For students in my Wednesday night class on Paul’s letter to the Colossians: Handouts and Notes for Colossians 3:1-11 are now available online. Lord willing we will cover this text tomorrow night at 7pm at Bellevue Church of Christ!
I know I’m in the minority these days, but I still love to listen to music on vinyl records. The long play (“LP”) record, which was introduced by Columbia in 1948, was pushed to the brink of extinction by the cassette tape, the compact disc (“CD”), and now digital media. Today it is enjoying somewhat of a comeback, but is still little more than a small niche in the overall music industry.
There are two main reasons why I prefer the LP format. First, I love the warm, rich sound that is the hallmark of most vinyl pressings. Music just sounds more authentic on a record. Second, the LP puts the emphasis on listening to the album all the way through from beginning to end. When I listen to a record, I know I’m hearing the album the way the artist originally intended for it to be enjoyed.
This emphasis on the album as a whole has been slowly eroding with each passing generation of music recording technology. The cassette tape allowed for fast-forwarding or rewinding to a particular song on the album. The CD made it possible to “skip” straight to individual songs we wanted to hear. With digital media we can forgo the album altogether and merely purchase the tracks we want, assembling them together in any way our heart desires. The focus on the album is almost non-existent in today’s music culture.
Unfortunately, the same thing can be said regarding the trend of how the “Ancient Record” (i.e. the Word of God) is studied and taught. It used to be common for preachers and teachers to employ “expository” methods in presenting scripture. The aim of expository preaching is to dig deep into the Word of God and attempt to present a section of text in the way the author, and ultimately God’s Holy Spirit, intended for it to be received. This often involves the consideration of context, culture, original language, and other factors. In other words, expository teaching requires a willingness to work hard and dig deep to find the truth contained in God’s Word.
A few years ago I developed a medical condition with symptoms that began to significantly impact my life. During the process of undergoing test after test to discover the source of these problems, I had a discussion with a health provider who was advising me on how to cope with my symptoms, have more energy, and regain my strength. She asked about all of the things I was involved in related to work, family, church, and social life, and immediately said that I first needed to simplify my life and focus on those things that are most important.
Today I find myself in a different type of struggle, however this one is not related to my physical health. Instead, it involves my spiritual life. Once again, there are symptoms that are severely affecting me. I often find myself out of energy, frustrated, and overwhelmed. As with my health issue, I know the only way I’m going to break free of these symptoms is by simplifying my spiritual life and focusing on those things that are most fundamental to my Christian faith.
This challenge is mostly because the American execution of “Church” has become overly complicated. Anyone involved in the work of a local body knows that today’s church is often filled with politics, competing agendas, feuds, entertainment, marketing, denominationalism, and so many other things that take our focus off of what God intended His believers to be about.
These are the things that have me at a spiritual crossroads in my life, and yearning for simplicity in my church experience and my Christian walk. I want to stop worrying about things that ultimately don’t matter, and focus on the core fundamentals of Christianity.