Thursday, March 04, 2010


It's Important

Todd at MMI is wondering about people that take things too seriously or not seriously enough. In trying to tell which is which he concludes:
Here's one way that I try to discern what I need to be serious about: Was Jesus serious about it?

I mean... what was Jesus serious about? Because that's what I want to be serious about.

Saving the lost? Yep. Carpet color or worship style? No. Making disciples? Yes. Arguing about money or service times? Not so much.
Fair enough as far as it goes, but a lot hinges on what saves the lost and builds disciples. For example, worship styles are not quite as trivial as we think. Some worship styles can fail to call us forward into discipleship. And more importantly, is there salvation without discipleship? Scot McKnight wrote about "the problem of hell" for Christians. He says that believing in an eternal hell creates a "justice problem" for a loving God. Well, there is a justice problem in a God that grants salvation in the absence of any serious effort to change too.

My point is that the distinctions Todd is making are not as clear cut as they might appear at first glance. Bottom line is, everything should be taken seriously. Todd's issue is not about what we take seriously or not, but how we handle and deal with what we take seriously.

Between nations there are serious issues worth going to war about (just war) and some that must be handled diplomatically. Both are equally serious, but the cost of settling them in various fashions must be weighed. So it is in the church.

Service times for example are indeed a serious issue. The families in the church build their Sunday lives around those times. In some cases they have been doing it for decades. To change the times causes enormous disruption for them. Everything from work schedules to meal times for infirmed parents can be affected. It is not trivial. To say it is "not serious" grossly minimizes those profound and problematic effects for those families.

That said, is such a thing worth a church civil war? Probably not, and yet it happens. One must wonder why. Frankly the attitude that it is "trivial" is the source of such civil war. When you minimize those real and painful effects on people, you wound them in ways that is worth civil war. This is particularly true with people that have been a part of and served the church for long periods of time. They rightfully feel a sense of connection to the church that raises the trivialization of their concerns to the level of personal betrayal.

Even if people do not start a civil war over such betrayal - word gets around. Temporary gains that results from the actions that resulted in the pain usually disappear in the longer term as people find out that the church is increasingly willing to step on people's feelings in such a way.

That does not mean a church does not change service times, but it does mean the church has to learn how to do so in a way that allows for the relationships to be upheld. It requires enormous time and energy, and the boundless resource of love that only the Holy Spirit can provide.

I wonder what would happen if a church's first concern when making such "trivial" changes was how to minister to the disgruntled? I wonder if the love of Christ might not be seen in a light that really changed the neighborhood?

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