Others, who claim to understand the importance of following the pattern God set for group worship, still want to change things around on a regular schedule, the incidental things that scripture does not regulate. That’s fine. I am the last person to bind where God has not bound, but consider a few things with me.
The way we are doing things now in my church family, while still scriptural, is not the way we did them when I was a child. It is not the way my grandparents did them. It is not even the way we did them fifteen years ago. Society and culture have changed and so have the various expedients we use to fulfill God’s requirements. So what is this about ruts?
When Jesus appeared on the scene in the first century, the Jews had been practicing the same law, including a Sabbath every Saturday, for 1500 years by a much more exacting standard than we have under the new covenant. “Aha!” some will say, “and look what happened. Along came the Pharisees to whom the Law was nothing but a set of rules to keep. It had totally lost its meaning to them as a religion of the heart.”
Had it? What about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea? What about Saul of Tarsus who “lived before God in all good conscience,” Acts 23:1? Surely they were not the only Pharisees to whom the Law still meant something. And what about the rest of the people? Did Anna, Simeon, Zacharias and Elisabeth, Mary and Joseph, Salome and Zebedee, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus practice a religion out of habit that had totally lost meaning to them because they had been stuck in a rut for a millennium and a half? How in the world did Jesus manage to find 12 apostles if everyone practicing Judaism was “stuck in a rut?”
It seems to me that when someone complains that his religion no longer has meaning for him because he is “stuck in a rut,” it says more about him than it does about the religion he practices—or doesn’t practice. While babes in Christ may need special care, mature Christians should be past the need for coddling. It is my responsibility to keep my heart and my attitude right in my service to God and to keep myself out of the rut of rote ritual, even if God tells me to do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way for ten thousand years. Exactly who is it that is being worshipped anyway? It certainly isn’t me and my likes and dislikes—at least it shouldn’t be.
If we need to change the things we can change, by all means, let’s change them. But when the reason becomes “how I feel” instead of what is best for the body of Christ and the mission God gave us and always--always—according to God’s Word, we need to stop and take a better look at ourselves.
Today I will strive to put my heart into my service to others and to God, even if that service is the same as yesterday’s, or last week’s, or last year’s. That is, and will always be, my responsibility and no one else’s.
And now Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you but to fear the Lord your God and to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you this day for your good, Deut 10:12,13.
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