I’m not one of those guys who thinks there are no absolutes. You know those people, the ones who are convinced every answer is the right answer and that truth is relative. They usually wear tie-dye shirts and drive 30 year old vans with couches in the back (you know who you are). That’s definitely not me.
But I have to be honest, I’m getting tired of the litany of arguments flying around the Church that somehow place unrelated things on a sliding scale with one another. Seeker-sensitive vs. Bible-based. Missional vs. Attractional. Large vs. Authentic. I think we’re so bent on placing spiritual labels on things that either define our preferences or challenge our natural tendencies that we end up having completely irrelevant dialog. Have you noticed your own propensity to spiritualize your own personal preferences? (I guess I’m the only one?)
Who placed these things on a sliding scale anyway? Why does being cognizant of the spiritual condition and Biblical knowledge of those who find their way into our weekly worship environments suddenly mean we can no longer be Bible or truth based? (If you want my honest opinion, I think we WAY over-estimate the Biblical understanding of long-time church attenders anyway). Who decided that having more than 200 people in your congregation suddenly meant you could no longer be genuine, vulnerable, authentic, or effective? Why does building a weekend worship environment that attracts a crowd automatically mean you can’t missionally care about the city you’re in (or vice versa)? Where was I when we had the meeting that put these things on a comparative continuum?
The truth is we’re greedy, jealous, broken people. Yep…me too. We thrive on comparison and impulsively throw stones at things we either don’t understand or that offend our religious culture or sensibilities. Those who love the status quo angrily accuse those exploring new modes of expression of leaving “the way.” And those who have grown tired of bowing to the way it’s always been done often swing the pendulum so hard in the other direction that the baby and the bathwater go spiraling down the drain. We’ve allowed ourselves to be defined by our worst abuses.
If the goal of the church is to accurately reflect Jesus to the world (the Bible refers to us as His body), I think we’ll find that the answer isn’t in sliding our personal expressions up and down a man-made continuum in search of the one perfect answer, but in truly and completely embracing the character and nature of the One we follow. He has an uncanny way of messing with my view of reality.
If that means I need to invest in some tie-dye and a ’74 Dodge van, I guess I better get to shopping.