Several years ago when serving as the Senior Pastor of a local congregation, one of the members of the church offered to babysit our children while Debra and I took a much-needed night off. We enjoyed the evening together and actually felt the stress of being a pastor fade…that was until we returned home.
Upon entrance into the living room, we noticed something had changed. Well, it wasn’t just “something” that changed but the arrangement of the entire living room. The sofa and chairs were moved, the entertainment center was moved and even the pictures on the wall had been rearranged.
It seems that the “blessed sister” of the congregation, while babysitting our children took it upon herself to change everything in our home. Now, I know the house belonged to the church because it was a parsonage, but their house was our home. I couldn’t believe my eyes, but more than that, I couldn’t believe the audacity this church member had to come into our home and turn it upside down.
I’m sure she liked the new arrangement better, or else she wouldn’t have changed it from the way it was. You see, her personal taste was a WHOLE LOT different than ours, and she just knew we would like it better the way she wanted.
As I was studying this morning, I recalled the whole affair and actually had to “check” my spirit to keep from getting angry all over again. Angry you say? Yes, absolutely…I was livid because this woman took it on herself to come in and rearrange my house.
This story then took a “spiritual” turn when I realized that as unthinkable as this was, it is no where near as despicable as people coming into God’s House and rearranging things to suit their own taste, instead of that of our heavenly Father. You might say, “well, Brother McKinley, how do you see the comparison in your rude church member with that of God?” Well, I’m glad you asked.
Have we ever been guilty of throwing together programs, plans and protocols that have been the opposite of God’s design? Absolutely, we all know someone who claims that God speaks to them on a regular basis, and that when He speaks to them, everyone else is supposed to start rearranging things to the alleged prophet’s taste, only to suddenly lift our heads up and realize that we tried to “change’” things to the detriment of our souls, and more importantly of everyone else around us. When this happens, God removes His favor and churches die.
When I study the New Testament design of the church I find a lot that doesn’t seem to line up with the Master of the House’s original design. I see creeds, traditions and convenience rushing us through our church services, and causing deep spiritual hurts that take years (if ever) to recover.
Here are only a few of my initial thoughts…
1. We are more committed to our we “always do things” than we are to the Scripture for our rule of faith, government, doctrine and discipline…yes, I said discipline.
2. We measure the success of a minister or church based on worldly standards instead of Scriptural standards. We think if it’s bigger, and more exciting than the church down the street we are being successful. The truth is…modern marketing standards have replaced Biblical standards of holiness, an in so d0ing we turn ministers into CEO’s and marketing managers.
3. We seem to be growing by leaps and bounds in many places, but along with the growth comes a certain sense of insecurity and fear that is the result of a “man-centered” philosophy of ministry than a “God-centered” theology.
4. Too many of us become polarized rather than unified by the Love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. When is the last time someone called you one of those names?
For me it was just this last week. Someone said, “you are a liberal,” (although the word he might have been looking for was “libertine”) in an attempt to win an argument based on their totally unscriptural view of the church. I didn’t have the heart to tell the dear soul that someone had called me a “conservative” just the week before because I didn’t agree with that person either.
When I tried to explain my own philosophy as that of Augustine (In ESSENTIALS unity, in NON-ESSENTIALS liberty, but in ALL THIINGS charity), which has been tempered by my years of study of not only Scripture but also as an observer of human behavior, I was rejected as a legalistic heretic. How odd.
CONCLUSION: I am simply saying that as we continue to travel on our Christian journey of faith, and as we try to BE the community of Christ, let’s stop rearranging things (for whatever reason) and return to God’s plan…where is it? In the pages of God’s preserved will for mankind…the Bible.