I’ve been a believer for a number of years, and I’ve been blessed to be a part of many kinds of churches and groups, some very conservative and some on the contemporary side. Looking back on those experiences, I probably remember the people and the relationships more than anything–some great and some not so great.
But that’s really the crux of church–isn’t it? The people. The relationships. And being imperfect as we are we often miss the grand goal of the Church–being the pure bride of Christ. Let’s admit it: people do mess things up. Even better — I mess things up! And it’s just my opinion, but don’t we tend to complicate things when we focus primarily on the hows? How we do worship. How we sing songs. How we conduct church services. How we do Bible study or small group.
That’s not to say some of the hows are unimportant and that anything goes, but aren’t the whats—the end results–what we are striving for? Here are a few scriptures that help us sift through the complications of institutional thinking, denominational skirmishes and doctrinal arguments:
Love. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that we are nothing without love. Ask: Am I becoming a more loving person?
Growth. 2 Peter 3:18. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ask: Is this church or small group helping me to grow spiritually and closer to my Lord?
Wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 teaches us to pursue wisdom. Not just more Bible knowledge. But how does all this knowledge help me live a better life, a life pleasing to God? Ask: Am I really applying what I’m learning at church and in my Sunday School? Am I changing?
Glorifying God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us to glorify God in all we do. Seems like a tall order, but if we can accept it this will bring us the greatest joy. Ask: Am I glorifying God in my church and my relationships?
Joy. Psalm 16:11 states that in God’s presence is fulness of joy. We also read that the joy of The Lord is our strength. It’s not selfish for us to want joy in our lives. Ask: Am I missing God’s joy in my life?
Encouragement. Hebrews 3:13 beseeches us to encourage one another. Ask: Am I encouraging others? Am I being encouraged?
Accountability. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 encourages us to build each other up. We help each other aspire to God’s best and live up to God’s standards. Ask: Is my church group building me up or tearing me down? Am I building others up?
I could go on. But notice that scripture doesn’t always tell us how to do things. Maybe God does it that way because He knows that culture will change. Technology will change. We are a diverse people. We are a creative people. I don’t know.
I do know that it’s okay for us to be different. It’s okay for us to respectively disagree with each other. Note that God calls us to unity and NOT uniformity. Unity focuses on the whats. Uniformity focuses on the hows. The whats are timeless.
How about you? Feel free to share other whats that you believe are important. And it’s okay–you can respectively disagree with me.