The sermon that was given yesterday during our worship service really got the whole congregation thinking. A good thing, for sure, but it's a bit disconcerting nonetheless. None of us expects doctorate-level discertations here. Not one of our "lay" members has been to preaching school, and with no regular minister, we rely on the courage of the few men among our number to have a sermon at all! However, the man who gave the lesson yesterday (not an American) was "trained" at the Bear Valley school in Denver, so right or not, we look to him with a bit more than average expectations when his turn in the pulpit comes. For whatever reason, he chose a topic that left us feeling as if we'd been hit with a hugely irreverant brick that teetered between "opinion" and slippery slope toward blasphemy. It was even the first time in probably fifteen years that I have heard anyone interrupted during a sermon and corrected with Biblical truth.
Perhaps it's a cultural thing; many of us hard-nosed conservatives from the US Bible belt have felt a bit out of sorts when discussing "sound doctrine" with our European brethren, because on many occasions we have noted a divergence into "fluffy" liberalism and a what (to us, anyway) feels like a broad lack of convictions when it comes to things we American Christians see as pillars of our faith. It was far beyond culture shock to be invited to an anniversary celebration immediately following a Sunday morning worship service and to witness our German brethren partaking in what amounted to encouraged social drinking. Our feathers were not just ruffled but nearly ripped from us altogether when, during a joint English/German worship service, the speaker called on his sister to translate, when there were no fewer than three men who could have done the job just as effectively. Just yesterday every one of us had to grit our teeth and say we can't fully agree on a matter that the speaker said "seems wrong" but that really may just be his opinion based on what he "feels" is amiss in the corporate church worship? Are these things somehow "cultural" differences? Are they really? Our European brothers and sisters don't even wink at these differences, but it is becoming an ever-increasing source of frustration for the Americans among our number, and we aren't so sure what to do with it. Love them, yes...teach, yes...but to what end?
I know this is a phenomenon that extends beyond national borders. We see this in the continental US as well. It's tearing the brotherhood apart, and I know Christ (who, incidentally, was the entire focus of yesterday's lesson) would disapprove of the great divide in "opinion". Would He even approve of us calling those gray issues "opinion"?
God forbid we have the audacity to insert our opinion on those things He saw fit to give us direction on in His Word! It should be our heart's desire to rid ourselves of service to self and "opinion" and instead favor those things that God approves of and wants of those who seek to serve Him!
Thankfully, a very good result came in response to the lesson yesterday, even if it did rub everyone the wrong way--we are all meditating on God's Word with a passion today, studying something we never really thought was an "issue" before. Study to show thyself approved...indeed!