Two very worthwhile blog comments, which cause me to rejoice and thank God. They are from two much younger men than I who give me cause to be encouraged about the future of those they lead.
I grew up in the deep South in the 70’s and 80’s. We grew up going to church where ordained ministers would hold services on Sundays. Perhaps it was only me, but I saw this as holy men performing holy services on holy days in holy places.
As I’ve continued to study Scripture, I see that my understanding while I was growing up is much closer to the Old Testament than to the New Testament. But, what’s the problem with that? The Old Testament is Scripture too, right?
Yes, but when it comes to things like the temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices, the Sabbath, and other aspects of life as the people of God in the New Testament, the New Testament tells us that these things are shadows of reality, and not reality themselves.
In other words, these things were all intended to point to something else, something bigger, something better. In fact, all of these things point forward to Christ, who fulfilled the whole law and became the better temple, high priest, sacrifice, and Sabbath.
Given my background, it is easy to switch back to thinking that there are holy days on which holy men do holy things in holy places. But, when this begins to cloud my understanding, I live in the shadows and not the reality of Christ. In Christ, all of God’s children are holy people; every day is a holy day; all opportunities to serve are holy offerings; and any place we are is a holy place, because we are the temple in which God dwells.
When do we live in the shadows? When we find ourselves asking questions like these: Should you do that on Sunday? Is there an ordained minister available to do that? Should they be doing that in the church [building]? Why is that person preaching [or teaching, or baptizing, or serving the Lord's Supper]?
These questions indicate a shift back into the shadowy thinking of the Old Testament. Today, in Christ, we have the realities available to us; we do not need the shadows.
"I Know What the Bible Says, But..."
I'll never forget the time I heard someone say, "I know what the bible says, but..."
A few years ago, while I was attending seminary, I had the opportunity to preach for a church whose pastor was on vacation. I arrived at the building on Sunday morning and was greeted by some very nice folks. As was expected, I was given about 30 minutes to speak to them. Everything was fine.
After the service, one of the deacons and his wife took me out for lunch. We had a good conversation, the food was good, and (bonus) he picked up the bill.
Despite all this, what really sticks out for me is what he said at one point during the meal. We were talking about their church and, specifically, their deacons. He told me that they have ladies serving as deacons. Then he said, "I know what the bible says, but..." He then went on to justify ladies serving as deacons based on pragmatic reasons.
My point in this post is NOT to debate whether or not women should serve as deacons. I know there is a lot involved in that discussion.
Rather, my point is that this man, who I'm sure has good intentions, based his view on women deacons on pragmatics. He actually believes that their church is violating scripture but that this is somehow acceptable because it works.
It is easy to fault this man. Instead of doing that, let's take a hard look at our own lives. How often do we say we believe one thing but then live another way? How many times do we believe the bible says one thing, but then turn around and do the opposite? How many times do we do things just because "they work"?
Most Christians say they believe the bible. Most say they believe the bible is our final authority. We all say these things. But do we really believe it?
If we dare, let's take a hard look at our lives to see where we are in reality saying, "I know what the bible says, but..."