lives too far for me to visit her church, so podcast it is!
And while she was right, I am thoroughly enjoying the messages her pastor is teaching, that is not what is sticking out to me the most. The church is located in Los Angeles, and even if you sat down to listen to these sermons and hadn’t read the title, you could guess where the pastor is preaching. I’m also reading a theology book that was written in 1930 and the tone is one that you can tell this book was written after World War I and before World War II. Both the podcasts and the book have more to say than their place in the world or history, they are teaching excellent theology, but both are so much richer when taken in context to where/when they were written/spoken.
Some of the most amazing experiences of my life have been opportunities to see fellow believers worshiping in other parts of the world, or even locally but from a different style of worship. I hope I never lose the feeling of amazement that we are all worshiping the same Lord.
I missed my Thursday update.
I had a good reason, there was Halloween and an advance showing of Ender’s Game. And then the not good reason of I simply forgot to write and schedule a post in advance. (And then the internet went down so I couldn’t post this until later.)
I had this well crafted argument in my head, down to the paragraph breaks—and then time went by and I forgot all of it except the drive behind it. So instead, I want to take this time to write on the simplicity of the gospel.
““For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 NASB
Now, if you are anything like me, you learned that verse in AWANA right when they were switching over from Old King James to New King James, then spent the rest of your childhood learning Scriptures in New American Standard so whenever you end up quoting that verse you end up quoting a mixture of all three versions. Which is why I pulled the NASB translation directly from Biblegateway.com. Back to my point, the gospel, the Good News, is amazingly simple. God loved us, was not willing to let all mankind perish (predestination/free will argument will not be touched on here today), gave His Son and all we have to do is accept that gift and believe.
That’s it. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. You do nothing to earn this. You do nothing to deserve this. And you cannot be too old, or too young, or too screwed up to accept this gift.
It’s so hard because we want control. We want to do something. To have a say, to in some way earn this. I think it is safe to say that it is something we all struggle with.
I am taking this time to draw attention to how simple the gospel is because I see so many articles and videos flying around with I believe well meaning people who try to complicate it. I love studying theology, I want to understand the Bible as best as I can. But you know what…I will never understand it 100% and that is ok. And there are issues and topics that people come to different interpretations and convictions. I am sure that when my time is done, and my understanding is complete there will be some hypothetical headdesking. And ‘why did I come to that conclusion?’ But, if there is a topic that the Word is not 100% clear on and it is not a salvation issue, I do not believe it is appropriate to treat that fellow believer as if they are completely off their rocker if they come to a different conclusion.
When we were kids, a friend of mine and I would disagree on everything when it came to these non-salvation issues. To this day, whenever we agree on something I am shocked. But as well as I can know with anyone- I believe this friend is a believer. She forced me to question why I did believe what I believed. And my faith is stronger for it.
I know people who only wear skirts and wear their hair long, and I have friends with large tattoos and have sported a pink faux hawk. Some people worship quietly sitting down, and some raise their hands. Some people hymns touch their heart and some rap music. The gospel transcends culture, and time and we need to remember that. Just because someone looks different, or worships different does not mean they are not saved or a ‘lesser’ believer.
(Before I get myself into too much trouble, let me state that I am not denying that there are places that teach a watered down gospel. I am not denying that in the least, but that is not the point of my post today.)
To finish up, next time you read an article or see a video, or hear a podcast that says you must be a certain way—check it against Scripture. Verify that the teacher is preaching 1) the passage in context to the rest of Scripture and 2) not just his own opinion of a passage as truth. If it is his own opinion of a passage that is difficult to understand, do your own homework, research God’s word to see what the interpretation is. And you know what, it is ok to say you don’t know and you want to continue studying before you come to a stand on an issue.
Scripture is to be our standard, not man, whoever the teacher is.