Less Criticism, More Community

Living in a place with a church on practically every corner, there is often a lot of talk about various churches and ministries.  Most often this talk is encouraging, positive, and life-giving.  There is incredible fellowship, servitude, and worship within the ministries and churches, and God is so, so present in the community. However, I’ve come to realize that there is also a great deal of criticism within the churches and ministries, creating ever-so-slight divisions that are toxic to the community of which Jesus desired each of us to be a part.

I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)

We are all worshipping the same God and risen Savior.  All who are born-again have the same Spirit living within, yet we spend so much time criticizing and analyzing differences in “styles” within churches.

One of my favorite criticisms* is the ever-spoken “the worship is just too much of a show.”     *insert heavily sarcastic tone.

Since when is it okay to go crazy in a crop top and flower crown at Coachella, celebrating the performer on stage, but not okay to jump around and raise your hands while worshipping an incredible Savior who DIED. FOR. YOU??? It’s okay to fist pump at concert, but not in the presence of a KING? Last time I checked, Nick Jonas didn’t pay the debt of your sins on a cross. Last time I checked, Lady Gaga didn’t either. So the next time you think about deeming lights, loud speakers, and a room full of raised hands “excessive”, remember why and who you’re celebrating. HE IS WORTHY OF A DANCE PARTY! CAN I GET AN AMEN?

At the other end of the spectrum is the lovely criticism of “boring” and “old-fashioned” worship.

To this I just have to ask, are we glorifying a Holy God or a style of music?  Are we glorifying loud bass and a sick guitar solo or are we glorifying a Savior through the declaration of His praise?  God is just as present in a room void of instruments and lights as He is in a room with an all-out concert setup.  Perhaps it’s the state of our heart that is leading to our boredom, rather than our surroundings.  I can confidently say that when the Spirit stirs in your soul, “boring” is not a word used in your attempt at describing your state.

These criticisms are only a drop in the bucket.  “Too many hipsters,” “too many old people,” “too many young people,” “only socially awkward people,” “only ‘popular’ people.” The list goes on and on.

The church and ministries should be places where we grow in learning about the teachings Jesus presents in the Word, engage in life-giving fellowship, and sacrificially serve our God.  The church is not about what we get out of it, but rather how much we give the Lord as a result of it.

“I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)

When we come together in the complete unity that Christ said He desired for us right before going to the cross to pay the debt of all our sin, I truly believe we will experience a radical difference in the way we love our brothers and sisters of Christ.  It’s not about overlooking differences, but rather seeing beauty and encouragement in the differences. The fact that we can use so many different methods to bring glory–ultimately fulfilling our sole purpose in life–to our Father is so incredibly beautiful.

“I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)

We were all loved infinitely before we were even able to have a first-hand experience of His love.  Believers all have incredibly different earthly stories, yet in the most perfect way, we have the exact same story from a Heavenly perspective.  We all live broken lives in a broken world, yet when we enter the Heavenly gates, our stories all become those of endless worship to our reigning King.  When we are standing (or more likely falling on our faces) before the power and presence of the Lord, I am confident that our choirs, acoustic ensembles, and stage lights will all be wiped from our memories, and we will only be left with an unquenchable desire to praise.  

We need to start coming together as a community and loving as a result of the overwhelming love we have received. Let’s start focusing on what truly matters–spreading the life-saving Truth of the Gospel and glorifying the One who provided it.

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