One morning at our coffee group, sometimes referred to as the ‘gathering’ or the ‘Sanhedrin’, we discussed the wide variations in our personal tastes. The range of items considered was from food to cars and beyond. As discussions often do, ours eventually turned to the world of religion. When it comes to such discussions, I can still hear my father’s earthy wisdom. When he was attempting to settle this kind of argument between family members, he would say, “’It’s all a matter of taste,’ said the old man, as he kissed a cow”. It was his way of pointing out that it is usually not which thing is really better or right, but simply a matter of personal preference, a matter of taste.
So many things in life are a matter of taste, or personal choice. This devotional will focus mainly on matters of religion. Which type of service is the best? Is a traditional service more pleasing to the Lord than a contemporary service or is a blended type of service? What about music? Are the great hymns of the church more spiritual than ‘praise and worship’ choruses? Which translation of scripture is the best? Then there are the differences in methods of baptism, structure of communion, and degrees of liturgy that so often generate dissention and division.
The truth of the matter is that these and a host of other religious practices are not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of opinion or preference. To be sure, there are certain non-negotionable principles of the Christian faith. The Apostles’ Creed is one of the most succinct statements of these basic Christian beliefs:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic (Universal) Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Amen.
Once we settle on the basic principles of the faith, everything else is pretty much detail. One of my favorite scriptures provides helpful advice to prevent majoring on minor issues. It is found in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. Paul provides this advice: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things,” (Philippians 4:8,9).
~ Brother Roy