Monday September 28, 2015
“We do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names.”
Search the Internet and you will find churches posting that slogan on their website. That is a noble goal, yet it does not unite all who display it, not even in the body of believers I belong to. Why? Because our patterns are not equal.
One of our problems is, we read our culture and church traditions into the Bible and assume that is what first century Christians practiced. We assume they had a complete King James Bible in special holders on the back of each pew. We visualize the first century saints with an auditorium/sanctuary set up just exactly as ours is. When they entered theirs on Sunday morning to worship, they sang, prayed, gave, taught, and partook of the Lord’s supper exactly as we do. Their religious vocabulary was the same as ours. The conduct in the assembly was just like ours.
Church building? Pews? KJV Bible? Auditorium/sanctuary? None are mentioned in scripture – so how do we do the “Bible names” thing? Church buildings don’t show up in the pages of history until the fourth century. All the other things came after that.
Until persecution forced them out, the apostles preached in the temple courtyards. They met in homes. Have you noticed how “unchurchy” house assemblies are compared to those that are church “sanctuary” meetings? Same group in both places, but different attitude or conduct! Is a church building “holy,” but a living room isn’t? What book, chapter, or verse does that pattern of difference come from? Have you ever noticed how many man made rules of conduct we expect compliance to in the church auditorium/sanctuary which aren’t considered when we meet in someone’s living room or den? In one there are precise, strict decrees to be observed, rules governing reverence, a specific decorum, and special furniture, but in the other there isn’t. Is the worship of John 4:23-24 accepted only in the church’s auditorium/sanctuary? Didn’t that worship take place in unlikely sites, such as the catacombs, where the stench of death mingled with the praise of the faithful?
Tradition caused the Pharisees to hate Jesus because he did not conform. Traditions in time become very dear and cannot be separated from a “thus saith the Lord” in the minds of those who perpetuate them.
Modern man creates binding patterns that are as ridiculous to Jesus as were those supported by the Pharisees. An expedient way may be designed to carry out a New Testament practice and not be wrong unless it is elevated to the position of being the only way to do it! Then it is reclassified by Jesus (Matthew 15:9). Let us examine all our expediencies and make sure they have not been so elevated!