Linus and Charlie Brown were building a sand castle. As they worked Linus was telling Charlie Brown about the girl in sunday school that had caught his eye. His comments were tinged with sadness, however, as he observed that the little girl’s family had switched churches. Upon hearing this, Charlie Brown replied, “That’ll change your theology in a hurry.”
Charles Schultz, the author of the famous cartoon series, was on to something. In America, church choice has little to do with the truth and a lot to do with what we like, with convenience and so forth. Over the years I have seen folks change their denominational association for no other reason than the pastor is nice, the programs are good, the church building is close to home or there is lots for the kids to do. Shultz was simply observing that choosing a church may have nothing to do with the intrinsic truth of what is being preached, taught and believed.
This fits well into the America mindset. We find argument over beliefs to be distasteful. The line from Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Mikado’ says it well; “I am right and you are right and we’re both as right as right can be.” Or, there is the famous line from President Dwight Eisenhower; “America is built on firmly held religious principles, and I don’t care what they are.”
Does making affectations, comforts and perceived needs the basis for church life have any basis in the reality of what the Church actually is? I think not. The Christian faith is, at its heart, a truth claim. And that claim is quite straightforward. Jesus Christ is the last word concerning God, humanity and the destiny of the world. Whatever church community we may be in, making this message known is the essential business, or ought to be.
More on this tomorrow.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”