“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7
My Facebook page has been bombarded lately with a meme about the evil of forming criticisms of people who may, at first, glance seem out of place at church. The tagline is, we want to bring them in not kick them out with “man-made laws and legalism”. All very true as far as it goes—it just doesn’t go far enough.
The false assumption is that harsh criticism fills the mind of every Christian. There is in the world a spirit that points an accusing finger at the unavoidable failure of individuals to achieve complete Christlikeness. This is done despite the fact the accuser repeats “nobody’s perfect” like a mantra. The accuser of the brethren has a name—do you know it?
The next false assumption is a very Christian sounding one. The idea that getting people to go to church is the prime objective of Christianity. It is an objective, but only in as far as church is a place to hear the message of Christ. According to Christ, the prime objective is to deliver the message wherever, whenever, and to whomever you can. Then when that is done, to make disciples of those who receive it by teaching them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
No man-made laws. Christ given teaching aimed toward a free will, spirit led fellowship with God, no legalism required. Resistance to Christ’s teaching revolves more around the required personal transformation than any imagined conformity within the church. You may start to church in any life circumstance. God especially likes those who are at their wit’s end.
However, encountering God and becoming a disciple are not the same thing. You may encounter God anytime, anywhere, in a suit or in rags, rich or poor. But to be a disciple, you may not stay in your present state forever.
At the heart of the idea that anything goes held by many modern churchgoers is that “God doesn’t care what I____”. You fill in the blank. A favorite filler is, “God doesn’t care what I wear to church.” God cares about everything you do. The disconnect comes when we don’t care to hear what God has to say because we have our own ideas.
I have to use myself as an example because I’m the only one walking my path. I am forbidden to wear anything but a long-sleeved dress shirt to church and on Sunday morning that must include a tie. This is not the standard for everyone. There is no scriptural injunction for anyone (even me) to do so. It is what the Holy Spirit wants from me. If I don’t follow that directive—I have transgressed the will of God.
I’m not saying everyone must dress that way. I am saying, God does care about everything concerning you. Unless you take the time to inquire of the Spirit you probably won’t hear from Him. The command to ask applies to more than asking for things you want from God. It is more often God’s invitation to start a conversation. Do you care? God does.