I know full well that what I'm about to write will be frustrating to some. I don't mean to be indicting or judgemental here, but I do want to express a frustration. When you contemplate Christianity and Discipleship, what comes to mind? When you ponder what this whole following Jesus is about, where do your thoughts take you? When you boil down all the things that the church should be, what is left at the center as most important?
I truly love my job. I love working with teens and their families. I love serving as a minister inside the church...on most days. However, there are times I would be willing to do any other job. That's probably an overstatement, but I have definitely said that out loud before without fully thinking it through. I have devoted my life to knowing my God and following his will. I have offered my life back to God to use me in any way he sees fit, and it seems pretty obvious to me that for the time being that I am supposed to be at Broadway.
Forgive me if this is not where you saw this thought going, but there are parts of me that really struggle being proud of my heritage in the Church of Christ. I know full well that this struggle may be generational. I know full well that this struggle may be a "me" problem, and I am willing to work through this. Many of the most influential people in my life have been "die-hard" Church of Christ. They have blessed me in transformational ways that I will never full be able to thank them for.
Over the past two weeks, I have been in some very discouraging conversations. These conversations have been centered upon women's role in the church, instrumental music, baptism, and communion. I don't have time to go into all of these thoughts. If you'd like to know what I think, let's grab some coffee. However, what drives me crazy, what makes me want to scream, is this attitude of being right. In each of these five or six conversations I've been apart of, I have felt an attitude saying that we are right and they are wrong. When I say "they", I mean other churches. When I say "we", I mean the Church of Christ. When did being "right" become the end all be all of following Jesus? When did discipleship become about distinguishing ourselves from the Baptists, Presbyterians, or Methodists down the street? When did knowing God become about forcing others to conform to our way of doing things? I know in my heart that God has passed down the appropriate ways to live for him. I know through my study that God has thoughts on what is "orderly" for corporate worship. I understand that we all have our preferences, but it seems like that's what the majority of our fights rest on. The "I like it this way, so that's the way I want to do church" life. That attitude doesn't bother me all that much. I have my own preferences about church and how we do it. What bothers me is this "I'm right," and "they are wrong" mentality.
If some of the people who have raised me were to read this next comment, they might disown me. I'm going to say it because those of you who know me know that I respect those who have gone before us. But, there are days I want to go to another church. There are days I would like to go to any other church, and by that I mean any other church outside the Church of Christ. When I meet or hang out with my friends in youth ministry who don't go to a Church of Christ, I find myself constantly defending my beliefs. I have been told a thousand times, "Don't you think you're the only ones going to heaven?" I get this question a lot too; "So if I use a guitar, God won't listen to my singing?"
I know there are many in the "C of C" today who don't think this way, but I have been reminded the past couple of weeks that there are still quite a few out there. My goal and the focus of my life centers on this thought, "If I could bring someone into the presence of Jesus, what would he want them to know or experience?" I have a hard time believing he'd want me to bring up instrumental worship. I think he'd have a completely different mindset. The Holy Spirit's movement in my life leads me to believe Jesus would want me to humbly love and live out an example of abundant life before them. Obviously, there are those who would disagree with me. To those people I say, I respect your thoughts and opinions, but this is the man I believe God is calling me to be. And in all of this, I feel more free in Christ than I ever have.