Refusing the Penny from the Black Eyed Peas

Thanks to being introduced to the world of blogging, I have heard the voices of many professing believers who have chosen to disassociate themselves from worshipping within the walls of local churches. They claim to want the relationship with Jesus minus the traditions and cultural preferences that play so great a role in many congregations.

If we’re honest, those of us who choose the communal form of worship through a local assembly must admit that traditions, cultural preferences, and even personal opinions have a tendency of causing division. Can I be straight-forward without enticing your wrath before you hear me out? If so, then I will blatantly confess that these things mentioned above are bad. Not in and of themselves, but when we try to implement them as “Holy Writ.”

If we think traditions can’t be bad, we are possibly presenting ourselves as modern-day Pharisees… and we really should consider where that went with Jesus. We should consider how that played out in light of a Messiah known for His compassion… the Savior who loved, who never considered turning His nose up at the most deplorable of sinners. Jesus, Lord and King of all.

The same Jesus who got very angry.

Oh yes, He got, and gets angry. Let tradition stand in the way of His love, and He gets angry (Matthew 23). Let materialism get in the way of God-honoring worship and He rampages an auditorium with a bull-whip, slinging tables and chairs (Matthew 21:12). Try to stop the children and the less fortunate from coming to Him… Well, you know (verse after verse after verse).

And you know what; I’m guilty. Think you’re not guilty also? Think again. Go ahead, make your checklist of how you define Christianity (be honest, don’t try to fool yourself with sounds-right answers). You know, those things that make you sneer, like the shirt that lady is wearing, or the vocabulary that man uses. Now find biblical support for your list of standards. Know why you can’t find many of them? Because we compile our lists with cultural traditions bred into us from generations past or whatever may be the social pet-peeve of the day.

Put it in perspective.

The same professing believer who frowns with dismay at the man walking from a Sunday service with a cigarette glued to his lip, will gorge himself in a restaurant after church with enough food to feed two-dozen starving children and never think anything of it. To make matters worse, he’ll constantly complain about the waitress, and angrily leave her twenty cents for a tip (guess he fixed her).

And what about that disgustingly dressed, foul-smelling man at the minute market who simply asks for some change? This same man will think, “get a job,” and intentionally ignore the one in need’s approach (after all, he’s late for work), and then make a path to the coffee counter and doughnut stand.

But enough of my ranting, you get the point. We swallow camels and gag on gnats. Our own actions rarely seem sinful… it’s those others who have the problem.

So what are these disgruntled believers doing for fellowship (to remain obedient to that famous verse from Hebrews, 10:25)? You know, those who can’t stand the scrutiny of  “attire,” or “who you fellowship with,” and are turned away by statements like, “that’s not acceptable in our congregation.” Truthfully, they are beginning to look a lot like believers in the first century. Some are meeting in their homes. Some are gathering in fellowships of online communities. Some have simply resigned themselves to a blog, hoping to find acceptance in their words of worship and praise to their Lord.

Let me be clear, I support the establishment of the local church, and all its biblically organized functions. I believe, in its purest state, it is God honoring and profitable for His kingdom. I believe I am a member of a very Gospel-oriented assembly, where the love of our Savior is demonstrated consistently. But obviously, everyone can’t travel to Lighthouse Baptist Church in Bryceville, Florida. And even more obvious is the fact that assemblies like Lighthouse are becoming more and more difficult to find.

What went wrong? How did the local church become the place that so many believers are antagonistic of?

I can’t speak for others, but I can tell you of my failure.

I am afraid I have failed the litmus test described at Two Minutes of Grace. There, Debbie asks the question, “Are people drawn to me when they’re bruised and weary or do they know better than to knock on my door? What do I offer: a sanctuary or a sermon?”

Take a brief moment and consider who Jesus was ever at odds with (yeah, the religious). Now think about who He was always ministering to with love, patience, and compassion (sinners, of whom I am chief). It is just as Carley writes in her post at Grace Partakers, His Heart Goes Out To Them.”

It should be repulsive to the body and bride of Christ that anyone feel more welcome at a bar or Wal-Mart than inside the walls of a building that labels itself Jesus’ Church. And it should cause us to examine ourselves when our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are choosing to find fellowship through a computer screen, because they feel unwanted by the local church.

We must somehow get beyond the barriers of traditionalism, materialism, racism, and any other ‘ism, and embrace the grace of the cross. The cross that provides a sanctuary for sinners. The cross where our Lord paid our debt in full.

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About mtsweat

Seeking the rest that is only promised and found in Christ Jesus, along with my treasured wife of more than twenty-five years, we seek to grow in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, walk with the Holy Spirit as He moves our hearts, loving others always as Jesus loves us, and carry the news of His glory, the wonderful gospel, that gives light and life where there once was only darkness.
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23 Responses to Refusing the Penny from the Black Eyed Peas

  1. April says:

    First of all, thank you for subscribing to my site. This is a wonderful article! Yes, I believe the church is a place where we are to encourage one another in our faith journey. No one is better than the other. We are all just being refined in different ways and are given many different gifts to share with one another.
    Blessings and have a good rest of the week. April

    Today, I worked on my site and I renamed my site to Thoughts from the Porch. Hope you like it!

