Last week in our Sunday class we looked at the old illustration of three boys who walked across a field of snow. The group, tired of snowball fights and making snowmen, decided to have a contest over who could walk the straightest line to the other side of the field. The first boy came up with the plan to walk backwards. By focusing on the fencepost he was leaving, he reasoned, he could guide his future direction. So backwards he walked, using his past as his guide. He finally made it across the field but his line of tracks was not straight across the field. By looking back he could not tell where he was going. The second boy had a different idea of staring at his feet at each step. With this method he would ensure that each individual step matched the last and lead him in the right direction. At the end of his journey he looked back and saw that his tracks were not in a straight line. Instead they cut left and right all over the field for no discernable reason. The third boy hatched a different plan. He decided to focus on a tree on the far side of the field and use that as his guide. The journey seemed strange because his focus would not allow him to look down where he was going nor did it let him look back where he had been. As he crossed the field and arrived at the tree he focused on the boys were amazed. His line was exactly straight and did not bend or waver in any direction.
This simple tale about focus lets us know much about our spiritual journey. There are many in the Lord’s Church today who are clamoring for change. Some are upset that their church does not look exactly like the church they knew from the past. They confuse habits and traditions for doctrine. Sadly, many congregations expend their energy over matters of songbooks, times they meet on Sundays and even whether or men must wear neckties on Sunday morning. While we should never allow our actions to become a stumbling block to our brethren, neither should we hold to our traditions more strongly than to Christ’s doctrine.
Others think the church needs to change direction constantly in the way it worships, the way it’s organized, and the way it reaches out. They cry that we will lose the millennial generation if we don’t radically change our doctrine and practice. One day they insist the preacher wears ripped jeans and a t-shirt while others say its better for him to wear vestal garments. They claim the younger generation longs for high (formal) church and then turn around and say “If we only had a Christian rock band and were casual.” They say that this two thousand year old Bible we study is irrelevant to today’s society. They teach that new ways of life such as fornication and homosexuality are actually approved by God and that we need to disregard the Scriptures that clearly teach that these practices are an abomination. Yet, they will soon realize that whatever changes they make to the church will not be enough to accomplish their goals and they will soon have to make adjustments again. They leave a twisted legacy of following everyone except God.
But there are those who focus not on society or their past. Instead they see the risen Christ and they study God’s Word in order to learn how to follow him. Their path may seem difficult and those around them may taunt them but their journey is true. The only way to please God is to listen to him in the way he speaks to us today—through the Bible, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. While God does act providentially in our lives, our doctrine and morality must be true to the Apostle’s teachings. It’s time for us to raise our eyes to the horizon and see the risen Son of God. Instead of being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, its time for us to do Bible things in Bible ways. As you cross the field of your life’s journey, don’t look to your past traditions, nor to the shifting sands of personal opinion—fix your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.