This is just my opinion, but it seems that too many people spend a lot of time stuck in the “Good Ol’ Days.” There is something about nostalgia that makes the other side of the fence called time, look so appealing. For some, it seems, to do something “new” in church is heretical. Because of the trend in many churches to enjoy contemporary worship, this “new” stuff is unacceptable.
I really don’t remember the 1800‘s (though my children don’t believe I wasn’t living at that time), but I’ve heard stories that when the traditional hymns that are sung in many churches were written, they were considered heretical because some were based on popular tunes of the day. Now they’re considered old fashioned and out of date. For some reason, recently arranged choruses are wrong because they’re . . . well, they’re just wrong. Never mind that the lyrics are inspired by scripture, if not actually scripture put to music.
And even those who worship with a celebrative style might be found stuck in “the way we’ve always done it,” even though “always” might only be a few years. We all seem to have our golden moments, habits and traditions that we hold dear to our hearts. That’s because the way we each worship and serve God is the “right” way, isn’t it? I mean, after all, if we didn’t think it was right, we wouldn’t be doing it the way we do. And of course, that makes it right for everyone else, too, doesn’t it?
This was brought to mind as I was preparing the Bible study for my class this Sunday. The passage that was the springboard for study was Luke 13:10-17. You may remember that it was a story of Jesus teaching in a synagogue and He healed a woman who’d been bent over, unable to stand up straight, for 18 years. That was a good thing, but the synagogue leader criticized Jesus and berated the crowd for seeing this as a good thing. Here a woman is healed, but it broke tradition — something that was not to be done on the Sabbath. Can you believe the gall that Jesus had in doing such a horrible thing!? In Luke 14:1ff, He ran into a similar conflict when He healed a man with edema on the sabbath. He then challenged the Pharisees about whether they would pull a donkey or ox from a well on the sabbath, but complain about him healing on that day of the week.
Now, here’s the tricky part . . . don’t we do the same kind of thing to each other about religion, today? I’ve heard way too many people excuse themselves from organized worship of any kind because “religion to too institutionalized.” That complaint is frequently accompanied by stories of being told by parents or fussy old church members that they didn’t follow the rules involved in being in a place of worship. Those old fogies seemed to be caught up more in the “way we’ve always done it” (AKA the “right way”), than being concerned about the connection that each person needs to establish with God in order to enjoy the relationship with the Creator that is the desired result.
All of this brings me to these thoughts:
- Be focused on yourself — I’m not suggesting or encouraging self-centeredness. I’m suggesting that we all need to take care of getting the beam out of our own eye. Let the other fella take care of the speck in his eye.
- Observe others through God’s eyes — Wouldn’t it be a wonderful perspective to work on developing a God’s eye view of others? And relieve a lot of anger, in the process.
- Celebrate God’s creativity — Why does different have to be “wrong?” Maybe it’s just . . . different.
- Allow uniqueness –It’s very easy for each one of us to decide “my way is the right way.” Indeed, it is the right way for me! Accept the fact that God made us unique and He did it for a reason.
- Worship — If we’ll all keep our eyes on Jesus, we won’t notice the irritating things others are doing. Let’s just let that be between that person and God and focus ourselves on celebrating God’s presence in all we do. Isn’t that real worship? (James 1:2727)
I know this doesn’t fix everything. It just seemed to be a good reminder that we all need. I think I probably needed to write about it more for myself than for anyone else. And still, I hope you’ll consider it an encouragement to not be stuck in what’s “right” because it’s what you remember or practice. Maybe you’ll be buoyed with the thought that we are all different and what each holds dear may not fit the other people you encounter. Be assured, if someone is doing something wrong, God is more than capable of handling His relationship with that person!