Not long ago, I was part of a … well, I’ll call it a “lively” discussion about religion. See, we stopped attending church a while back when I had been working on Sundays. I’ve since found another church with a pastor who delivers great messages. All sermons are posted on their website for easy access. I’ve attended the church in person and found it very huge, and I felt pretty invisible. They recommend getting involved in a smaller church group. A separate gathering in addition to regular worship time is hard to work into our schedules right now.
To the point, though… our conversation was about why we’ve strayed from the church we used to attend. Part of that is the recitation of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. I agree with saying The Lord’s Prayer aloud. That’s in the Bible. The creeds are not. Someone in that conversation said that the creeds were taken from the Bible. That’s inaccurate. They were written at least 150 years after the authors all died. See this article for more info.
Matthew 6:5 – right where we are given The Lord’s Prayer – even tells us:
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
I have no other explanation for my hang-up with reciting the same thing every time I gather for worship like that. I don’t think it’s necessary, and it just feels strange to me. The pastor at this other church simply digs into the Bible. Of course, I haven’t made it a habit to attend there either. That’s really two-fold. I find pulling up the sermons online much more convenient and time efficient. Also, without joining a small group, there’s really no fellowship gained by attending such a large church in person.
OK, so there’s sort of a third fold. I’m disillusioned by many who attend church but don’t walk the walk. There’s this great instruction in the New Testament (Matthew 22):
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[d]38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e]40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Love your neighbor as yourself. Love others as yourself. Love one another. Don’t hate! Don’t be mean to others. Don’t tear others down. Don’t gossip about others. Don’t judge others. Matthew 7:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Under the Old Testament law, we are commanded not to lie. People lie all the time! We are also commanded not to covet. That’s probably the most difficult to avoid, especially in this day and age when everyone wants the latest and greatest technological gadgets. Want, want, want! We don’t turn our backs on our friends for wanting things they can’t afford, so why do some turn their backs on people for their choice in partners? Yes, I just went there. Homosexuality. But remember, love your neighbor as yourself.
I may not be the most outgoing person. I need time alone to recharge. I’m terrible at managing time and planning, so organizing anything to do for others in some spectacular way isn’t something I do. However, I am kind to people I encounter in every day life, no matter what their life choices may be. I’m sure some people have opinions (judgments) about me. That’s fine. I still love my neighbors as myself even if they don’t see it.