Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Jesus or Personal Preference?

Hebrews 12:1-2 - Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.

After years of ministering in a wide variety of situations, I have observed that the initial environment in which a person comes to faith often remains their primary preferred religious experience. For example, I have a friend who came to faith in a house church. He was drawn to the close knit fellowship and the sense of family. Though he no longer attends a house church, he is still active in a small congregation that has a close knit family atmosphere. At least one time since I have known him, he switched churches because the church he was active in got too big. I have several friends who came to know the Lord during the Jesus Movement. That movement was known for its distrust of organized religion and its appreciation for a more organic approach to faith. That movement also preferred folk music. Most of my friends who came to know Christ in that movement still prefer a folk sound in their worship. They often refuse to officially join a church even though they may attend it for years and be very active in it. Then there is an older couple I know that came to faith in a highly structured church that used a strong liturgy. Though they have changed denominations because the church they grew up in has abandoned biblical theology, they have sought out a church that recites the Lord’s Prayer every week and celebrates communion at most services. In their minds, it just is not church if a service does not include those things.

In each case, my friends have remained in the same environment in which they came to faith. Though this was often not the church of their childhood, it normally is the church in which they found real faith in Christ. Those early days of Christian discipleship are important in forming our spiritual DNA. And when various groups come together for a larger worship experience, they bring these aspects of faith with them.

I am enriched by seeing all the various ways in which people can worship and still relate to one another as Christians. Though the Gospel never changes and biblical truth is the same for all, the various aspects of church, such as liturgy, music style, or local church polity, are different. Instead of being fearful of those differences, we should celebrate them. The person who prefers the high church can learn something from the close knit house church. The house church can learn something from the liturgical church. The 60-year-old Christian hippie can teach something to the 20-year-old Christian hipster, and the hipster can teach something to the 60-year-old man at church who still sports a pony tail.

If we keep our focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and if we keep our teaching based on the Bible instead of man-made distinctives, we can worship, fellowship, and serve with those who look at things from a different perspective and be enriched by it.

Lord, help us keep our eyes on You and learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ who approach spirituality in different ways than we do. Amen.

This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:

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