This post first appeared in the Christianity for Life blog
I remember back in the 70’s after I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior (only to backslide – but that’s another story), I was obsessed with the idea of being filled with the Holy Spirit. I had read the book, “They Speak with Other Tongues” by John L. Sherrill, and wanted to experience for myself the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit described in that book (still a favorite of mine).
In my vain search for a proper ‘technique’ to achieve tongues (don’t laugh), I noticed that a small local church of no particular denomination had strung a banner over the church entrance announcing a “Holy Spirit Series”. My home Pentecostal church hadn’t taken me very far in my quest so I thought I’d give these folks a try – they seemed to specialize in the Holy Spirit! So the following Sunday my wife Donna and I showed up at their door with our two kids in tow, expecting to pick up some new insight into the workings of the Holy Spirit that might take me a little closer to my elusive goal.
To this day I don’t know who these folks were (the little church is a shop selling musical instruments now), but they were a strange lot. They welcomed Donna and I into their tiny sanctuary but we couldn’t shake the feeling that our very presence was making them uncomfortable. All the women in the room were wearing hats. All except Donna, that is.
The sermon was about why women should wear hats in church. No mention of the Holy Spirit. And on our way out, we were handed a pamphlet explaining why women need to wear hats in church.
Their entire raison d’être seemed to be to get women to wear hats in church. They didn’t seem concerned about salvation, the Christian life, or the kingdom of God. As long as nobody forgot their hat!
This is an extreme but true example of how we Christians sometimes lose sight of what we’re about. Our great commission, given by Jesus Himself is to, “…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”
He didn’t say, “…and don’t forget your hat”.
Neither did He say, “…and make sure you say the right words when you baptize someone, or it won’t work”.
He also didn’t say, “Divide yourselves into denominations and, until I return, spend your time debating which is the ONE TRUE CHURCH, or whether or not the Sabbath occurs on Saturday or Sunday”.
Its not difficult to know what Jesus DID say. Many Bibles highlight His every word in red ink. But many of us waste our time debating points He didn’t raise, words He never uttered, and concerns He didn’t express.
Forget about sharing the good news of God’s gift of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, let’s expend our energy and resources debating the gender of God in liturgical publications!
You know what I mean.
The message in Romans 10:9 is simple, “…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved”.
Just don’t forget your hat.
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