I remember like it was yesterday the first time I knew that the “times they were a changing”. To that point in my ministry there had been a general truth that if something was happening at the church the congregation for the most part would be there. Anything from shingling the roof to hymn sings and LLL dinners were sure to be well attended because that is what was done. Suddenly one day late in the 1980’s I announced a prayer service after some catastrophe that had befallen us and one of our faithful said, “if there is nothing else going on I will be there”. My understanding had been up until then that there was nothing else going on when there was something going on at the church because that is where we meet the Lord our God. Wow was I wrong.
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14.6). “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (John 10:1, 9.)
Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death.
We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.
This statement from the Barmen Theological Declaration of 1934 was about the notion that a government could and would try and establish a national church in its image and by definition that would be idolatry. Oswald Bayer makes a connection that is inescapable but it is fashioned by his words into a frightening and devastating connection to the first commandment. “I am the Lord your God”. Bayer says is the language of love and love can be scorned and found boring. God is saying in that small statement that He is ours and we are His. Yet we who are His find other “events and powers, figures and truths” to be “more interesting, more important, more real, and more necessary than He is”.
We have way too much going on if worship and praise are on a menu list that we pick and choose.