One thing we have to be aware of as Christians is that we often let our culture trickle into our religion. America is known as the land of liberty and freedom–freedom to have it your way with multiple businesses ready to conform to the consumers’ needs. With pampering like that, we are use to moving on to the next product and service whenever we find something distasteful about our current one consequently creating the replacement attitude and discouraging the problem solving and negotiating nature necessary to work things out and come to peace. But of course that is just too much hard work. If we do not make ourselves aware of this tendency we can easily become like the Christians mentions in 2 Timothy chapter 4:
2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
With that said, America has the largest amount of denominations over any other country with 1,500. Talk about have it your way! We have 1,500 ways we can have it as Christians, which is 1,499 more than we need. I have no doubt that some of these are the result of people being “…rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a FORM OF GODLINESS but denying its power” (2 Tim 3:4-5). Some will argue that that denominations are necessary for reaching diverse crowds or necessary because others have interpreted the Bible incorrectly. While this may be true, my question is, “What happened to churches trying to response to these problems and come to peace?” I know what happened, someone stood up and said, “This is America, I don’t have to deal with this! I’ll form my own church. It’s a free country!”
While that might be a dramatic statement, T.S. Elliot does point out in his book Christianity and Culture that “religion may be too easily accommodated to a variety of cultures, and become assimilated without assimilating”. This could not be more evident in our “why tolerate it” and “this isn’t the way we do it” attitudes in the United States. He reveals that divisions may be cause by religious doctrinal difference, but political, social, and economic “doctrines” also play a role in separately associating. Think it doesn’t, then I challenge you to find a church where everyone is of the your opposite political party or one where everyone is a different race or one where all members earn $50,000 less or more than you. Thought twice about that I bet! Bet that even made you think about why your chose your particular church among others of your denomination. Hopefully, some reality was revealed about just how much you love the universal Christian community in contrast to comfort. Newsflash! If you are a comfortable Christian you are not growing. There are farther limits you can push your love. Take up your cross!
I challenge you to take a good look at your doctrines (before you get ready to point fingers at someone else) and ask yourselves if having it your way is really about your beliefs or about God. Because if it is about God, I can tell you that Jesus explicitly states that He wants complete unity among us John 17:23. The only way we can achieve this unity is to dedicate ourselves to loving our brothers and sisters even as we love ourselves instead of antagonizing those who choose to worship differently or attend a separate church from us. When we can show each other true love and desire for God’s will and blessing for everyone, then we can have that “argument” that will be necessary to bring us back to one mind. That can’t happen until we follow the second greatest commandment. When we do, our obedience and love will bring about reunion as intended. So let’s let love renew our minds…or sadly you can continue having it your way only grasping a form of godliness but denying its power. Godliness has the power to unite us all through love if we let it.
Try visiting to the last church you ever step foot in this week. Note if you feel a sense of judgement or compassion.
Are you willing to continue visiting until you feel compassion?
Will you allow yourself to be easily offended and return to comfort?
“Challenging you to be challenged by God”