Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Our Sunday School Class was recently discussing how the Church today faces some cultural challenges that are different from what the Church faced in the first century. One of the big differences we discussed was our highly individualistic culture. We view everything in the world through the eyes of “ME” instead of the eyes of “community” like I shared with you last month. We adopt the perspective from a very early age that everything is about ME.
This is natural for infants. When they want something, they cry. I’m hungry…cry until I’m fed. I need a new diaper…cry until I’m changed. I need attention…cry until someone holds me. I’m tired…cry until you rock me to sleep. This progresses as the infant grows. A child sees a toy or something they want yells, “MINE!” But as a child grows they reach a stage in their development in which they have to wrestle with the fact that there are others in the world and they have to learn to think about others too. Children learn to share and they continue to grow.
But while we may learn to share, we don’t always learn to move beyond ourselves. Our culture is constantly feeding our need for instant gratification. Our culture has trained us to look for the easy and convenient way to have our desires fulfilled. What can you do for me? How are you going to make me feel good? How will you fulfill my desires and meet what I perceive as my needs?
Unfortunately, this very worldly perspective is carried into the Church all the time. What can this local church do for me? How is your congregation going to make me feel good every Sunday? How is your worship service and programing going to fulfill my desires? How are you going to meet my needs. This is the wrong perspective as a disciple of Christ, but we are all guilty of it from time to time. We allow ourselves to become a bunch of babies refusing to grow up in Christ. It is time to grow up, church!
Evidently the church in Corinth struggled with this as well. Paul writes to them in 1 Corinthians 3 saying that even after hearing his teaching he still needed to give them milk because they were still like spiritual babies, not growing. The writer of Hebrews warned about this struggle as well. In chapters five and six we find the original readers of Hebrews had been taught long enough that they ought to be able to teach others, but they weren’t doing so. The author seems to be pretty upset about it as well: “Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…”
Do not fall prey to the world’s teaching to satisfy every desire above all other things. We don’t see Jesus living this way and we can’t live that way. Sunday morning is not about us! It is about bringing glory and honor to God our Savior. We must stop looking for worship services and church programs to make us feel good; instead we must start bringing everything we have, whether great or small, to the throne of God in worship. We must stop looking for people who look like us or are the same as us; instead we must start looking for and celebrating the image of God in those around us. We must stop looking for the local church to do the programs we want, sing the songs we want, or to do things the way we prefer; instead we must start listening to the Holy Spirit and follow His prompting to go deeper, serve well, and reach out to others.
Church, I’m begging you. We must stop being babies! This year seems like a good year for us to move past the childish things, to stop drinking only milk, and to start eating solid food. Growing up is not always easy, but we must take the next step towards becoming more like Jesus. As the author of Hebrews says later in chapter six. “And God permitting, we will do so.” May 2016 be a year of growing for us as a church family of disciples.