Thursday, September 3, 2015
I am an elitist.
I hear all the time why we cannot do this or that or why people have different preferences or why somethings do not matter (if we set our sights low). But I instinctively rebel against the idea that the Church should settle for the lowest common denominator of whatever it is. And because of that there are those who would call me an elitist. Well, I am an elitist – because I’d rather be an elitist than a mediocratist. I do not believe that Christ died to excuse us from doing anything that was not easy or what we wanted to do. I thought He died for us so that we who live should not live for ourselves but for Him? Ever, only, all for Thee. . . as the hymnwriter put it.
Yes, it is true that people have busy schedules but should we waive the expectation of being in the Lord's House on the Lord's Day around the Word and Table of the Lord because some work or others have a lake house or others have kids in a travel soccer league or others only get to sleep in or get groceries or do their laundry on Sunday morning?
Yes, it is true that many folks have no interest in things religious (or Biblical) so does that mean we should not expect people to be in Bible study or go through catechism instruction or keep learning and growing in the knowledge of the Scriptures and in the faith?
Yes, it is true that not everyone likes classical music (a bogus charge here because hardly any of our hymnody and less of other music is actually classical) but does that mean we follow the majority rules when it comes to musical preference OR should we require that we use the best of new and old that faithfully bespeaks the text and is the best of our ability?
Yes, it is true that not everyone likes to dress up or even has dressy clothing but does that mean that our comfort is the primary value of what we put on our bodies for worship OR should we wear modest clothing and that which adorns our bodies externally as is our internal character of our best for His glory?
Yes, it is true that not everyone can give that much (whatever that means) but does that mean we should give leftovers after we take care of all our wants and needs first or what is easy to give because its costs us nothing OR should we give equal sacrifice acknowledging that this will not result in equal gifts to the Lord?
Yes, it is true that not everyone can or should or likes to sing but does that mean we should ignore the universal Biblical call to sing to the Lord, to make music to His name, and to worship Him with instrument and voice OR should we all do our best at voice and instrument in praise to God for His glory?
Yes, it is true that not everyone can stand or sit or kneel comfortably or perhaps at all but does that mean the rest of us should also refrain from exerting ourselves OR should we all do as much as we are able in the various postures of worship? I once had someone say we should not kneel because he or she could not kneel. How selfish is that? If I can't, you should not either? How about we all actually try to do as much as are genuinely able when it comes to all the postures of worship?
Yes, it is true that not everyone can teach Sunday school, or witness easily or comfortably or enjoys reading. . . but does not mean we cancel Sunday school or fail to tell the story of Jesus or watch TV in lieu of reading the Bible or should we work to learn to do these things for the greater good of God and His kingdom. Yes, I know that not everyone wants to be Lutheran, knows the catechism, enjoys Lutheran hymns, etc... but does that mean that Lutheran is merely a church preference among equal choices OR do we take our Lutheran confessions and convictions seriously and believe that this is the most faithful expression of God's Word that we can be? Yes, I know that not everyone likes the taste of wine (or communion hosts) but does that mean we choose our preferences or hold to Jesus choices in the institution of His Supper? Yes, I know that sin and repentance are old fashioned, yesterday's news, and can easily be misunderstood by folks outside the church (much less by those inside). But does that mean we substitute messages people want to hear for the one Word that saves, that delivers from sin and bestows eternal life.
There you have it. I am an elitist. I believe in our best for His glory, faithfulness to His Word over human preference, striving for that which endures over that which fits the moment and is trash tomorrow, over all of us struggling to do/be our best for Him who has given His best for us. I fear that mediocrity is killing the church, that the casual treatment of the truth damns us before God and merits hardly a raised eyebrow from the world, and that making things as easy as possible does not build God's kingdom. I seem to recall that Jesus' disciples found it all too hard and would have ditched Him in a minute were not He alone the source and giver of eternal life. So just maybe Jesus is an elitist, too. After all He insisted that we must exceed the professional good workers of the Pharisees if we wanted eternal life. In other words, good intentions counted for nothing and only perfect righteousness would do -- the righteousness that is His gift and our clothing in baptism.