Liquid Footprints

Leave a comment

Too Much Christ in Christmas

Open Christmas Day

Open Christmas Day

A lot of people lament how Christ isn’t much of a part of Christmas anymore.  The fears and martyr complex are unwarranted. Christmas is a material holiday that isn’t going to change; it is too vital a part of the economy to not  be material.  It is the holiday that generates the most profit. Christmas is more about Santa Claus than Christ.

Because of the materialist focus, I doubt Jesus would want to be associated with Christmas. Sure, Americans give a lot to the Salvation Army and other charities. However, how much is given in relation to the value of the items in their shopping carts? Okay, we are giving to our family members and not buying for ourselves at least.

Blessed are the hungry, the poor, and the weak. Christmas today celebrates nothing of what Jesus stood for. Certainly there is the facade, but at the core it is all about the economy. It is a time to spend with family, certainly, for those lucky enough not to have to work department stores that remain open.

Should Christmas return its focus on Jesus’ birth? It isn’t going to happen, and no, it shouldn’t. The message of His life is more important than His birth; the Christmas story is not a product of historical fact anyway.

It sounds like I am against Christmas. I am soured to it, but not against it. I dislike the materialism and the role it plays in the economy.  However, I realize it isn’t going to change…unless there is a grass roots shift in our thinking.

  1. We need to stop buying gifts and instead give to to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and local charities.
  2. We need to stop working and spend time with family: with or without a huge meal.
  3. We need to not think of Jesus on this season, but think on His message every moment. More importantly we need to practice.

It isn’t wrong to want to buy gifts for family members. What is wrong is the feeling of obligation this season creates. We shouldn’t have a reason to give gifts.

Until we start doing these things collectively as Christians, there is too much Christ in Christmas.  He shouldn’t be associated with materialism.




Sing and Make Melody in the Heart

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Ephesians 5:19

I grew up in a church that believe singing and only singing is the proper way to worship God. No instruments. The problem I had with it was this: I HATE singing. Yes. I passionately loathe singing . I am partially tone deaf, and while I like and enjoy music I do not enjoy sounding terrible to even my damaged ears. I don’t even like to talk that much. I think silence is the better way to worship.

Because I dislike singing so much, Sunday services was a source for dread. I couldn’t sing or make melody in my heart to the Lord in that manner. I felt far more attuned to God alone in silent contemplation or walking quietly in the woods. Notice how I emphasize silence. My heart sings when I am in a silent environment away from people. I grew up thinking this was wrong. After all, Christians are commanded to sing. The key is singing and making melody in the heart. Songs, psalms, and the like do not make my heart feel melodious toward God. Silence, however, does.

Christianity has become an extrovert’s religion. It is often loud and touchy-feely with hands held together in prayer. For those like me who crave silence and solitude, worship is often a trip through a hell of anxiety. I don’t think God had that in mind with worship.

I spent many years trying to make myself enjoy traditional worship and all the extrovert trappings. I like being around people…sometimes. I also had to motivation that any other form of worship was wrong. Yet, despite my efforts and prayer my heart could never sing with my mouth. My heart couldn’t pray when publicly praying.  I found that when I am with silence my heart sings to God. When I am alone, my prayers are sincere. Besides, Jesus said we should pray in secret instead of publicly (Matt 6:6). He viewed prayer as something intensely private.

I cannot deny my nature; I cannot be anyone I am not. I cannot feel comfortable or joyous singing with the congregation, but I am when sitting in silent contemplation of God.

Modern Christianity needs to rethink its extrovert bias. Singing in the heart can be done (and I think is BEST done) quietly in different ways. Singing can be painting on a canvas, writing, or meditating. Not everyone wants big social hullabaloos.  The extrovert bias only alienates Christians like me. Congregations miss out on the music we sing.


The Ego and the Salvation

Ego is a distorted mirrorChristianity is all about saving the soul of sin. However, most of us have a misconception of what this actually means. When we think of the soul, we think about the self: who we are. The “person” that thinks and feels. That isn’t the “person” Christian salvation seeks to save.

We think the Ego is the self. The ego is the set of thoughts and actions we consider who we are. The ego isn’t consistent. Take a day to watch your “self.” You feel angry, sad, happy. Your thoughts flit to and fro. The self desires many things. The ego is an illusion we hold up and call the self. It seeks to protect itself even to the point of death. It is the part of ourselves that doesn’t want to be wrong. It is the part that desires.  Even desiring salvation is a function of the ego.

There isn’t a self for God to save, but there is a Self. This Self is like a window that lets in sunshine. A window dirty with the ego can’t shine in God’s light. Only by cleaning ourselves of the ego – even of the desire for salvation- can we touch our Self. This pure state of consciousness and emptiness is what God seeks to save.  Death is when the ego passes away – either through realizing enlightenment or salvation or through physical death. What remains is the soul. That soul is a natural mirror that reflects the true nature of humanity; it reflects a nature that comes from being made in the image of God.

The ego is crafty. The personification of Satan found in Scripture describes the ego more than a fallen angel. The ego does nothing but desire. It desires salvation. It desires to live forever. It desires wealth, food, reputation, and even going to heaven.  The Self appears when we stop desiring. Of course, the ego can even desire the cessation of desire.The key to finding the Self is to live and accept reality as it is. Avoiding filters and judgment helps quite the ego. Ego does nothing but filter and judge and desire.

