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Monday, March 24, 2014

“I Just Like It Better!”

By Joe Chesser

      People are always changing churches.  Sometimes there are valid reasons for doing so, reasons based solidly in scripture.  But most of the varied reasons people give for changing churches can be boiled down to personal preferences.  “I like the youth programs.” “I like the music.” “I like a bigger (or smaller) church.” “I like the relaxed (or structured) atmosphere.” “I like the location.” “I like a more liberal (or conservative) church.” “I like this church because it’s what I'm used to. My parents and grandparents went to church here.” Basically, people just like one church more than another.
As a general rule, liking certain things about a church is a good thing.  It’s good to like the church you go to or it will soon become the church you like to stay away from. But while liking a church can be a good thing, there is an inherent danger in choosing and staying with a church just because you like it better than other churches.  Here’s the danger: choosing a church based solely on your own personal preferences puts you in the place of God in determining what is acceptable in a church.  That’s not a good idea.  That has never worked with God, and never will.  While God has given humans the ability to reason and create and choose, there are some things that are outside of our realm of creating and choosing.  Church is one of them.  Of course we still have the freedom of choosing God’s way or not.  It’s just that if we choose our way over God’s way we have to be prepared to accept the consequences.
      Cain chose to offer God some of the fruits of the soil in worship to God.  God was not pleased and Cain had to accept the consequences (Genesis 4:2-16).  Although Cain liked his worship better, God didn’t.
      Nadab and Abihu made a fatal mistake by offering unauthorized fire in worship to the Lord (Numbers 10:4).
      The Corinthian church thought it was OK to accept a sexually immoral man among them.  They were even proud of their openness.  But God wasn’t (1 Cor. 5:1-5).
      Diotrephes thought he could choose who would be accepted in the church because of his position and power.  He was wrong (3 John 9-10).
      Paul thought that because he had great zeal and a clear conscience he could do whatever he wanted to do to the church. God showed him how wrong he was (Phil. 3:4-11).
      Instead of being on the constant prowl looking for what pleases me in a church, maybe I should make a strong effort at learning what pleases God. I know it grinds against all the common beliefs of modern day American culture, but “I” am not all that matters in this world, and especially in the church.  Instead of constantly looking for what pleases me in a church, maybe I should try to see what I can do to please others.  In fact, that’s exactly what I should be doing: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interest of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).  Why not “like” God’s way best?!

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:
http://www.cofcfruitland.com/

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