Recently, I watched a video about a vacationing couple who were doing their best to honor God (on the Lord’s Day) by finding a church to attend. The entire video was the couple driving around to the many (and various) churches in town, and about the “good” reasons why they could not possibly attend each and every one.
The video was intended to be humorous (and it was!) but it points out something that is becoming deeply embedded within most Christians’ minds.
We are becoming quite adept at dissecting and criticizing believers we have never met… just because of a church sign (or what we think that sign represents). The “label” over the door immediately suggests why we would not belong, or enjoy, or be comfortable worshiping God with anyone who might be even slightly different from our point of view.
This leads me to some observations about some real problems in today’s believers…
One) It is easy to start seeing church from a consumer mentality. We go to church because of what WE get out of it – and if we stop getting what we think we need, we will find somewhere else that will cater to our “needs” – or we will stop going altogether (and feel justified in our choice).
At the heart of this mindset is the thinking: “Church exists to help ME… and if it isn’t helping ME then it’s a “bad” church.” This is a consumer mentality… “Use it. Then, lose it!”
Two) It is easy to start judging churches because their different point of view doesn’t appeal to ME. Let’s face it… different churches have different worship styles, different rituals, different ways of praying, different church structures, and different points of emphasis. But for the most part, every one of these churches is just trying to love and worship God in a way that is meaningful to them. Just because WE would never do it that way… doesn’t mean they are wrong.
Last time I checked (and I check often) the Bible seems to be saying that God is looking into our hearts. It is our hearts that He is seeking. The externals (that are often so important to us) matter little to Him. What matters is a heart that is seeking to please and honor Him – and there are more ways to do that than we often realize.
Besides, God tends to really frown on this whole judging others thing.
Three) Major rejection… over minor issues. Many Christians are experts at “throwing out babies with the bath water.” In other words, we are almost looking for something (with which we disagree) so we can summarily reject a particular denomination or church group. If one minor thing seems even slightly askew – we “throw out” that whole group. Permanently!
For example, I once had a friend tell me that he could no longer “have fellowship” with me because I didn’t believe what he believed about the Lord’s Supper (The Eucharist). It didn’t matter that I regularly celebrated the Lord’s Supper (as decreed by our Lord) – I didn’t do it the right way (his way!) so we could no longer be “brothers in Christ” for that reason.
Babies and bathwater… both thrown out.
Are there any solutions to these disturbing problems? YES!
Over the next few days, we will look at how to approach these issues – because the way we so often judge and condemn churches is no laughing matter…