Disclaimer: This is not a theology blog. I’m not so much a deep thinker but more of a chatterbox while I do my thinking. Feel free to share your opinions or thoughts. In fact, I hope you will.
The verse Micah 6:8 has popped into my life on numerous occasions in the past few months. “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
The whole phrase, “What does the Lord require of you?” really stands out to me in this verse, even though it’s followed by three obvious things.
(Which will make up parts 2, 3, and 4.)
I was raised Baptist. This is not good, it’s not bad, it just is. I believe that my background, in some ways, laid a very good foundation for what God had planned for me.
But even at a young age, I felt that being Baptist meant following a lot of rules.
I should wear a dress or skirt to church, I should be at every service, I should never sing anything that’s not a hymn, I should never go to the movies.
Honestly, I felt like so much of it was based on appearance.
I attended a Baptist college. I found it to be a strange paradox. For one thing, I got an excellent education in terms of Bible knowledge, and the professors there really are good…and they’re nice, too…so this is nothing against them. But on the other hand, it was more of what I had grown up with…so much legalism.
So many rules. I struggled to follow them with the right heart and broke more than I will admit on this blog. And honestly, I still have some bitterness over all of those rules…but I realize that I need to make the choice to move on because that’s a reflection of my heart, not anyone else’s.
Tobin and I got married in 2002 and attended two different very conservative Baptist churches before a series of events brought us to Ambassador. Amazing church…there, we truly felt that we were accepted for who we were, not what we looked like, sang, or did with our free time. And while we’re being honest here, if we were still in the Twin Cities, we would still be at that church. We just loved it and it broke our hearts to leave.
But in moving to Illinois, we knew we would need to find a new church.
And that search has brought the question, “What does God require of us?” into our conversations on more than one occasion.
So here are my (our) observations, in no particular order.
- God does not require us to be Baptist. He does require us to follow Him and have a real relationship with Him.
- God does not require that we use the KJV. He does require that we follow His Word with all of our hearts.
- God does not require us to follow other people’s rules or expectations. He does ask that we obey Him in each and every area of life. Some of those areas can be subjective based on convictions.
- God does not require us to go to every possible church service that our church has to offer. He does require us to worship Him.
- God does not require us to sing only hymns. He does require that the music we sing and play bring Him glory.
- God does not require women to wear skirts. (This one is hard.) But I do believe He asks that we honor Him in what we choose to wear. All that to say, I don’t believe it’s my job to judge someone based on their clothing…skirts OR jeans.
- God does not forbid going to a movie. I believe He asks us to honor Him when choosing a movie to watch. And I hope that if someone saw me at the theater, they would know me well enough to not even need to question what I might be going to see.
And really, this list could go on and on. I feel like far too many people see it as their job to lay out what God expects for us. As a Christian and follower of Him, I believe that God has done a good job of that Himself…and my job is to do what He’s asked.
I have felt so pressured in the past by the need to live up to the expectations of others. And when I make a choice that doesn’t fit into their (small) box, I am judged. That’s not good for anyone.
Tobin and I have found a church that is a good fit for us for now. It’s not Baptist. It IS based on the Bible. It is a place where we can serve and grow, be impacted and also make an impact. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes from it. For now, we are both enjoying the church and the freedom to be ourselves that we find there.
What DOES God require of me? I don’t always know, but I’m praying that He’ll continue to guide me (and Tobin). But what I do know is that I love Him and want to live for Him.