Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Idols

During this volatile time, it is easy to get caught up in the voracious cycle of bad news about our economy. I have no vegetable garden, fresh water supply, or milk goat to sustain our family, should we spiral into the abyss that some have predicted.

For goodness sakes, I don't even have the ingredients I need for my white chili that I plan on making this afternoon. It's a good thing the folks at Wal-Mart don't know there is a recession, cause they are still lining up in droves over there.

I am reminded during this time, that I still cling very much to the the stuff in this world. My house, my things, our savings, our freedom. Can we just love this one thing a little bit more than you, God?

There is this constant battle, where I go and remove this worldly stuff from the alter, and try once again to shift my focus to the ... one and only ... holy and jealous ... God of the universe.
He commands that we place nothing before Him.

No good thing is good enough. Even when it carries the label of "church".

Scripture is sufficient. All things that man does, including the preaching of Christ crucified, that are used to give glory to God, are still the result of God's sovereignty. Our methods are but the means to an end and often still marred by sin. We could never credit our way to bringing about His will.

So that means that when we do it right, God is given glory.
And when we do it wrong, God is given glory.

He will be glorified.

Now. That truth could never equate to an apathy for sharing the gospel or an indifference to living a life of radical obedience to Christ. John Piper says, "Our costly obedience is the fruit, not the root, of being forgiven."

I am trying to lay a foundation for some future posts, regarding a movement within the church today. At first glance, it appears to have right motives for encouraging family unity through worship and studying of the bible. Through the use of scripture, this method encourages families to worship together and "turning the hearts of father's to their families."

To be clear, I have not one single issue with my family worshipping together. Samuel has been in worship service with us since he was three years old and Benjamin has yet to spend a day in the nursery. Because we met in a school, we were able to bring his stroller in the cafeteria. His schedule was fairly predictable and so we kept him with us during Sunday School, and he would always fall fast asleep when service began. Snuggled up in his stroller, he was content for the following hour. Samuel sat between Chris and I and wrote on a note pad or flipped through his bible. We tried to be deliberate in teaching that this time was to worship God. It was a challenge in the beginning, but got easier as time went on. At previous churches, equipped with adequate nursery facilities, we made good use of the nursery and our children were loved and well-cared for. I am not boasting in either.

It worked for us. It was good for us. We enjoyed it and I would even say that we were blessed by it.

But not once have I ever subscribed to the belief that I was somehow honoring God *more* by this decision. I never believed that having my small children in worship was an integral part of God's plan for the family and that by keeping them with us, I was in greater obedience than my sister in Christ who chose to use the nursery for her little one.

This idea is not scriptural and is proving to be divisive in churches across the nation. The church we visited this past week is doing a series called, Worship Wars. The norm is expository preaching, but they are spending time addressing issues that are threatening to divide this body. Interestingly enough, entirely different issues than the ones I am addressing here.

The pastor, Rich Ryan, says this:

"Worship wars exist because Christians ignore the biblical teachings on corporate worship OR make personal preference equal to scriptural mandate".

Doing something a certain way because it floats your boat is perfectly fine. Just as long as you don't say that God loves it more.

I will do my best to address the core beliefs within this movement. I sincerely welcome comments and conversation as a means to grow and learn as long as our motive is to honor God through that.

4 comments:

gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

This is an issue I myself am concerned about and have been unsure how to address. I currently have two wonderful "mommy" friends who a BIG believers in the family integrated church- for different reasons. One of them says that she and her husband don't believe in youth groups and want to keep their children from spending time with the opposite sex during those years, and especially from spending time with kids who might be in the "formal" school setting (public OR private). I keep silent while she talks because I know that their family has already judged me for not living that way. Should I even comment or just let it be? I don't know and I do try to let people be free to walk with Jesus in the areas that aren't so black and white. What do you think?

Kim said...

Lydia-

I completely agree with you. In these areas that are not black & white, I think scripture is clear to allow for liberties, especially in those dealing with our own families and how we worship.

But that works both ways.

When Christians use scripture to support their belief that this decision is more honoring to God or "God's way" for families to worship I think it borders on false-teaching and a man-centered view of church.

I too have seen the chastisement over segregation for Sunday School and even men's or women's bible studies.

Through the use of scripture where children are present during worship or teaching, the FIM argues that children should always be present.

By the lack of scripture where children are segregated for teaching, the FIM argues that children should never be segregated by age.

In keeping with human nature, can you imagine all of the scenarios that this type of pick and choose legalism could invoke?

The church must use extreme caution when making absolutes out of personal preference.

Thank you so much for your comment! I was beginning to wonder if I was in the twilight zone out here in VA and no one else was dealing with this ;)

Blessings Lydia.

Jenn said...

You're not in the twilight zone... Division and separation always occurs when people elevate their personal preference over Scripture...

Christina said...

It's here on the West Coast too. Just maybe not as prominent. I'm interested in your thoughts on it all.

I think you're right about elevating personal preferences and thinking yourself more spiritual because of certain practices. That is a danger.

I've been drawn to FIM because I see families involved that are committed to the church, God's word, and family. On the flip side, the church we left was so segregated, so MTV in it's approach, so worldly, really, that we knew that we didn't want to be there or be like that. (And it was not like that when we joined 13 years ago.)

The church we go to now has a youth group and Sunday school. But the family stays together for the singing and prayer time. I really like that, but again, it's just a preference. We keep Emily with us for the whole service, but our older two go to Sunday School. So we're a little split even within our family! I love having Emily with us and nobody minds her staying. But I can tell that some people think we're "better" (and it's hard not to even sinfully feel that way sometimes) because our three year old sits quietly in church. And in reality, she just wanted to stay on my lap and I didn't want to miss the sermon to make her "adjust" to Sunday School. Nothing super spiritual about it!