November 12, 2014 Leave a comment
In the fellowship I am a part of, we hear much discussion about the importance of patterns in our service to God. At times certain patterns are important. A case in point would be our acceptance of God’s promises in regard to salvation. The Lord has said salvation could not come through any name other than Jesus. If we want the promises God has made in regard to salvation, the pattern of acceptance of those promises would always be a pattern that came through Jesus. In this sense a pattern would be reasonable and necessary.
How far should we take the idea of a pattern when it comes to serving God? Obviously as we serve God we should be able to find a pattern to that service if we search for such a pattern……right? I wish to pose a few questions to consider in regard to patterns. First, is there only one pattern acceptable and pleasing in our service to God? Did Jesus death simply establish a better pattern? Is God concerned about getting the motions right or does He value the condition of the heart? Second, if an established and unique pattern of service is necessary to please God would it be reasonable to conclude that God would make that pattern plainly visible to all who are searching? After all is my salvation really based in my ability to find the pattern? If the pattern is so important, is it unreasonable to conclude that if God allowed an event so important as the death of Jesus to take place, He would also make the pattern so visible we couldn’t possibly miss it? Third, if I miss that pattern should I still be counted as faithful to the Lord? Is faithfulness tied to a pattern of works I perform to earn my salvation? Is God really so concerned about the order of my works or is He concerned about the depth of my faith which motivates me to serve and praise Him. Finally, is my understanding of and obedience to the correct pattern the primary factor in the judgement of my salvation? Does my adherence to the rules declare me righteous? Is this the element of my life that God views as the reason for Him to declare me righteous? The Pharisees treasured strict rituals (or patterns) in their service to God because they could evaluate one’s adherence to these rules. Is God concerned about our ability to evaluate another’s obedience to the rules or a pattern? Or is God concerned with the condition of my heart, which often can’t be evaluated by mortal man.
Please consider this. There is no problem with seeing 1 or 1000 patterns in Scripture. The problem occurs when we use a chosen pattern to determine the faithfulness of others. This has been one of the unwritten laws in our fellowship for many years. Most of us understand the damage it has done. Never was this the intent of our Lord. As men we tend to gravitate toward rules and patterns because our adherence to these can be measured. We wouldn’t often admit it but we like lists because we can mark things as we get them done. When we have obeyed every facet of a pattern we can then say to the Lord the same words the Pharisee used when he said, “I thank God I’m not as other men”. It allows us to put our trust in our abilities which we can see rather than faith In the promises of God which are not seen
Did Jesus really die to establish a better pattern or a better set of rules? Of course not! Jesus died so we might live. He is our sin payment. My salvation is based on my faith in the promises of God. If I trust those promises I will do all I can to please and obey Him. Will there be a pattern I will likely follow in regard to my service to God? Most certainly there will be. What we must guard against is placing our trust in obedience to a pattern rather not than placing our faith in a proper relationship with God. Be careful that you build your relationship with God rather than on trust in rules and patterns. When all is said and done, we are righteous because God declares us righteous. We aren’t righteous based on our perfect adherence to rules or to a pattern we must search diligently to cobble together.