I Went For Lunch; What I Had Was Church
I was downstairs in the middle of browbeating my recalcitrant 1984 Dodge Ramcharger into running like a good little 4WD Hot Rod, when Peg came down to put some trash in the trash can; she then asked if I was ready to come up for lunch. I took 30 seconds to hook up one final wire that'd come loose (I really DO want it to charge the battery while it's running, after all), and then went up for lunch.
Now, I should start by saying I'm a ketchup (catsup for you Easterners) addict. Fanatic. Junkie. In fact, I'm so happy they're now advertising the stuff as being chock-full of Good Things, like antioxidants, which I previously thought was something they put in Simoniz to keep the paint on your car all pretty. That gives me a lot more freedom to slop the stuff around.
In fact, I love condiments in general. I put mustard on liver, vinegar on greens, lots of dressing on salads, Durkee's sauce on Reubens, and ketchup on everything else. In my diet, condiments are the seventh Food Group.
Anyway, when I got upstairs, I found a lovely plate that looked a lot like the picture over there. Chopped Steak with Onions, and mixed veggies (but no frou-frou tomato thingie).
With a bottle of Heinz' best sitting alongside.
Now I also ought to say Peg is NOT a big ketchup consumer. A little here, a little there, but she'd never ask for any of that when she orders a quarter pounder and fries. Me, I tell them to throw a handful in the sack, and that's rarely enough.
SO .. here she'd worked over the stove, slicing and cooking the onions, shaping and cooking the chopped steak and the veggies, and then setting them there for me. And putting the ketchup bottle there, too.
I was about a quarter-way through the meal when she said "I put the ketchup there for you", to which I replied "I thought I'd rather eat it just the way you fixed it".
She said, softly, "Thank you".
I wonder if God feels the same way about us. I don't think He ever needs to thank anybody for anything, but Peg's expression of thanks told me that she valued the fact that I wanted to honor her preparation, as it were, by not adding a lot of stuff to it, just to suit my personal tastes. And I can't help but wonder what God thinks when we go 'way beyond what scripture instructs us to do, to suit our own personal preferences. Such things as adding to what the Bible says about baptism, what the Bible says about communion, what the Bible says about teaching (and not just what one Biblical writer said He didn't do or not do), what the Bible says about how we're to be saved, etc.
You get the idea.
Tell me how the things we've added to what the Bible says, and what it clearly commands us to do, are different from what the Pharisees and Chief Priests did in response to what the sacred writings available to them, in their day, instructed them to do.
I don't see much difference.
And what does it look like to God, when we deny fellowship or cooperation to, say, Presbyterians, who by and large have a much better understanding of what they believe, and who can back it up just as well with scripture, as we can with what we believe (the BF&M) and all the things we do. And, in my experience, those guys are much more active (and probably effective) in their witnessing and evangelism efforts, than we are.
I used to read mystery/spy novels about a sort of "American James Bond". Their super-secret organization was about doing what was beneficial for the people, regardless of the law, rather than doing what was beneficial for the law, without regard for the people.
Naturally, THAT little thought brought me back to Dr. Sheri Klouda, and her plight (brought on by one Seminary head's unilateral "interpretation" of a bible passage (which is questionable to me, regardless of his credentials), enforced unilaterally without any real consideration of the people. I'll be very, very surprised if that whole transaction did anything in the heavenlies beyond angering God. Anger over one in such a "high position" apparently using scripture to enforce personal preferences, and anger over trustees who seem more attuned to "keeping the peace" (and the status quo), seemingly desiring those things over doing the right thing.
Sometimes I think the SBC is feasting on so many condiments that we're missing the entree.
I think it's time we tuned in on God's preferences. I don't think we are.