Is God Big Enough to Be in Your Church and Mine?
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
But it was the Same God.
I recently attended worship in a Christian church culturally not my own. In such a situation, often the differences are what initially bombard the senses. Incense and icons. Chanting of unfamiliar music. Robes of gold and an exquisitely painted dome.
I was reminded of other ‘different’ services I’d experienced in other lands — preaching from a flat-bed truck in Malawi, on the beach in Thailand, gathering in a dark hut in northern Kenya, and sitting in the back pew of a Mediterranean camp church where it was literally “all Greek to me.” Here in the USA I’ve worshiped in gymnasiums, cathedrals, tents, stone chapels and yes, even a Kentucky country church with snake-handlers!
Yet in all these places the same Jesus Christ was lifted up and worshiped. Personally, I would rather embrace my common beliefs with other Christians, rather than focus on our differences. True, there are distinct differences. But we have the same Scripture and the same Lord and Saviour.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (I Timothy 2.5)
Why not build bridges instead of erecting walls?
That said, I do acknowledge that ‘different’ can often be uncomfortable. It is human nature to seek the solace of the familiar. And far too often our insecurities prompt criticism — “Why do they sing choruses instead of hymns?” or “Why do they sing hymns instead of choruses?” or “Why do they chant instead of singing hymns and choruses?”
Do you think God is actually Big Enough to receive our praise and worship in a whole world full of creative ways? Do you think perhaps that our prayers reach God’s ears whether they are totally spontaneous or whether we pray from the heart the words of an ancient prayer? I do both. And, I assure you, God hears.
Because God knows the heart of the worshiper. He knows whether or not we are focused on Him, committed to Him, believing the words we sing and recite. Somehow I don’t think God cares as much about the form as we do. He cares that we trust and believe and hope and worship.
“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” (Romans 15.5-7 NLT)
And whether God’s people gather in an urban storefront or an underground cellar or yes, even an ornate sanctuary, He is among us.
Frankly, I’m not crazy about religious labels. I am a Christ follower. That’s all that really matters. My home of worship is currently (and has been for 28 years) the oldest church in the state of Connecticut. Gathered in 1635, our sanctuary is called The Meetinghouse and we worship in a Puritan white simple edifice with doored pews and a high pulpit and absolutely no decoration whatsoever! In fact, it remains the same as when George Washington and Jonathan Edwards worshiped here hundreds of years ago.
And it couldn’t be a more different atmosphere than the church mentioned in my opening.
Yet here I find God. As do hundreds who attend our three Sunday services. Do you find God where you worship? Isn’t that what truly matters?
After all, it’s not about me. It’s about Him.
Last weekend I was privileged to speak with God’s people in a setting different from my home church. God met us there and all who attended were welcomed into fellowship. I thank God that He is Big Enough to be everywhere.
”Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13.8)
under the mercy, Lucinda
“Helping You Choose a Life of Serenity and Strength”
©2019 Lucinda Secrest McDowell www.EncouragingWords.net
NOTE: Did you enjoy this blog? If so, would you consider entering your email in the above right form and subscribing to it by email? I assure you I won’t overload your in-box, but would love to send you these ‘encouraging words’ each Wednesday. Thanks!