The Problem with Preference (10)
Updated: Sep 14
Preoccupied and Prayerless Series order #10
*See Order Index post for links to all Series content -https://www.trajectoryministries.com/post/preoccupied-and-prayerless-series
All Videos can be viewed at -https://www.trajectoryministries.com/videos or on the Trajectory Ministries Facebook page
I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3
Preferences. They seem harmless, right? Afterall, we each have things we prefer, things we like and dislike - but living in a have it your way culture and having the ability to choose what we prefer can begin to permeate every area of our lives, including church and our pure devotion to Christ.
Marty talked about being preoccupied with preference in the most recent video and used the illustration of a wedding. For those of you who have planned a wedding in the past decade or been the parent of the bride or groom, you know first hand that weddings have become a big business. There seems to be unending options for every detail.
Although traditional wedding etiquette has been changing, it's still the bride who takes center stage. It's her day and all eyes are on her... her dress, her veil, her flowers, her entry... and everyone stands and watches as she makes her way down the aisle to her very own bridal march. The groom, on the other hand, seems to simply appear at the front, wearing a rented tux, without so much as a groom tune.
It was an apt illustration of a church culture that seems preoccupied with preference. One in which we can allow our preferences and focus on the church (the bride) to overshadow the importance of Jesus (the bridegroom).
Most of us in America have a choice between several churches in our community, especially in the more populated areas. We have a choice about what our church looks like and how things are done. Unfortunately, because we have the ability to choose, we can begin to get a little irritated when our preferences are ignored, things are done in a way we didn't care for or something we like is changed.
It can become more like another big business with options to fit every preference... and if we don't keep our heart in check, we can become a consumer looking for what we like, what entertains us or gives us the most variety - rather than a devoted follower of Jesus Christ who has come to worship Him with our church family.
Marty and I have seen a great deal change in church ministry over the past 30 years, but one thing that has remained the same is that someone is always unhappy due to personal preferences not being met. It can range from the man of God the church voted in as the pastor to the color of paint used in the bathroom. Most will simply grumble or complain about things in the car on their drive home, but there are those few who feel the need to make sure everyone knows they don't like this or don't agree with that, spreading negativity, even to the point of creating division within the Body of Christ.
We could spend days picking apart the surface issues that we tend to focus on when it comes to problems and conflicts caused by individual preferences colliding, but no amount of discussion will change the underlying issue. The reason differing preferences become a source of contention and division is (and will always be) a matter of the heart.
Pride, power, control, entitlement, selfishness, unforgiveness, past hurts, bitterness and lostness are all prevalent heart issues that can cause conflict within the church - and it is the condition of our heart that matters most to God, because it is the condition of our heart that will determine how we react and how we choose to move forward in any situation, in the midst of any circumstance, toward any person.
The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought (1 Chron 28:9)
We can't see or change the hearts of others or understand their desires and thoughts, but Jesus can - and thankfully that's His job, not ours.
So what's our part in all of this? What should we do?
Acknowledge that it is our responsibility to make sure our own heart is in the right place. And thankfully Jesus didn't leave us to struggle with this on our own. He gave us His Spirit to guide us in Truth and help us discern the thoughts and intentions of our own heart through God's Word.
Get into God's Word. Ask Him to show you if you have been preoccupied with preference, led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Him. Ask Him to help you discern the thoughts and intentions of your heart toward His Church.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
Jesus looks at the heart of His followers who are gathered to worship Him, not their outward appearance, the look of the church building or style of the worship service. It is the hearts of His people that He sees. It doesn't matter if they worship Him in a brick building, barn or cave, whether the floor is laminate, carpet or dirt, whether there are chandeliers, fluorescent bulbs or candles, whether the pastor's wearing a tie behind a pulpit, skinny jeans on a stool or flip flops in the sand or whether there's a choir, praise team or no music at all - as long as their hearts are focused on Him in sincere worship and praise.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
When the gamut of human emotions and personal preferences that we tend to spend so much time focusing on are removed from the equation. When the layers of what the world focuses on are stripped away. What can no longer be hidden is the condition of one’s heart.
It's quite possible that some of us have been focused on our preferences for so long that we've forgotten the purpose of the Church and our purpose within the Church.
Here are some questions that may help you in discerning where your heart is today -
Have your personal preferences and happiness become more important to you than the health of your church or your desire to be an active, functioning part of the Body of Christ?
If you're a parent or guardian, has your child's personal preferences or happiness become more important than the condition of their heart or their understanding of what it means and looks like to be an active, functioning part of a local church body?
When the gamut of personal preferences, looks and styles that we tend to spend so much time focusing on are removed and your heart is laid bare before Jesus. Is it about you and your preferences or is it still all about Him?
Did you come to see the bride or the bridegroom?
Before Jeses went to the cross, you and I were on His mind... I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me. John 17:20–23
May we set our mind and heart fully on our Savior, united as one in Spirit and Truth - so that the world can see the power of The Gospel, unhindered.
Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. In Jesus' name, Amen