Dead As A Doornail

I once visited a church with different traditions. I felt their ideas about worship were inferior to mine because their worship service was not done properly: the way that I was used to it being done. I now realize that I was wrong for judging them for being different. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 6:37)

I was placing myself in greater jeopardy by judging them, than they were placing themselves in by practicing different customs. (Mt 7:1-5) Will God condemn someone because his style of worship is not exactly like our church's? Not if he is acting according to his convictions, and his convictions do not contradict scripture. (Romans 14)

Is it acceptable for people to do or to believe anything they desire? Of course not. For example, the Bible says we should be baptized (immersed). (Mt 28:19) That is clear enough. Where the Bible speaks, we should speak. But where the Bible is silent, we should be silent, as well. Whether we speak or are silent, our words or our silence should express Christ's love, not self-righteous condemnation.

Remember that the manner in which you partake of communion is more important than the rituals surrounding it. "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Cor 11:17ff)

I once thought people who wore jeans to church were disrespectful and did not care how they presented themselves before the Lord. But then I examined my prayer life. Do I candy-coat my prayers to make my thoughts, words, and actions sound nicer? Do I dress up my prayers to make my life look better? Do I hide or cover up my sins? No. I openly admit my sins to receive forgiveness and help in resisting temptations. Should I candy-coat my words at church to make myself sound nicer? Should I wear fancy clothes at church to make my life look better? No. Pray sincerely, and you will not have to worry about how you speak or dress.

Must we always be so neat and clean? Sometimes we must roll up our sleeves and get some dirt under our fingernails. Do not be more concerned with physical appearances (which are temporary) than you are with spiritual health (which is eternal). Roll up your sleeves and dig into the Lord's work!

I once thought clapping in church was very undignified. But should we look like we are in mourning and sound like we are singing a funeral dirge? Christ arose from the dead! There is no reason to mourn! So let us clap our hands as a sign of celebration! And let us sing with joy!

The first time I heard someone say "Amen" during a sermon, I thought it was very disruptive. But now I think, what will it hurt to be disrupted a bit? Some people may need jarred from their peaceful slumber, or startled to get their attention once more. An occasional "Amen" lets everyone know we are in agreement, that we are a cohesive unit. Are we a cohesive unit? Then let's "Amen" like we are!

"I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (1 Cor 1:10) We must be careful not to judge other people by how they worship. And we should not look down on denominational churches and more contemporary churches simply because they are different. We may even enrich our own worship by observing theirs.

It is tragic how many "Christians" are dividing and tearing down the body of Christ by magnifying its differences, when they should be magnifying the name of Jesus. They don't want to build up the church. They want to strangle the life from the church until it is as dead as a doornail. All they do is put up stumbling blocks and obstacles to building the church.

Let us remove the stumbling blocks. Let us tear down the obstacles. We WILL build the church again. Christ has provided the planks from the cross (His life) to build the church. And we have provided the nails (our lives) for those planks. Praise God that we are dead (as a doornail)! (Romans 6:10-11) Let us drive ourselves securely into the planks of our church, and into Jesus' heart. Let Christ turn our death into life. Life for ourselves... Life for our church... And life for our community!

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