Sunday, October 19, 2008

Seek peace...

You know how if you pray for patience you can pretty much count on getting your patience tested?

Looks like the same thing happens when you preach on "Perfecting Unity" (Jn 17:23).
Sure as shootin' something will come up that gives you a chance to "Seek peace and pursue it."

You can take that to the bank.

Ask me how I know. /heh

Change is painful in human relationships, be they families, workplaces, or churches. Problems usually come from the most experienced, high tenure, so-called "mature" corners of the fellowship. Howls of "that's not Biblical" are quick to rise.

More often it's a case of Who Moved My Cheese?

Over time traditions and "family" ways of doing things morph into doctrine. Much is added to scripture without it being found in scripture. Great mental gymnastics ensue to make a case "supporting" from scripture the tradition as ordained by God. Or not. Often it is just stated as having scriptural authority but is unsupported (unsupportable).

Growing up in the 60's and 70's along the I-5 corridor we had some interesting characters drift into to town and our little church. It seems we were on the hitchhiking hippy/Jesus People trail between California and Seattle. As a result we faced questions about church traditions earlier and more frequently that more insulated Assemblies elsewhere in flyover country.

In retrospect I really had a wise father (he was an elder in our little Assembly at the time). When questions and upset about church practices arose (esp relating to the Lord's Supper, i.e. Rembrance Meeting or Breaking of Bread) he would typically defer answering. Instead he would direct us to check out the Bible for ourselves.

He'd answer our question with a question, "What does the Bible tell us about how to conduct the Breaking of Bread?" More often than not the answer back to him was "Not much." We're mostly told what not to do (ie I Corinthians out of control "Love feasts").

Well I (we Elders) have "stepped in it" a bit with some of the more (ahem) "mature" believers of late.

Sing a song out of the "wrong" hymnal for the Rembrance Service (RS)? Ruh-ohh!

Turn on the projector and PC during the RS so that worship hymns and choruses are available if called out during the RS? Heresy!

Lose our pianist to poor health and life threatening surgery? Fill in the gap with guitar and on rare occasion (super skillful) banjo?

*aside: By the way the banjo is just brilliant on many traditional Brethren hymns -- it's as if they were written perfectly for bluegrass. It's a very traditional sound but done well and (surprisingly) our younger generation of city kids actually relate well to the bluegrass sound.

Never mind that all the hymnals are still available and can (and are) still used. It's somehow just not in line with our "Brethren Distinctives." Hey if the "black hymnal" was good enough for the Apostle Paul it should be good enough for us. That settles it! Singing that hymnal is the biblical approach. Yep, and I'll argue it till the cows come home.

/sarcasm off

So back to Paul's instruction to Timothy for me as a Younger (oops, I mean Elder).
Let no one despise your youth... Teach, exhort, reprove... with patience..

As for what is truly biblical in the Church's practice: to the "mature" I remind them,
It ain't what a man don't know that makes him a fool.
It's what he does know that ain't so.
-Josh Billings-

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