For most Baptist Christians, the battle cry goes something like this… “WE DO EVERYTHING by the Word of God! The New Testament is our guide for faith and practice! We live… and die… by this Book!” To which I would pose the question… “Really”?
Now before you say the word (heretic) think about my question. If you honestly spend time searching God’s Word for most of the common practices in conventional churches you will rarely find any of them. In fact, if you spend time tracing the history of most of our practices, you will soon discover that most of our religious habits are man-made choices. In fact, you’re likely to discern a pattern about the way that we “do things” in the church these days: If we do it, it’s probably not in the Bible as one of the practices of the early church.1
The truth is that MOST of what we do and call “church” has no precedent in Scripture, but has rather been brought in from culture. This in and of itself doesn’t make our practices wrong, but we must discerningly sort out those cultural influences that contribute to the integrity of Christian worship from those that detract from it.2 Our goal must be to be true to HIS plan so that we may become the people He desires us to be and that the church may be all she is called to be.
So what should we take away from this?
1. We should admit that much of what we have come to value as “the church” may not be all that important. Let’s be honest… much of what we value in our “church” is more about our comfort and care than about God’s cause and commands.
2. We should expect spiritual transformation (discipleship) to be occurring in our lives and in the lives of those we fellowship with. Being together (church) is not about membership and service to members, but rather it is about serving Christ (doing what matters to Him) together and becoming more like him in the process.
3. We should realize that most, if not all, of the excuses some church members use for not gathering/serving have very little, if any Biblical precedent. Every person who has surrendered to Christ follows Christ. The term “inactive member” is an oxymoron and cannot be found in God’s Word. If a person is walking with Christ, he/she WILL gather with a group of believers somewhere on a regular basis… whether things (without biblical precedent) go his/her way or not.
If we are going to say, “We live by the Book!” let’s make sure our walking matches are talking and that what we are saying is indeed in the Book.
1. Frank Viloa, Pagan Christianity?
2. Frank Senn, Christian Worship and Its Cultural Setting
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