Church is something that becomes very personal, at least here in the West. Too often church also becomes a battlefield where the bloodshed of opposing opinions takes place. History tells us of controversies ranging from whether or not women should wear pants to the seductive rhythms where drums are present.
In recent days there has been church damaging battles over the appropriateness of hymns or choruses in the worship gathering. The battles also reach over into the sermon length as well. In one corner you might hear that a sermon is not a real sermon unless it is 60 minutes and over no more than two verses. In the other corner are those who define a sermon by twenty-five minutes and an alliteration of five to seven letters that includes marriage or finances.
There is another division that is a bit less obvious. It subtly glides below the surface of outward conversation, yet peeks through in smaller huddles. It is so subtle because it manifests itself in so many different ways.
One might say that a sermon should be deep into the details of each individual word in the passage and the pastor must explain the nuances of word meaning through displaying his parsing and diagraming abilities. Another might say that the details are for the seminary students, just help me feel better about my marriage, children, and money. I have exaggerated the two extremes a bit here, but if you begin listening you will hear the nuances of these two positions spoken of often when church becomes a topic of conversation.
Isn’t it so beautifully amazing that Jesus used these precise words in Luke 10:27, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” This is the greatest commandment, Jesus said.
Jesus is equally elevating our spiritual pursuits through our intellect, emotion, and physical bodies. This necessitates a relentless intellectual pursuit of gospel-driven theology. We must love God with ALL of our minds.
Jesus’ words elevate the value of emotion as well. We have to believe that He addresses these individually so that His audience would see the emphasis given to each one. This necessitates an authentic emotional engagement amidst our relationship with Jesus Christ.
He also draws our attention to a very physical element of our spiritual lives, our strength. We may think a lot and feel a lot, but the synergism at hand here is the combination of each of them in stride producing an all-encompassing life lived for the glory of Jesus Christ.
All that being said, let me be clear about where I see the proverbial rubber meeting the road. It is the bold proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ that should stir our hearts and inform our physical strength and suffering. Too often we want to bypass the truth and take the shortcut to an emotional high, and then we are surprised when it leaves us empty.
Is it a matter of preference? It is if we elevate either one over the other. Not only that, but it undermines the truth of scripture when we bypass the gospel to manipulate emotional experiences. The gospel of Jesus Christ is enough to send you on a mind-blowing ride that will transform you intellectually, emotionally, and physically.
Do you find your preferences or deficiencies driving you out of balance? What is it that causes you to elevate any one over the other?