  2. UsneakydevilU says:

    You are so right, we Christians do get it wrong sometimes; we should be as Jesus and open our arms to all. As brothers and sisters in Christ we should do our part to help bring anyone closer to God just as we were helped. I came to God full of sin, but open to His Word and He accepted me, Praise God!
    Remember the adulteress woman in John 8:3-12, Jesus saved her from being stoned but don’t forget this verse 11, “She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Sin is supposed to be removed from the sinner (me) and God will know the sin no more.
    I just hope we don’t think to change God, trying to make Him accept our shortcomings, but go to the Father with an open heart ready to change from our old self.

    • mtsweat says:

      Yes, you’re so right. In our effort to be loving, we never want to insinuate that the gospel is cheap. We are called to be a holy people, surrendered to Jesus and His Lordship. Thanks for the great comment, God bless.

  3. TikkTok says:

    And, we (Christians) get caught up in the “right way” to worship.

    How many times have we heard people say “Our church/our way is better/right because…..” ??

    How many times have we heard “You are going to hell if you don’t…..” ??

    Christianity in the USA is under attack as never before. And sometimes, those throwing stones at Christians are Christians….. because “they” aren’t “doing it” the “right way.”

    It saddens me to think about how Christianity is being torn apart- and often from within. We need to get past our differences and our “requirments” (i.e; proper dress; proper appearance, proper way to worship, etc) and get back to what we have in common.

    We’ve got to let go of the judgement and remind ourselves that God alone sees all; knows all; and that He knows our hearts and it is He alone sitting on the throne on Judgement Day.

    We have a ways to go. Now is the time to keep our eye on the “prize” and cast aside the petty-ness of the world.

    It’s NOT about us- it’s about HIM; and what He did to fullfill the law- about God sending his one and only son to die for us on the cross so that we may not perish, but have eternal life through Him…

  4. Debbie says:

    MT – I’m fairly certain you won’t be surprised to hear that I love this post, although the content breaks my heart. Fewer and fewer of those I know and love can find a church where they are known and loved.
    Thank you for the important message, friend.

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks Debbie. Your work is an inspiration and encouragement for many of us daily. (by the way, good to see you in the loop) God bless friend.

  5. slmisk says:

    how wonerful son love so so so much words can not express how i feel,greta job well dome amen

  6. I could not agree with this passage more. It has opened my eyes to what is actually going on out in the world. I believe that as each new generation emerges itself, it is so consumed by the technology that is bestowed before them that the traditionalism of church is becoming a thing of the past. What would happen if that same traditionalism kept up with that technology? Would that help in any way?

  7. thebibleman says:

    Wow! Great post my friend! Truer words were never spoken!

  8. K Bredenkamp says:

    Hi!

    In reply to your question:

    What went wrong? How did the local church become the place that so many believers are antagonistic of?

    In my own experience – the one thing I hungered for most (Jesus) could not be found in the legalistic church I was in. In my opinion, the majority of churches make the BELIEVER the focus of their attention. They preach about the holiness you must attain in order to draw closer to God, or the rules you should follow in order to be more spiritual. I believe the focus of a church needs to be on JESUS (like Paul said – look away from all that will distract), and especially what HE has already accomplished on the cross.

    The moment the focus was turned away from me to Jesus, I was able to love Him wholeheartedly. It is the realization of what He did for me that changed me from the inside out, not the other way around.

    Greetings from South Africa! 🙂

  9. I find I quite often fail also, letting compassion and kindness be overpowered by irritation and grumbling. I try to talk without being preachy, but; because I like a straightforward, full gospel message, I find even my writing is preachy at times. I have a long way to go; and much growing to do in my faith, my walk with the Lord, and my communion with others. Thank you for this post. I will take all the lessons and reminders that I can get. And sometimes I need it put in someone else’s words to give it a new perspective that I have never connected with before.

    • mtsweat says:

      Thanks Drusilla. Your encouragement through your responses means much to me. As I stated previously, I was a bit concerned about this post and how it would be received. And as always, I pray that God leads me to write only what is glorifying to Him. God bless friend.

  10. Hank says:

    Right on the money. Traditions exercised as commandments really get my goat. In my old age I find myself becoming less and less able to let these types of things slide out of “kindness” and their “ignorance”. 🙂

    • mtsweat says:

      Hey Brother! Thanks Hank, I’ve battled with whether to post this thing for some time. Not only have I met some great people at WordPress with some plausible arguments about the contents of this post, but you and I know the problem is much closer to home than the internet. Thanks for the encouragement and God bless

  11. ladydeee says:

    You’re a really intelligent writer. Thanks for sharing your views.

  12. Well said! These are things that grieve my heart. May our local body of believers be the safe place for people to “let it all hang out”; the good, the bad, and the ugly. God never meant the Church to be a gathering of the “self-fighteous” but the gathering of those who are growing in His righteousness. This particular blog “resonates” with my spirit. Thank you for posting, friend.

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