This will be a post that has to do with my Christian beliefs and what I have learned about church throughout my life. You may or may not choose to read it, and you may or may not agree with me if you do read it, and that is certainly your prerogative.
As a child, my family didn’t attend church much, but my mother took me to church sporadically. When she did, we always went to the same church. After my high school graduation as my friends moved out of the area or went off to school and I stayed behind, I decided something was missing from my life, and I decided to go back to church. Because I was only familiar with one church, that is the church I went to and I remained at that church for more than twenty years.
However, as my husband and I were raising a family, at one point we felt we needed a to attend a different church. We prayed about it and God led us to a church that was a forty minute drive from our home, but we believed it was where we needed to be and we remained a part of that church for ten years.
Both of these churches were good for us during the time we attended them. However, as we learn and grow in our walk with the Lord, we sometimes feel a need to move to a different church. Sometimes it’s because of something we are struggling with inside the church. Sometimes it’s a change our kids need. Sometimes it’s because of something we are struggling with inside ourselves. And sometimes it’s a combination of things, but one thing I have learned in the few churches I’ve been a part of is that people put too much emphasis on theology and not enough emphasis on the Bible.
You see, the Bible, according to my beliefs, is God’s word, His truth–the one and only real truth, and I measure everything against God’s word. In other words, if it contradicts God’s word, it’s not true. And what I have learned, in the two churches I was a part of, us that when you focus on theology, you are focusing on one man’s teaching or interpretation of Scripture (the Bible). One church we went to was Armenian and focused on Scripture that supported the teachings of John Wesley, and one church we went to was Reformed and focused on Scripture that supported the teachings of John Calvin.
However, what I came to realize is that the Scriptures that supported both these teachings are ALL part of the Bible–God’s word. Therefore, ALL of those Scriptures are true. So my question became: is there a church, a pastor that teaches ALL of these Scriptures, ALL of this truth. Because what I came to realize is that when you focus on one teaching, you focus on the Sovereignty of God, and I believe God is Sovereign — nothing happens that He is not aware of and that doesn’t fit into his perfect plan for us. (Yes, He is aware of all of the bad things that happen, but those things happen because of man’s sinfulness, and though bad things happen, God never leaves or nor forsakes us. He is always there to help us and to pick up the pieces.) If you focus on the other teaching, you focus on man’s free will and man’s responsibility. Focusing on just one or the other creates problems because if we focus only on God’s Sovereignty, we don’t think that anything we do matters, so why should we share the message of Jesus with anyone? It’s like we’re robots or something. And if we focus only on man’s free will and responsibility, we can’t believe that Grace is a free gift that only requires us to believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to DO anything to earn salvation. And, so we’re always trying to do something that’s good enough.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to do good works, but if we believe in God and Jesus and feel the love He has for us, then we will want to do things to please Him, not to EARN something, but just to please Him. Like a child who recognizes his parent’s love and because he loves his parents in return, he wants to please them.
So, what I have learned is that we need to accept that God is Sovereign and also do good works and share Jesus Christ with others because we love Him, not because we have to earn our way to heaven.
And I am thankful that we have recently found a church whose pastor recently preached a sermon, putting these two things together, and whose focus is on The Word of God (the Bible), not a specific theology. That is how I know we have found the church that is right for us now, because it is what I prayed for because I want All of God’s Truth from All of God’s Word.
I welcome comments, whether or not you agree with me, as long as you are respectful in your use of language.