A little internal turmoil will really get you thinking, but, before I get in to all that, perhaps a short history is required. I grew up in a Catholic church and the large majority of my large family is Catholic with varying degrees of devotion. When I was 12, my parents got a divorce and through that process, my mom left the Catholic church. We began attending a church called Inland Community Church and we were very happy there. My mom wished for more hymns instead of the praise music, but she loved the verse-by-verse teaching of the Bible. She grew as a Christian and we grew to become Christians. It was at this church that I was baptized as a believer. However, problems eventually arose (as they usually do) and we discovered the youth pastor struggled in sexual sin (with the girls of his youth group) and the associate pastor was stealing from the church. After an all out confrontation with the church leadership, my family and several others, left the church and found a Calvary Chapel. Calvary was a breath of fresh air for sermons that had gone downhill since we first began attending ICC. Calvary Chapel’s are known for their verse-by-verse Bible teaching and their back to basics style. They are good, Bible believing people, but… they seem to take things a little too lax, like wearing blue jeans to church among other things. It was really the blue jeans that got to me first, which is why I mention them.
Last July, I had the opportunity to confront this ideology head-on and I started wearing skirts more often. I felt convicted to dress modestly and femininely, not something I could accomplish well wear tight blue jeans. I found an article on headcovering and tried that out, but it became too much of a challenge and I stopped. I was still wearing skirts and I still believe skirts should be the staple of a woman’s wardrobe. The one MAJOR thing I was lacking was a community of like-minded believers. This is what I craved. I started looking for churches, and even found an Independent Fundamental Baptist church in town, but we were moving and I was still unsure of myself and my convictions and felt like rocking the boat wasn’t the best decision for this moment in time. I am still looking for a group to belong to and that is what worries me, the fear that I will choose my beliefs based on group participation and less on what is actually correct.
Here’s where I get down to the real nitty gritty. One of the most frustrating things I am dealing with right now is the name-calling. Everyone takes a stand on so many different issues, from Calvinism to Arminianism, skirt length, headcovers, beards, lifestyle (agrarianism), homeschool method, child-raising, Bible version…so on and so forth. What really gets difficult is that (particularly in the Calvinism versus Arminianism debate) we label the “opposition”. The Arminians call the Calvinists heretics and the Calvinists call the Arminians apostates. All the other issues follow along with these two groups and I just get so frustrated!
What am I to be: an apostate or a heretic?
And what concerns me even more is that, unlike my mom, who was convicted to leave the Catholic church after seeing that confession wasn’t right and that Catholicism created people that “did” church on Sunday by just putting in their time (the real story is about the women chewing gum and gabbing behind my mom through the portion of the mass just after communion where the Catholic is at their most “holy” because they have just consumed the body and blood of Jesus Christ…I remember thinking that I had better pray quickly before he was digested out of me and I would be left powerless…anyway, these women got in the way of my mom’s worship of her Savior (yet another aside, my mom was a Bible-reading Catholic) and we left the church.) and the failure of the priest to absolve her sin of divorce, I feel like I just want to belong to a group!
Of course, I want to please God in what I do and that truly is first and foremost in my mind, but lately I have been wondering what exactly I am supposed to do. I am tired of being “tossed by the waves” and I fear for doing the wrong thing. I am okay with following whatever “rules” need to be followed, I just need to know that I am following God and not man, nor man’s interpretation of God. I think at the root here is this utter frustration with who I am and where I stand in God’s kingdom. Am I really a part of it? Are my actions sanctifying me? Am I truly serving God my wearing skirts, covering my head and choosing hymns over modern praise and worship? Are these things really important? And why, why do we demean other Christians? To separate ourselves from them, to define ourselves better? Does that not also cause us to puff up ourselves, just a little? We agree that Christ is the Savior of this world and that we are only saved by grace, through faith, right? Does the rest of it even matter? I imagine that the God who took the time to send His own Son to die on a cross for us would have some details about how to live and how to worship Him. Does it all really hang on Matthew 22: 37-40,
Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’
What does that mean? Does that mean that that love really is the bottom line…that “all you need is love?” What does it mean to have the law and prophets hanging on it? I would dearly love some answers here. Nothing has tried my faith so much as this.