Christianity vs Churchianity
As Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions."1
Francis McNutt, author of the classic book, Healing, and director of Christian Healing Ministries points out how God's answer to the church in one generation can become a problem in the next or in following generations.
McNutt, in one of his monthly news reports, The Healing Line, gave the following example: "In the Old Testament God instructed Moses to set up a bronze serpent on a stick, so that whoever might look at it was healed of a snake-bite during their wanderings in the desert. But then, centuries later, the good, reforming King Hezekiah 'broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made' because the Israelites had started to worship it!"
If we knew how Peter "gave the invitation for people to come to Christ" on the Day of Pentecost when 3,000 people were converted, we would cling to this method religiously and tenaciously. We would even fight over it and allow it to split churches. Fortunately, the New Testament is almost totally silent on methodology. What God is concerned about is our heart—not our methods! As E.M. Bounds said, "Men are looking for better methods. God is looking for better men [and women]."
One of the biggest battles in the church today is over the music and manner of worship. The reality is that God isn't concerned with our method of worship be it contemporary, traditional, or whatever, but with the spirit of our worship—the attitude of our hearts. As Jesus said to the woman at the well when she mentioned the "proper" place to worship, "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."2 Like the brass serpent, when "old traditions or modern methods of worship" become the focus of our worship, we may be going through the motions, but totally missing the point—and missing out on God!
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be real and not to get bogged down in traditions or methods that are not relevant, but always be open to the work of your Spirit in my heart and life—and in my church. And please help me to always worship you in spirit and in truth—from the heart. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Mark 7:9 (NIV).
2. John 4:24.