Religion is always going to be a hot-button topic in this world, because we generally do not like to be told what to do or how to think. However, we are God’s people, and we are therefore going to be religious people. So it is imperative that we remember a couple of important things that religion is not and a couple of things that it is.
Firstly, our religion is not meant to be a cafeteria-style experience. Choosing a church primarily for its good music, its child-care programs, or its traditional feel puts the focus in the wrong place. We cannot choose a church like we would choose dinner off a menu—just looking for a collection of my favorite things. Our religion is not meant to be a cafeteria-style experience.
Secondly, our religion must not be a auditorium-style experience. It is admittedly much easier go to church and watch a performance of “church music” than it is to actually participate in the worship. Even among the many of us who worship with a cappella music in our churches, we must be careful that we do not choose this primarily because “I like the sound of a cappella so much better.” Worship is not meant to be a performance targeted at the audience.
In both cases, what you find missing is God. The cafeteria and the auditorium styles both glorify the worshiper—not God. Our efforts must be deliberately focused on bringing glory to God, the Father. It’s not a matter of impressing anyone or just finding what works best for me. Rather than asking, “What kind of experience do I want?”, let us ask, “What does GOD want from me?” And rather than choosing to watch a performance, let us determine that we will glorify God together.
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame…” (Psa. 25:1-3)
- Dan Lankford
When a person becomes a Christian, the Bible says that person is added to the church. In Acts 2, the Lord was adding people to the church daily (Acts 2:47). Once they came to be in Christ, they were naturally added to the group of people who are in Christ. This point might seem so simple as to almost be superfluous, but I believe we may have missed one important aspect of it.
At special events—youth lectures, Bible camps, vacation bible schools, and others—young Christians are sometimes told that they are the future of the church. This is—they are told—the reason they must soon begin to take their faith responsibilities seriously.
But, if we assume the young Christians are the future of the church who will soon take their faith seriously, should we also assume that elderly Christians are the past of the church who no longer need to take their faith responsibilities seriously?
Neither of these ideas can be supported biblically. When the Lord added people to the church daily, some of them may have been in their younger years, and yet they were added to the church like everyone else. Some of them may have been well into their older years, and yet they were added to the church like everyone else. In both cases, they were called God’s people regardless of their age. And they all had responsibilities toward Jesus.
Let’s be sure that our church is a church at work. Not just that a certain segment of our church is at work, but that Christ is living and active in all of us. We might have different abilities at different stages of life, but the work of taking the light to the world must be shared by people of all ages. If a person is in Christ, his or her responsibilities to serve the Lord matter in the present—not just in the future or in the past. If you are a young Christian, you are a Christian now, and you must behave like one. If you are an older Christian, you are a Christian now, and you must behave like one. Christ’s church exists in the present. Let’s not put our service for him just in the future or just the past.
- Dan Lankford