Sometimes our Christianity is farraginous, rather than "pure religion and undefiled." MW's Word of the Day spotlights what religious scholars call syncretism. When we mix faith, surrounding culture, upbringing, and worldview into our understanding of the Bible, we get a hodge-podge that looks plain weird to outsiders. And to some insiders, too. Really,
- Who wants to dress like the 1950s to go to a meeting with other people dressed like the 50s?
- Who wants to sing pop tunes with lyrics that repeat banal sentiments over and over? (If you can swap in "Oh, Baby!" without a quiver, it's probably not great worship music.)
- Anyone want to sit in wooden or padded rows for a weekly concert and lecture, year after year? (This Reformation custom from the C16 endures.)
I've been examining my own faith over the past decade. So have many of my peers. And we're uncomfortable with church as status quo. We're wondering, "While we're busy at choir practice and baking cookies for small friendship groups, are we overlooking Jesus' care for the orphan and widow in their distress?"
Do we blithely pass by those in need, forgetting even a sympathetic prayer for neighbors in financial crises or experiencing family trauma. Forget about a personal visit, dropping off a meal, or asking when we meet at the mailbox, "How are you doing?" More than a cursory involvement might make us miss our routines of "church" activities.
Here are the questions I'm asking myself. "Rosemarie,
- What parts of my faith are based on the Bible? What parts come from my assumptions or my reading into the text with personal hopes and aspirations?
- How have I served those Jesus would serve if he lived at my house? (For that matter, how comfortable would Jesus be, using my house as his base of ministry?)
- How would Jesus and the early Church take care of family and nurture spiritual maturity in those they love?
- How many of my neighbors are close friends, or are my best friends from church circles?"
However, I'm getting up again today, asking for forgiveness. I need supernatural grace to be and do, trying to live in alignment with Christ's lordship. He compels his servants to integrity, but there are a lot of areas that are incongruous in my nature and lifestyle. Maybe you find the same is true of you.
How loving is our God, who is both merciful and constant! This morning offers us another opportunity to please him in thought, attitude, and action. Let's seize the day.
*Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139: 7-10 NLT
*“I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God.” Isaiah 43:11-12 NIV
*Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11 NIV