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Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Blue Jeans Welcome!"

 “My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? Now you have insulted the poor. James 2: 1-6
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.  Mercy triumphs over judgment!” James 2:12
While passing a local church today, I noticed that the church’s marquis sign read: “Blue Jeans Welcome!”  Of course, the sign is letting people know that they are welcome to attend that particular church in an informal clothing style if they wish.  It is a “Come Just as You Are” to Jesus message similar to the song by Kathy Triccoli that I posted below this article.
Today, many churches (including my own) are changing to a more informal style of conducting services. These noticeable changes, which seem to be at the heart of much discussion and sadly, much division among church members are as follows:  

        1.  Style of music.  Incorporation of more contemporary praise and worship songs and less of the more traditional hymns.
        2.   Less emphasis on what type of clothing a person wears. Many churches are reaching out to people who would be reluctant and uncomfortable to attend for reasons of not meeting the “standards” of the church dress code.
Right off the bat, I will let the readers know that I am in the group of people who learned the  traditional hymns of the church, and still know most of them by memory.  These hymns continue to bless me in so many ways. Their words have deep meaning to my soul.  There is no question in my mind that the writers of the old hymns were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.  But, at the same time, I am blessed by the upbeat and lively contemporary praise and worship songs.  I see and feel a freedom to praise and worship Jesus with these songs, and to me that gives merit to them.  A great number of these songs have a melody added to words straight from scripture, and with that said, we could safely say that they are also divinely inspired. 
At a young age, I was also taught that I should “dress up” for church.  My best dress was always starched and ironed for Sunday church services. This was my upbringing and I carried these habits into adulthood.  It is with gratitude to my parents that I was taught to recognize Sunday as a special day – the Lord’s Day.  However, today there are many young adults who were not taught the same practices as my parents taught me.  Consequently, they are not teaching their children these practices, either.  Because of this, we now find many un-churched young families living in our communities. 
While I will always believe that we should give our best to God and be respectful and worshipful in His house, I feel that perhaps Satan is enjoying the shift of focus to the controversies over the style of music we sing and the type of clothing we wear. Our churches are riddled with these issues and it is easy to see how the real purpose of the church is being hindered.  So, I ask myself these questions: 
What would Jesus be wearing if He were here among us in human form today?
Would Jesus care about the outer shell or would He be looking deeper into our hearts to see if we possess an honest and wholehearted desire to enter into worship? 
Would Jesus be looking to see if we came to church with an excitement to abide in His presence, regardless of the style of song we sing or the way others are dressed? 
Would Jesus be sitting on a soft church pew in a coat and tie, or would He be dressed down in order to relate to the poor man on the street, or the lowly and downtrodden, or the young man or woman who says there is no God and needs the love and patience that only Jesus could give?  Would Jesus be available to meet that young man or woman right where they are today?
Based on His own words found in scripture, there is no doubt that Jesus would be about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49) seeking to save the lost wherever that took Him; to bind up the wounded, bring sight to the blind, and heal the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18). Jesus would help those with physical, emotional, and more importantly, spiritual needs.  Jesus met people where they were. He ate with sinners (see Matthew 9:10-12 below) and approached the Samaritan woman at the well whose reputation was less than stellar (see John:10-14 below).  During that particular encounter Jesus told this woman about the living water He offered that would leave her never thirsting again. 

Today, Jesus still meets people at the point of their need.  Jesus’ own disciples were uneducated and none were who “we” would have selected to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.  Jesus chose them so that they would bear witness to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them, so that God, not they, would receive the glory.  God’s Word bears witness to the fact that He can take the lowest of sinners, or the least educated among us and turn their lives around, making them bold witnesses to the power and saving grace of Jesus Christ.   
For many people my age and older, these changes in church tradition are a very serious issue.  Some cannot adjust to it, and that’s okay.  What is right for one individual is not necessarily right for someone else.  Others are able to go forward and pray that God will help them to be productive members of a changing church.  The last scenario is where I find myself. I am thankful to be adjusting and learning to appreciate the differences in both styles of worship.
I do not believe that we will sing hymns or contemporary praise and worship songs in heaven.  Dear friends, it is going to be so much better than that. Our feeble minds cannot imagine what it will be like.  All I know is that we will be praising Jesus and whatever form of music that takes is okay with me! 
I write this article today because I am burdened by this controversy within our churches and within our families.  My prayer is that we will always keep our eyes focused on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ; that we will be good role models for our children, grandchildren, and all young people; that we will lay aside OUR preferences for the desire to come back the true heart of worship.  Only God can bring us to that point through the work of the Holy Spirit within us.  God is so much bigger than our preferences.  It’s neither hymns nor contemporary songs that will make us true worshipers, nor is it our clothing preferences, but I believe the answer is found deep within each of our hearts. My prayer is that each of us will allow God to strip away our preferences in exchange for an overfilling of the living water that Jesus offered the Samaritan women at the well.  Then, as a church, we will be able to meet in one accord to worship and adore the Lord our God.  This is where I want my focus to lie.  How about you?

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-12
“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:10-14

Prayer:  Father God, please help us to strive for harmony within our churches and our families over this controversy or any others that might arise.  We belong to You.  We are not our own.  We have been bought with the price of  the precious blood of Jesus.  Help us to be obedient children so that we might radiate Your love to others.  Help us not to miss what You want to do in our lives for Your glory.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen.
All scripture taken from New International Version.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Grandma,

    Great post. I feel strongly for many of the same issues you do. It is sad that the Church is hindered by these temporal issues and they distract the people of God from staying on mission. I have recently read a book that touches on some interesting points. The book is called "The Forgotten Ways" by Alan Hirsch. He talks about how the visible church is filled with a lot of the world. Always trying to bring more people in or increase their popularity by changing the style of music or the furniture, or the clothes. Consumerism has a great stronghold on the Church. A stronghold that has deceived so many. Anyway, Amen to all you said. Great article Grandma. Love you. Your blog is featured on our blog now. I hope it helps bring more people to read the words the Lord has put on your heart. We love you both.

    Zachary

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  2. Heather, Thank you so much for your words of encouragement which are appreciated and needed! Thanks for sharing my blog writings on your blog. I do pray that others will be reached as well. Also, thanks for your comments on the book you are reading. Would love to read it. This is a subject that was burning in my heart for various reasons. Seeing the church sign yesterday was no less than God giving me the title to this writing! Isn't He so good like that!! You know how I do not like controversy or conflict, so even writing it, except for the direction of the Holy Spirit, was not that easy. I do pray that others will stop and think about what I have said whether they agree or not. There are too many lost souls at stake, so my burden is heavy. I love you so much. Grandma

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