Alrighty Then – Part 2

Alrighty Then – Part 2

Following on from part 1, let’s look further at how our addiction to being right affects our life and how we live it.

How then, are we supposed to worship?

What becomes even more troubling than ordinary folks contesting positions on certain social justice and political issues, is when Christians enter into similar arguments concerning how different Christian groups and denominations express their faith in worship. I find it sad and disturbing when I read one Christian group criticising or even denouncing another Christian group for something in the way they operate. I’ve heard criticisms that come from a place of superiority, that other Christian groups are not as enlightened or advanced in the way they understand God or how they should worship. I’ve heard other criticisms going the other way, saying that some expressions of Christian worship are too worldly, and you can’t tell the difference between them and a rock concert.

The blogs and articles that are dedicated to pulling other Christian ministries and expressions down seem to me to be wasting time, shooting at a brother or sister in Christ, rather than investing energy into the call of the Gospel – to love one another, as Christ has loved you, and reaching out to the broken, poor and lost.

Does God do eye-rolls? Does he just tsk tsk and shake his head in frustration?  If I were God, and it is a good job that I’m not, I would possibly send word and say, ‘Would you cut that out, and just get on with it?’

If I kneel at an altar, light a candle and pray in the stillness of a cathedral; if I stand in a huge crowd, with loud music pumping from the speakers, my hands raised towards heaven and my eyes closed; or if I stand to the opening chord of a pipe organ and sing along to the familiar words of an old hymn, which is the right way to worship God? I’m not sure He gave specific instructions other than that we should worship Him in spirit and in truth. What does that look like? If I have my heart open to Him, whether I sing structured words or not, if my heart is full of thanksgiving and worship, lighting a candle is just as effective as an interpretive dance with ribbons, or a contemporary worship song performed by professional musicians. Who knows, perhaps even standing and gazing in awe at the beauty of creation— listening to a stream running and birds singing while watching the sun set—might even be acceptable to God as worship, if our hearts are inclined toward Him.

When did God ask me to judge the intentions of another Christian’s heart?

This is another place where we can find ourselves addicted to being right. Insisting on the right way to worship, and insisting that anyone who does it differently is really missing the mark.

Colossians 3:16-17 (NLT) “… Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

What should a Christian look like?

I was reminiscing with a friend a while back and we were laughing about the various restrictions we grew up under in our early church life.  Both of us had come from a church that had restrictions, and if we adhered faithfully, it would set us right and send us to heaven – or not.

My friend’s church taught their congregants that they must not drink alcohol or dance and they must wear a hat to church. The church my husband grew up in believed you could drink alcohol, but you should under no circumstances dance and the women absolutely had to wear a hat to church. The church I grew up in believed that you could dance, and hats were optional, according to fashion, but you should not drink alcohol.

Which one of us had the right upbringing?

The Amish people who live in specific communities in the USA appear to be sincere in their faith and love for God. Most other Christian expressions in the western world would dismiss them because of their chosen lifestyle, and the various restrictions they live by. But how much does God love them and the way they have chosen to express their faith?

Consider how we were dressed for church back in the 1960s. We had on our Sunday best dress, with patent leather shoes, and hats according to which denomination we were in. Men had a suit and tie, and used Brill Cream to comb their short-back-and-sides haircut into a respectable Christian style. We were clean, tidy and modest, and as children we were careful not to fall foul of our mother once she had us ready—no running outside to play and get dirty. The Christian family who turned up to church were respectable. The funny thing is, I know some older Christian folk who still believe that if you are not dressed like this, it is an indication of your slide away from your faith in Christ. You can’t dress in contemporary fashion—torn jeans, and shabby t-shirts—and be living for God, perhaps you’re not really even a Christian. I can cite an on-going argument I’ve had with an older Christian who is dismayed and distressed at the bushy hipster- beard sported by her grandson. When it is pointed out to her that Jesus and probably all the disciples and prophets wore bushy beards, she is quite determined that they did not—or at least that point is not admissible in this argument. I haven’t the heart to introduce her to the various Christian motorcycle gangs that have emerged over the years. Tattoos, body piercings, black leather motor cycle jackets, scraggly beards in various shapes and sizes, and standing together in prayer and fellowship. What?! How can that be?

