I ate a wonderful Salisbury steak the other day with a thick brown gravy. The gravy made me think of all the mystery meat I’ve eaten over the years both in the public school system and then later in the military. I realized that a nice gravy can make just about anything taste good.
I have always viewed denominational differences within Christianity as a case of “same meat, different gravy.” A person from an academic background might better relate to the intellectual aspects of God’s nature and seek out a church that emphasizes those facets. An artist might better relate to God’s beauty, and so forth.
Growing up, my father was pastor of a small Baptist church. Because it was the only church in town, our music leader was Methodist, our piano player Assemblies of God, our church secretary Catholic, and our membership a variety of other denominations. It was wonderful seeing so many Christians from such varied backgrounds united in worship and service to the same Lord and Savior!
I view this unity as ideal and get to experience it a little bit today through the homeschooling community, which tends to be predominately Christian, but of varied denominational backgrounds. Nonetheless, I think God does make provision for our unique personalities and needs by providing a variety of ways to worship and serve Him.
There are, however, a number of ways in which our uniqueness can become problematic:
- First is when the gravy is so thick and rich and nuanced that any flavor from the meat itself is completely lost.
We get so caught up in the methods and style of worship that we get distracted from the One who is the object of our worship! (John 4:24)
I’ve heard that gourmet chefs are offended when patrons at their restaurants call for steak sauce. How much more the God of the universe, when we think we can dress up the gospel message with our own personal flair! Our job is simply to lift Christ up and He will draw all men unto himself.(John 12:32; John 6:44)
- Second is when we add to the gospel message.
Have you ever bitten into some “mystery meat” and wondered what exactly you were eating?
The simple idea of “grace, through faith” needs no additives, and it needs no intermediary other than Christ alone. (Ephesians 2:8) If we find ourselves enthralled by someone or something other than Christ, we have drifted into idolatry and must repent and return to Him! (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)
- Third is when we take away from the gospel message.
We want to cut away the tough parts that are hard to chew.
We want everyone to like us, even when He tells us that we will be despised for His sake. (Matthew 5:10-12)
We want to keep doing our own thing, even when He tells us that love of Him leads to obedience of Him. (John 14:15)
We want lives of victory and affluence, even when He tells us that suffering and sacrifice await those that follow Him, yet joy and a deeper relationship with Him as a result. (2 Timothy 3:12)
If we can avoid these three errors, I think that there is a lot of “wiggle room” in how and when and where we serve and worship the One who uniquely created each of us in His own image.