Pastor’s Paragraphs

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews  13:8

The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of God remains forever. Isaiah 40:8

I had the most interesting conversation with a friend of mine from college. He has been on a journey re-evaluating the church and what he believes. It has led him to a point that he does not believe in God anymore. He is the son of a Baptist Preacher.

He said, “I realized that the God that I believed in when I was a child is not the God of today.” My friend was in a church that had lost focus of its mission.  Jesus gave us the mission when He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have command you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My friend would go to Sunday school and hear more talking about politics than he did Jesus, or combining Jesus with politics. His politics were different from the majority of his church. They would spend half the time talking sports or discussing things about the church that they did not like. His church was doing good things but it was usually things for their own edification. It was rarely for someone else.

So he finally gave up. He was questioning his faith and was disillusioned with the church. He needed answers to some of his life problems, but the people were more interested in talking about things that were not part of the Great Commission.

I told him, “Joe, the God of your childhood is the One True God. We have changed Him to fit our culture and our wants.” God is still the God of love. His command to love Him and love our neighbor has not changed. He is still Holy and Just, Righteous and Merciful. He still loves us with an everlasting love.”

I asked him if he remembered the first time his parents allowed him to wear blue jeans to church on Sunday night. He laughed and said it was a big deal. I asked him if his mom remembered the first time she wore pants to church. It was high treason to wear pants to church. I told him that I was appalled the first time my son wanted to wear shorts to Sunday School. How about people bringing coffee & sodas in the sanctuary? (Still getting used to that one…ha)

But these things are minor things. They don’t matter. What does it matter if we dress right, talk right, vote correctly or are the most involved person in the community if we don’t love others and  don’t make disciples, we have lost sight of our mission. 

While I was on the mission trip to Switzerland, I met a Brazilian Pastor serving in Germany. He was leading a multi ethnic church made up of multiple cultures from around the world. He told me that in his church He had a group of feuding cultures. One said that you had to be barefooted in church and to lead prayer. The other group said that is was disrespectful to God if you were in church barefooted especially in the pulpit area. He said, “I came up with the two hands rule. One hand I hold as a fist. These are things that are not debatable. Things like the virgin birth, how a person is saved or the attributes of God. The other hand is open. They are things that do not matter. Things like wearing shoes or hats in church. Things related to how we dress or if we pray standing or sitting. If you drink coffee in church or if you think that the sanctuary is something that it is not. All those lead to arguments and are not based on scripture. They are not set in stone.” He said that is how he brought about peace in a torn congregation. They had to get back to the Great Commission and make Disciples in a lost culture.

My take away thought for us is, “What is most important in our church?” Is it how we dress? If we are affiliated with the correct political party, or is reaching lost people and discipling them to be committed followers of Christ most important?

My friend Joe lives in New York, but that same story is also true for some of us. The God of our childhood has not changed. 

Brother Greg

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