- Out of Phase #1 – Being a Servant
- Out of Phase #2 – Boundaries
- Out of Phase #3 – Responsibilities
- Out of Phase #4 – Rules
- Out of Phase #5 – Emotions
- Out of Phase #6 – Work
- Out of Phase #7 – Christian Quips
- Out of Phase #8 – Reasons & Responsibilities
- Out of Phase #9 – Religion
- Out of Phase #10 – Enough
- Out of Phase #11 – Retreat
- Out of Phase #12 – Healthy Relationships
- Out of Phase #13 – Words
- Out of Phase #14 – Depth and Breadth – Impact
- Out of Phase #15 – Control
- Out of Phase #16 – Tradition
- Out of Phase #17 – Pain
- Out of Phase #18 – Our Story
- Out of Phase #19 – Peace
- Out of Phase #20 – Hopes, Dreams & Desires
- Out of Phase #21 – Good Things Bad Things
- Out of Phase #22 – Keeping our Focus
- Out of Phase #23 – Transactions
- Out of Phase #24 – Formula
- Out of Phase #25 – Community
I know people (maybe you do, too) and I’ve been one of those people (maybe you have, too) who cannot wrap their mind around doing something differently. I know songwriters who are adamant that the correct way to write a song is by first creating a strong melody. And other writers insist it is all about the story so the lyrics must be crafted first.
I know some people who are utterly convinced that there is only one acceptable translation of the Bible, one style of music that should be used in our churches, and let’s not even talk about the particulars around Jesus’ second coming.
There are certainly absolute rights and wrongs, non-negotiable things, the “do not pass go & do not collect $200” sort of things in life, But not everything is cut and dried. As one of my former pastors used to say, “There is black, there is white, and there’s a whole lot of grey.”
Those grey areas are not those things that seek to compromise or water down truth, but rather the various ways in which God’s truth is lived out in each of our cultures, our faith and family traditions, and through our personal convictions. To me, there’s no better example of this than that of Jesus’ followers during his earthly ministry. Numbered among them was a zealot, a tax collector, common fishermen, a former prostitute, and others. Each of them obviously had a passion for their faith in and love for Jesus, yet they all came from vastly different backgrounds and had their own opinions and convictions. Still, they were united in their shared belief in Jesus the Messiah.
There was a time in my life when I was very dogmatic about exactly how to live out the Christian faith, what you did, how you did it, and had a long list of things you certainly didn’t even think about doing. Through the years of traveling in ministry over a wide swath of our great country and occasionally even out of its borders, my family and I have participated in worship not only in many Christian denominations, but also in several cultures. This has allowed me to observe the same Jesus I seek to serve worshipped in many different settings, styles, and traditions.
At first these differences can be somewhat shocking or unsettling, but I have come to so appreciate not only the depth but the breadth in which Jesus can be served and worshipped.
However, as with the previous twenty-one blogs in this series, when we seek to defend our traditions and when we cling to the belief that our particular way of following Jesus is the only way, we have allowed our traditions to knock us out of phase. There is nothing wrong in and of themselves with traditions—until we make them the focus of our service, or until they become canonized in our hearts and minds as the only way to live out our faith. Our traditions came about as a tool to aid us in our worship of and focus on Christ, not the exclusive lens through which we gaze upon Him in all His goodness.
When our faith traditions become our focus, when our personal convictions become doctrine, and our thoughts and opinions become the correct interpretation of scripture, they not only rob us of the joy of their intended purpose—a means through which our focus is kept in phase—but they eclipse the very thing they were meant to enhance.
Keeping our focus squarely on Christ (in phase) allows us the freedom to enjoy our faith traditions to the fullest degree, while appreciating and even enjoying the freedom to participate in worship with those from different cultures or denominations.