Saturday, November 19, 2005

Passing (or Failing) the "Test"

In the past three years at Cedarbrook, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon. Occassionally, someone will come up to me or call me and ask me a series of questions. Questions like; What denomination are you? Do you say the Lord's Prayer on Sunday? Do you baptize infants or adults? Do you allow women in leadership positions? Do you preach "once saved, always saved."

Now, in one respect, there's nothing wrong with these questions. People certainly have the right to know the answer to these questions and most others. Many people are trying to find out if Cedarbrook is like the church that they are used to attending. But it always makes me feel a bit odd. I feel like I'm being tested and I can almost guarantee that whenever I'm asked these questions, I fail the test! In fact, sometimes I'll good-naturedly tease people a bit by smiling and asking, "How'd I do? Did I pass?"

I think what makes me uneasy (especially when the questions are more theological in nature) is that people are presuming that what THEY believe about God is true. And if Cedarbrook doesn't believe what they believe, then we are wrong. That may be. I don't make any claim to having the corner on all truth.

But it's important to remember that every church in the New Testament had its share of bad theology. The apostle Paul didn't write his letters to the churches merely to affirm how well they were doing. He often wrote them to correct their bad theology. Yet, in spite of this, lives were being changed and set free and miracles were being performed. I don't know about you, but I much rather attend the Church at Corinth, with all their problems and experience the gifts of the Spirit, than attend some church that has perfect theology but bores me to tears. It's so sad to see people walk away from a church experience that I know will bless them simply because my answers failed their test.

Let me suggest some better questions if you are ever looking for a church:

  • Are lives being changed here ?
  • Do people get to know God better here ?
  • Is the fruit of God's Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, etc.) manifested in people's lives ?
  • Do people learn not only how to know the Bible but how to live the Bible ?
  • Do people that attend here become better people ?

Now that's a "test" that I think I could pass!