Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Bible vs Your Comfort-Zone

We're all guilty of it; we grow up with certain traditions, and never question the Biblicality of those traditions, and we assume that traditions with which we're unfamiliar are unBiblical.

For example, in my church background, the collection (or contribution) has always been taken up after the bread and cup of the Lord's Supper was served. Sometimes it's mentioned that the collection is not part of the Lord's Supper, but since all the "servers" are in place, it's just a convenient time to pass the plate. No problem with that. But I suspect that if, at such a church, the collection was taken just before the passing of the bread and cup, quite a few folks would have a cow. (And we know beef is not authorized as part of the Lord's Supper....)

Another example, again from my church background. The singing has always been led by a man standing at the front of the auditorium (usually in front of a microphone), and there's basically been a pattern of 2 songs, a prayer, another song, the Lord's Supper, a song, the sermon, an invitation song, final announcements, and a closing song followed by a closing prayer. (There are minor variations on this pattern, but most in the churches of Christ would recognize this pattern.) What would happen if instead of following this pattern, the preacher gave his sermon first thing, and then came the singing uninterrupted by other activities, led not by a man standing at a microphone in the front of the crowd but by a man sitting with a microphone, essentially invisible to the congregrants, followed by the remainder of normal procedures to close out? I think again, people would take offense, and try to maneuver this change as unBiblical, or perhaps just disruptive and therefore wrong, or perhaps just as change for the sake of change and therefore wrong on that count.

Heaven forbid that the preacher sit while preaching his sermon, as Jesus did on at least one occasion (Luke 4:20).

My point is that it's human nature to allow our traditions to become doctrines, even to the point of shunning what would otherwise be a Biblical practice (sitting while teaching - Luke 4:20, lifting of hands in prayer - 1 Tim 2:8, women covering their heads when praying - 1 Cor 11:5ff, fasting as a church - Acts 13:2,3, etc).

Note that I'm not necessarily advocating these things; I'm just saying they're Biblical, and should therefore be acceptable in any church belonging to Christ, even if they're beyond our normal comfort zone. I also am suggesting that our failure to regularly challenge our comfort zones has made us weak, resulting in a tenacious clinging to our traditions, in essence making them commandments of men.

Would love to hear your comments.

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