Thursday, March 31, 2011
DEFENDING THE CHURCH...
An interesting experience happened to us on Spring Break which I hadn't told you all about yet. One of the days on our trip was a Sunday, so I had found on the internet a church with a website that listed the worship times, and we were set. We had passed this particular church on a main road and it looked like a large congregation, similar to what we are used to....only it wasn't. It was a pretty different experience. The auditorium, which could easily seat 300, had about 50-75 present. They had roped off about half of the pews in the back so more people would sit up front. We arrived a few minutes before the worship time, and the place was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. Not to be critical, but the words we heard from the pulpit made our jaws drop. It had to be the most negative sermon I had ever heard in my life. One scripture was read in the beginning and then it was a LONG list of DON'TS for Christians. The preacher mentioned pool parties, field parties, prom, mixed swimming, cheerleader uniforms, volleyball uniforms, too tight, too short clothing, taking a drink, smoking, dipping, chewing, pornography...he just went on and on. We left thinking we knew pretty sure why that auditorium wasn't full if that's how it went every Sunday.
I dismissed it as just being there on an odd Sunday and gave the place the benefit of the doubt. Fast forward 24 hours:
My husband had scheduled a golf game, so I scheduled something at the resort spa for myself. While getting a pedicure, the lady working on me asked me a few questions about my kids, their colleges, what church the college was affiliated with, etc. Then she asked me if I went to church yesterday at the one in their town. I said yes, and she said, "Well I would really like to know what you think about that because my daughter is best friends with that preacher's daughter, and she can't do ANYTHING!" She proceeded to list several things, including spending the night at her house, and it reminded me of that sermon. Then she asks, "DO YOU THINK THAT CHURCH IS A CULT?"
Wow. Now here I am trying to defend a church I really don't know about. I explained I thought that if the preacher expected everyone to follow HIS list of rules that it could be thought of that way, but also that I thought he was trying to follow the scriptures. We are to be distinct from the world. We are to live differently. For him it meant not doing a lot of things. We are to be Christ's ambassadors, but I believe there is not a list of "do's and don'ts" in the New Testament for a reason. We are to decided for ourselves if we can go swimming and honor Christ. I believe we can. Can Christians go to prom? Well, the prom activities around here at least involve a lot of fun activities and hardly any dancing. Can it lead to promiscuity? Yes. A Christian teenager does need to be wary of that. But I don't think it necessary to avoid it altogether. Maybe I'm trying to walk too closely to the line. But I believe we can make choices to be Christians in the midst of our world's activities. Jesus partied. He made it a point to be in the world, yet making friends and teaching with everything he did. Some followed and obeyed him, while others rejected him. I believe that's the example we are to follow.
I hope we don't "water down" the scriptures in our church services, but I also think we should be correcting others gently, and not hit them over the head with a list of "WHAT CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT DO."
Hopefully I handled it correctly. It reminded me that I must always be ready to give an answer to anyone that asks...I Peter 3:15. I must say the whole experience really has made me think...and that's a good thing, I guess.