Often I am perplexed by the amount of rhetoric that is given over to people, especially church people, who love to claim about their religious affiliation as though it is better than anyone else’s understanding. Their claim on the things that make them distinctive will quickly lead an observer to the understanding that maybe their focus is not necessarily where it ought to be.
Let me illustrate my point. My own denomination, Lutheran, has people totally infatuated if not completely stuck on the role of Martin Luther in any number of different settings. I have no qualms with this methodology or belief, as Luther indeed brought fundamental change to the world view on Christianity in his day, which I treasure as a gift from God. What I do have a problem with is when these so called advocates of Lutheranism start to defend a position that becomes exclusionary and starts to make claims it cannot necessarily back up. I’m not going to make an attempt to historically trace all the reasons, since it has had a long and varied tradition over almost 500 years.
Lutherans for the untrained eye or ear have a long history of classical liturgical foundations. Those same foundations have found new manifestations in more contemporary worship songs, written for and performed upon different instruments to a more contemporary crowd. Loyalties of style as to which is the more “authentic” have produced numerous “worship wars” both within and without of Lutheranism in general. It does not take long to see the forces divide on the issue and we quickly see the battle being more about the struggle than the point that was trying to be made in the first place.
Would not the church of today be better served if we shifted focus away from the 1600’s and let it fall back to about 33 AD or so? Would we not be better served if we focused our attention on Jesus as opposed to fighting about worship music written either 16 centuries following Jesus or yesterday? Good grief, how did all those believers survive the 15 centuries before Luther? Now to be fair, this little controversy spans denominations, so no one ought to think I am being unfair to just Lutherans.
I believe one of the difficulties that possesses churches of today is misplaced focus. They are more worried about almost everything else other than the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. IF we are at all serious about being the Body of Christ in this time and place, people are going to have to notice it. If all we do is spew philosophy or act out poorly to one another, we do little to lift up what it means to walk in the Way Jesus gave to us.
If we were to be able to slide our focus back to the days immediately following Pentecost, we might see things happening in a completely different way than they do now. I fear we have allowed the sum total of all things historical to carry more weight than the Words of Jesus himself, and as such, we lose focus on what truly matters. It is not the way words are arranged upon a musical scale that matters at all. I think it otherwise.
Perhaps it is the spark of the Holy Spirit given to the new believer when they finally “get” the truth of Jesus as it is lived out in the life of the person right in front of them. Perhaps the Spirit gives us all the ability to model what it means to be a disciple of Jesus as we simply follow Him. Maybe others will be impressed by the genuine, heartfelt response of one who hears the Master’s voice and gladly follows, just not asserting their ability to direct things in their individualistic way. Perhaps the Spirit leads us to be Kingdom oriented by showing others how it means to live out the Kingdom daily. Perhaps others will be able to see in our lifestyle the excitement of living in the Kingdom without so much as a word exchanged, simply by the way we live.