Written in Stone
“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18
I think back over my life about how church has changed. There was a time when women and girls were required to wear dresses. Refusal to do so was not only frowned upon but considered unbiblical. We couldn’t drink coffee or cokes in the building. They were viewed as unhealthy vices and didn’t have a place in the Lord’s house. You had a piano and an organ; nothing else. Hymns were sung out of hymn books. Pastors were required to wear a suit and tie for every service – even if the weather was 100 degrees.
The world of missions changed, too. When American missionaries began to reach out to Native Americans, their first order of business was to “Americanize” the natives. They were dressed in “Christian” clothes and were given “acceptable” haircuts. Now, missionaries are taught to understand the culture they are trying to reach as they seek to serve. The missionaries are trained to understand the people by being willing to live like them, talk like them, and accept the differences. If the target area is impoverished or hit by a famine, the missionaries feed the people physically before reaching out to them spiritually.
Progress is nothing new. The world, the church, communities, and individuals see progress everywhere. Progress, or progression, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Until recently….
There is a progressive movement in Christianity that comes across as an “everything-is-okay” mentality. I’m not sure I am a Progressive Christian, but I am a progressive thinker. Just like wearing pants or drinking coffee in church today, I simply believe some of the traditions that came before me were not scripturally sound and held no merit with God. Man may have liked the rules, but God didn’t make them. While they may have felt acceptable and been embraced, the thought that God would rather a woman wear a dress to church or stay home is ludicrous. To think that we sin by drinking a coke or coffee in the Lord’s house is so hypocritical. I can assure you there are many more things far worse spinning in our lives and minds. God is okay with coffee. He is less concerned about what we are drinking in our classes than He is concerned with what we are teaching there.
Progressive Christianity birthed the Civil Rights movement. Christians of all colors stood together against discrimination and injustice. Progressive Christianity said orders of worship didn’t have to be set in stone. We didn’t need a bulletin to tell us what to do and when to do it. We saved trees and money by eliminating bulletins or, at least, reducing how often we used them. Instruments were allowed into worship centers across America. Contemporary worship music was introduced and is now mainstream.
The problem with labels is they box us in. The problem with labels is they often shut God out. The problem with the stands many of us take is they have nothing to do with God, but have more to do with our preferences, hopes, and egos. My prayer is that we progress to the point that we learn something new from the bible every time we open it. My prayer is that we progress to the point that we remember God is God. We are not God.
Perhaps someday we will quit trying to do His job and simply live for Him. Now, that is a necessary progression that is badly needed today. In fact, living in peace and unity depending on Him to take care of us was His Original Plan. We came up with our Plan B driven by sin, self-righteousness, and manmade solutions.
The only thing God wrote in stone were the Ten Commandments. If we focus on keeping them, we’ll have less time to debate one another.