Jump Start # 2458
Romans 14:20 “Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense.”
One of the difficult things to comes to terms with in our walk with God is understanding that God ‘s word allows different judgments or we might call them opinions in the fulfilling of what God says. This is hard for some to understand. “We do all things according to the Bible,” is a true statement, but built within that are some judgments that God allows.
For instance, we are to worship the Lord on Sunday. The early Christians did that. We follow that example. You are not going to get many Christians differing with you on that. However, what God did not say, is that every congregation should begin their services at 9:30 Sunday morning. That is not in the Bible. Some do. Some don’t. Some start services with a prayer. Some start with a song. Some start with opening announcements. Some have Bible classes first on Sunday morning. Some begin with worship and then they have Bible classes. So do not have Bible classes on Sunday morning. They have it Sunday evening. Some congregations take up a collection right after the Lord’s Supper. Some put a song in between. Some move the collection to different parts of the worship. Some call the leaders “elders.” Some call them “shepherds.” A few will call them “pastors.” Put all of this in a pot and stir it around a bit, and technically we are all following the Bible and doing God’s will, but for different reasons, we don’t follow the exact same order in worship. The reason being is that there is no exact same order given in the Bible.
And, there are other things. How one baptizes a person. The structure of Bible classes. How a person is disciplined. Who cleans the church building. Who cuts the lawn around the church building. How often is the preacher paid. How long Gospel meetings are conducted. How often the elders and deacons meet. Do elders and deacons meet at all? How often do the elders meet? The list seems to go on and on.
Now, most times all of this works fine. The problems arise is when someone visits our congregation or we visit another congregation and we see things differently than back home. We see things that we are not used to. And, immediately we say, “Oh, I don’t like that.” Or, worse, “I don’t think they are right.” And, that begins a skirmish that can lead to a all out battle over the way things are supposed to be done. And, the problem with all of this is that there is no one way that things are supposed to be done. God allows our judgment, or call it opinion, to execute His will.
Now, here are a few thoughts on this:
First, what is done must be Biblical. If there is no principle, or, command, then there is no judgment that can follow. The command to assemble implies somewhere. Where are we going to meet for worship? My house? Your house? Rent a place? Buy a place? Build a place? It could be yes to all of those things. But buying a theme park is out of the question. A theme park doesn’t execute any command or principle that the church is to follow. What we do must fit with the Bible.
Second, for the sake of unity, consideration of the people must be considered. If I had it my way, we’d start Sunday worship around 6 AM. It’s Sunday—let’s get at it. But I expect I’d be about the only one there if we did that. Young families, senior citizens, traffic, distance—all of that must be considered when thinking about starting time. It’s like family dinner time at home. You have to work with what you have. Some have a set time to eat. Others, it’s based upon the day. It changes all the time. It is possible to change locations and even starting times for worship week to week, but most would find that confusing and it would be hard to attract visitors. There is something about consistency. The unit, the congregation, must be taken into thought when planning meetings, classes and things in which the leaders expect the members to be there.
Third, to function as a congregation, I must be a team player. This is where the trouble often arises. I don’t like the way things are done. I want different times for worship. I want different ways of doing the Lord’s Supper. I want different ways of making announcements. I want things differently.
A person must come to terms with the fact that if something is not “wrong” Biblically, then it is a matter of judgment or opinion. When a person becomes part of a congregation, he comes in understanding that this is the way that congregation does things. If he doesn’t like what he sees, then he should not be a part of it. It’s one thing to share ideas with the leaders, but to try to change them because I don’t like the way they do things, is not being a team player. So, this means that there may be some things done in worship that I’d do differently, if I had my way. If what we are currently doing is just one of many ways to fulfill God’s command, then I need to be a team player and go along with that. The church is not one and the church certainly isn’t me. And, when I start raising a fuss because things are not the way I would like them to be, I become a problem. The way things are done is not the problem, I am, because I am demonstrating that I am not in unity.
Our verse, taken from the chapter about eating meats, reminds us that even something that is right, can be wrong if my spirit, attitude and lack of cooperation is not in the spirit of Jesus. Eating meats was not wrong. But eating meats could be wrong if the guy doing it became a problem.
Don’t use the worship hour to push agendas, introduce change, or to do new things, especially without the approval of the elders. What is accomplished is a bunch of upset people and ruined worship because the attention was taken off of the Lord and focus was upon the “New Way” of doing things. Don’t be slick. Don’t be sly. Don’t do things under the radar. And, don’t pout and throw a fit if the elders do not approve of your idea of a new way to do things. Some can be so focused and excited about being different, that they have forgotten about the people. The Lord first. The people second. Don’t forget that.
Each congregation has it’s own flavor, spirit and feel to it. It’s like each home I visit. Some homes are very formal. Take your shoes off at the door. There are so many towels in the bathroom, you don’t know which one to use. Other homes are really laidback. Newspapers, toys and stuff are on the couches. Put your feet up on the coffee table, make yourself at home, feel to it. Congregations are just like that. Some seem very formal. Some seem very informal. Some start exactly at the hour they are supposed to. Some will get around to it sooner or later. Some will have people calling out announcements from the audience. Some would never do that.
Right, wrong, it’s a matter of judgment. Don’t crush the people of God over a judgment call. Don’t split churches over opinions. Don’t be so selfish. Don’t accuse others of being unscriptural when they are not.
My neighbor and I sure mow our yards differently. He leaves lumps of cut grass and he flies as fast as he can. Mine is manicured. Straight lines. No lumps. Beautiful. Is he wrong for the way he mows his yard? No. he probably has more important things to do than sit on a mower. Different emphasis. Our yards are mowed. Does his yard bug me? Nope. Would I do it differently? Yep. I don’t let the way he does things impact me. And, that helps me when it comes to opinions and judgments in congregations.