A Bit of Controversy to Start Your Week

I’ve got something that’s been sticking in my craw lately – something that I’m sure is going to offend some people and maybe give some others something to think about. But it’s been really upsetting me, so what better venue to talk about what *I* think than my own blog.

The Body of Christ.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:1-9

I have found myself quite annoyed with the Body of Christ (Christian believers – the church, for those of you not familiar with the term) lately. I have been experiencing & reading more than I care to of Bible-believing Christians attacking & tearing down their brothers & sisters in the name of what they believe to be “right” and “false”. Before I get too much into this, I want to say that I am no theologian. I am not terrifically well-versed in all the nuances of Scripture nor do I claim to be an expert on anything. However, I am a member of the Body of Christ and, being so, I have to speak what is on my heart regarding this. It seems that everywhere I turn, in my real church life, on the web, on blogs, in books, etc, I’m seeing an awful lot of Christians tearing down other Christians. Declaring that their way of doing things is the “right” way and churches who are trying things a different way are leading people astray. Quick aside – I am NOT in any way, shape or form, defending false teachings, false doctrine, or the watering down of the message of Christ. There is only ONE message of salvation & it needs to be taught every time you step foot in a church. I’m not defending the “prosperity gospel” or “be a good person” or anything other than “Jesus Christ died for your sins & by believing in Him and only Him – completely apart from the works you do – you can have salvation.” What I’m talking about really boils down to personal preference, IMO.

Right now there is a HUGE rebellion against what are called “seeker churches”. Churches whose #1 priority is bringing people through the doors so that the gospel message can be presented to them. People who would not think of setting foot in a “traditional” church. People who really don’t know anything about God or Jesus – other than what they’re told from a worldly perspective. The objective of these churches is to reach the lost, the unchurched, people who have not been reached for Christ. These churches are usually “megachurches” – churches who have thousands of members – and in response to the many, many people who attend, they have developed “programming”. Well-produced worship services with professional-quality music & drama, multimedia presentations, and more programs than you can shake a stick at. Usually, these churches offer a large number of services tailored to different “demographics” – new Christians, seekers, people wishing to delve deeper; as well as different style of musical worship – traditional, contemporary, more rock & roll, some even offer cultural services – in Spanish with Latin-style music, etc. Then there are tons of programs like basketball teams, small groups, support groups – pretty much anything you’re looking for. The problem people are having is, I believe, a somewhat valid one. They are concerned that in the process of developing, maintaining & growing all these programs, the message of Christ is getting watered down or eliminated completely. If this is the case, I would agree with them. Since I don’t GO to any of these churches and I don’t hear the messages being preached, I don’t know. And, I’ll venture to say that most of the people complaining haven’t been to a service or heard what’s being preached there, either.

I am a firm believer that if the leadership of a church is not consciously & vehemently leading their congregation to heaven (according to what the Bible teaches), they are leading them to hell. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that you can get to heaven by being a good person or doing good things for other people or praying certain prayers or worshipping anything other than God through Jesus Christ. And it certainly doesn’t say anything about coming into material weath & possessions if you’re “spiritual” enough. Any of that is false teaching. However, I do not believe that offering differing style of worship (all with the same Biblical, Christ-based message) is a problem. This is completely separate from the preaching & falls under “personal preference”, IMO.

For example, I could not belong to a church where the music consisted solely of hymns sung to an organ accompaniment. That does not speak to my soul. I need worship that’s more like the popular Praise & Worship movement that’s going on – Passion, Chris Tomlin, Third Day, Hillsongs. This and similar kinds of music make my soul sing – make me want to dance before the Lord. This is how my soul cries out to Him. Does my preference for this kind of music make me less spiritual than those who prefer the great old hymns of the church? Some think it does. Some think there is only one way to worship and it’s their way. And they are willing to tear down churches, ministries and people over it. This is what I’m having a problem with. As the Body of Christ, we’re supposed to be working TOGETHER to further God’s Kingdom.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says,

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

In fact, I feel the need to share the rest of this chapter:

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire[e] the greater gifts.”

What these verses say to me regarding this issue is this: Each one of us is a different cell of the Body of Christ. Each one of us has been given by our Creator different gifts, different skills, different passions. Each one of us has a purpose. By one cell saying to another cell, “Your gifts & passions are not Godly”, are we working together? I’m not saying that each cell should be able to do it’s own thing, but like Scripture said above, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” So. God gave me a gift for singing & exhortation. He gave me a passion for honest, expressive worship that manifests itself in what I call “whole-body worship”. (Don’t worry – I’m not flailing on the floor or anything – I just don’t stand stock still & sing) As long as I’m not doing anything to interfere with the workings of the Body, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m not unGodly. But there are some out there that would tell me that my way of expressing my worship is not the “correct” way. Maybe it’s not….FOR THEM. My way of expressing my worship isn’t right for everyone. AND THAT’S OKAY. I don’t judge anyone who prefers to be in a church that’s more ritualistic and traditional. That’s their preference. Just don’t force me to go there.

I guess what’s got me so up in arms is that we are supposed to be edifying each other – building one another up – not tearing one another down. Yes, we’re supposed to call sin what it is, but preferring Hawaiian-themed worship music is NOT SINFUL. It is not unspiritual. A church that offers 14 services – all with different music styles, but the same Biblical message of Christ’s salvation IS NOT SINFUL. A church offering one service with organ music and choir music only IS NOT SINFUL. It’s all just preference. If it’s not what you want – find another church. Stop attacking each other. Stop attacking people & their ministries over this stuff. We can all find Scripture that supports our view of what’s “right” – but I can’t find any Scripture that supports tearing people & ministries apart over music styles or programs. Let’s concentrate on what really matters, okay? Helping people find the saving grace of Christ. Standing firm in His message in a world that’s becoming less focused on Him every day.

I read a blog that attacked the Todd Agnew song, “My Jesus” recently. I have to say I was upset to read this, because this was one of the first songs since Keith Green’s music that really challenged me. How do you view Jesus? Are you focusing on the things Jesus SAID were important?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul & strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.” “I am the Way, the Truth and the Light. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Are you reaching out to the people who most need Him or are you comfortable in your pew with your family? Are you bringing the Good News to places that are darkest? These are the kinds of things that Christ taught. I cannot find any Scripture that says, “Worship me only with sacred hymns, Sunday service and stoic singing.” He died for our SINS. He died because He loves us so desperately. He died because He wants us to know Him. He died for His Body – not only for the 1st Christian Church of Anywhere, USA. I am now putting on my flame-retardant sweats because I’m sure I’m gonna get some attacks on this one.