God Just Wants Your Heart
I have the unique experience of ministering in both a Baptist tradition and the Episcopal tradition. It makes many people scratch their heads and ask a few questions, but I have truly been blessed because of my experiences in both.
One thing I have heard as a critique of denominations that have high church roots is "they just go through the motions, but don't really believe" or "they are not real Christians." High church rooted churches can be described as "the bells and smells" kind of church. There may be robed clergy, stain glass windows, incense are used, candles, and detailed or elaborate celebrations of communion. I don't know the history of where the idea originated that the churches that are "high church" just go through the motions or are not real Christians come from. I suspect its roots in the era where congregationalist and baptist started to emerge.
I believe the beat of the questioning suspicions come from "are people putting the importance of a relationship with God/Jesus as prime importance?" I believe it is important that people following Jesus have a relationship with him. I also believe that anyone seeking after Jesus is in a relationship with Jesus. Finally, I also believe that people most concerned with other people's faith and calling out others need to reflect on themselves. I have truly seen Christians from all backgrounds, traditions, and denominations seek to follow Jesus with their whole heart and give God their heart.
In many denominations, including my own, I have also witnessed those that have become lethargic, going through the motions, and doing it (Church) to do it. I don't believe certain worship practices lead to "going through the motions." It is the position of the heart that leads to lethargy and heartless practice. God is after our hearts. However, we practice, express, and show our faith we must do it willingly with a heart of desire and joy. If you make sure to go on a date every Saturday night to a particular restaurant with your significant other, it can be a powerful practice that deepens your relationship. However, if it becomes a habit and there is no relationship happening when you're together, it is not fruitful. Making a commitment to eat together is different than committing to share your heart over a meal. Are you meeting to eat or are you meeting to deepen your relationship and put your relationship as a priority?
Yes, sometimes our hearts are not in it. There are moments or seasons where we allow the church, the service, the music, the prayers, etc to carry us. That is different than doing it to do it. Sometimes we are hurting or suffering; sometimes, we are numb or doubting. There is a difference between it being a season and the posture of your heart. Again, God wants our hearts. Hearts that are growing and transforming to be in a deep relationship, diving deeper into an intimacy that changes who we are and how we interact with people and the world around us.
I close with this, I had a professor that said we should not be looking for the people who are in or out, but the people moving towards the center. It is not about who is doing and saying the right things that we measure discipleship. We measure discipleship by who is moving closer to Jesus.
Are you moving closer to the center? Are you moving towards Jesus. Are you actively seeking to help others move towards the center? Or, do you find yourself trying to find the boundaries and judge who is in our out of the boundaries?
At BCM, we would like to invite you to join us in moving towards the center.