Are we missing the point of what it is to be a Christian – having made it instead about what we look like and how we perform our Christian worship?

How hard is it to give up being right?

John 13:35 does not say, they will know we are His disciples by what we approve of and what we disapprove of.

It does however, say:  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)

God didn’t call us to be right. He called us to be kind.[1]

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)

” Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace… ”

Do you recall the parable in Luke 18:9-14 where Jesus decided to teach a lesson to some who were confident in their own righteousness and who had a nasty habit of looking down on everyone else? He told them the story about the two men who had gone to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and obviously felt good about himself, thanking God that he wasn’t like the evildoers or the tax collector. He even took the opportunity to remind God how often he fasted and how much he gave. The tax collector, on the other hand, hung back, and in contrast struggled to even look up. He cried out for mercy, recognising himself as a sinner. Jesus wasn’t trying to be subtle in this story. He said it plainly to the listeners. The repentant tax-collector went home justified, the Pharisee was in danger of being humbled because of his self-righteousness.

Jesus was pretty hot on this topic, and told another parable that we would all be familiar with—The Good Samaritan. He’d been asked what a person must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus had answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart … and Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Luke 10:25(NIV)

Then they made the mistake of asking ‘who is my neighbour?’

Well, now that you ask? You would remember it was a hated Samaritan who stopped and aided the sick and beaten man on the roadside. It wasn’t the religious countrymen who took the time. This message is consistent throughout the Scriptures.  In Matthew 25 Jesus goes as far as to say to those who ignored the hungry, naked, imprisoned strangers that he never knew them, no matter how much religious activity they had performed on his behalf. The Father’s heart for the least of these is represented right throughout Scripture. I encourage you to read Isaiah 58:2-10. It’s a long Scripture, but it has some key phrases in the context that support this message:

‘“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them…’ (NIV)

The message that was coming through as I studied more was a little alarming to me. My righteousness is as filthy rags, and the things He recognises in us is tending to the least of these. The problem for me was, I don’t see the least of these in my regular everyday life. I started to look out for someone—anyone—but I live in upper-middle class suburbia, and they aren’t sitting on the side of the road. I was challenged even more when I heard another sermon that studied the Ten Commandments, saying that stealing was not just when I take something from someone else that doesn’t belong to me, but also when I have the means to meet a need, and I don’t. This is also stealing. [2] What an eye opener. Do I have the means to give? When I am aware of a drive for funds from groups like World Vision, The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse and others, do I just put the flyer in the bin, or do I at least make a donation?

I have kept my eyes open in recent times, and the other day I saw a man begging outside KFC. In the past I would have walked right by, but on this occasion, I walked over to him. He was asking for two dollars to help buy a pie that was too expensive for him. I didn’t have two dollars, but I had a credit card, so I offered to buy him dinner from KFC. By this time, my brother, who was with me, stepped over and had already handed him a chicken wrap. It was my very first effort at actually seeing somebody in need, and not walking past. It’s not much, I know, but it is something I mean to be more aware of.

So, in wrapping up this chapter, the crux of the message is: God has called us to love Him first and then our neighbour, and folks will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. Like me, we need to watch out for anything that has us attacking one another in a fruitless effort to take the moral high-ground, leaving folks brow-beaten and bleeding, and having less idea about the Gospel of Christ and more idea about our personal doctrine. We are all on this journey.

[1] This quote taken from Shane Willard during an audio recording of his teaching session.

[2] Shane Willard – audio recording series on ‘The Ten Commandments’.


  1. Tiffany Baldwin
    Nov 30, 2021

    Thank you Meredith. I love how our faith in Christ can bring us together even though our worship and church expressions are so diverse.

  2. Anne
    Dec 1, 2021

    I so love what you have written about worship! Thank you again for an insightful and challenging blog on differing worship styles, judging others and Jesus’s comments on true righteousness.
    Thank you also for this eye opener: “… saying that stealing was not just when I take something from someone else that doesn’t belong to me, but also when I have the means to meet a need, and I don’t. This is also stealing … ” .

  3. Carolyn
    Dec 1, 2021

    Thanks Meredith , it poses the question again where am I been judgemental with other brothers and sisters who express their faith different to me and where am I least Christ like?