We don’t have to physically die to receive the fruits of salvation. Heaven is found when the ego dies and reveals the Self.  Heaven is when we allow God’s love and compassion to shine through the window of our true nature.

1 Comment

Considering the Lord’s Supper

Lord's SupperI grew up believing the Lord’s Supper should be observed every first day of the week. While this is a good practice of mindfulness I am not convinced of how scriptural the practice is. Most of the logic I am familiar with is rather shaky and seems to add to the text. The looming Passover holiday on the calendar as I write this brings my doubts to the front on my mind.

First, we all agree that Jesus instituted His Supper during the Passover celebration, which happened on the Sabbath day – Friday evening on the Jewish way of dividing the days. I don’t dispute that…in fact it is the linchpin behind my doubts. Anyway, let us examines the proofs used to support first day of the week Lord’s Supper. I will add my thoughts after, addressing each section and point. (1a for example). My thoughts will also be in blue.

All quotations are taken from the New King James translation.

1) Acts 20:7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

a) The phrase “break bread” is thought to be the Lord’s Supper. The disciples came together specifically to do this. It is argued that Paul happened to be there so he preached during a normal worship service held on the first day of the week.  This means that it was a regular practice to take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week.

1a) The phrase “break bread” often simply means “eat a meal.” It is argued that sometimes the phrase means this and other times it refers to the Supper based on context. However, given Acts 2:41-43 and  Acts 2:46-47, the first Christians practiced steadfastly and daily met in the temple and house to house “breaking bread” and eating their food with “gladness and simplicity of heart.” Was this the Supper? Many would say no since they were eating food. However, this earliest practice doesn’t designate any significance to the first day of the week. Every day of the week was a day of meeting at the temple and breaking bread house to house.

Take this cup, my blood. Break the bread, representing my body.Deciding that the ambiguous phrase “break bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper seems to be adding meaning to a verse that falls in line with common daily practice. Luke uses the phrase “first day of the week,” to denote the timing of their journey. He used the Passover to also denote timing of their journey, which was important. Paul was trying to get to Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. Luke only sketches until there are main events. Paul reviving Eutychus after falling from a window is an event worth recording. Likewise Paul leaves at daybreak after he had “broken bread and eaten.” They were apparently having a normal evening meal as was the custom.

Jesus instituted His Supper on the Passover and tied it directly to the elements of the Passover: the lamb’s blood and the act of remembrance: Exodus 13:3. The only times the Lord’s Supper is explicitly mentioned is in relation with the Passover: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, Mark 14, Luke 22. Attaching the phrase “break bread” with special significance when the Supper is explicitly attached to Passover whenever it appears is adding meaning to Scripture. Could the early Christians be observing the Supper daily when they met house to house to break bread? Certainly. It has as much contextual proof as this phrase from Acts.  However, the only direct correlation of the Supper in Scripture is with Passover. Everything else is an effort to bend scripture to “prove” Christian tradition. Of course, weekly or daily mindfulness of Jesus is an excellent thing.

b) Paul also waited to call the meeting until the first day of the week despite being in a hurry to leave (v8-16). Therefore, the Lord’s Supper cannot be held on any other day.

1b) The passage doesn’t show Paul was in any hurry until he left Troas. In fact, Paul wasn’t in a hurry until they arrived at Miletus since in verse 13 Paul decided to walk to the next destination and arrived after Luke did (vs 14).  The Troas passage shows Paul wanted to spend a full week with the Christians of that area like he did at Philippi (vs 6). This first day of the week was mentioned because of the special events and the fact Paul was reluctantly departing that day, which was a regular work day since ships were sailing.

c) Also, the phrase “first day of the week” is the only day of the week singled out for worship.

1c) There are 8 instances of this phrase in the New Testament. I wrote this article that examines them. Note that the first day of the week began on our Saturday night at sun down. Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, but that is the only significant event. Important events also happen on other days of the week according to Acts and other books. Also note that the Sabbath is referred to in the New Testament 60 times. The argument that the first day of the week is a significant phrase doesn’t hold in light of how many times the Sabbath is mentioned. Also the early Christians were primarily Jews who still practiced the Sabbath as scriptures makes reference throughout.

Early Christian mosaic2) 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. …So then, my brothers,when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34  if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

a) Paul tells the Corinth Church that as often as they come together they are to observe the Lord’s Supper properly.  The Supper should be eaten when they assemble, but this isn’t a common meal – he even tells the hungry to eat at home. Since Acts states Christians met on the first day of the week, the Supper is observed at every first day of the week.

2a) Paul doesn’t say exactly when the Corinthian church met. He does attach the Lord’s Supper with the Passover, however. Because this passage is ambiguous with the phrase “as often as you come together” we don’t know if the church met on the first day of the week as often surmised or if they met daily like in Acts 2:46-47. It is also possible that they met far less frequently when they were persecuted.

3) 1 Corinthians 16: 1,2 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

a) Paul tells the church of Corinth to set aside a gift to the church upon the first day of every week.

3a) There are several elements to note in this passage. First, the collection was for the saints, not the church. Paul uses the same phrase in Romans 15: 25-28 where he takes fruit he collected from other churches to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. He is asking the Corinthians for a collection to help the poor and hungry, not the local church. Likewise Paul is telling individuals to set aside some of what they prospered/harvested on the first day of the week for this purpose. The grammar of both the New King James and the King James translations point to this if you look at how the verbs relate to their subjects.

He isn’t telling them to donate to the church on the first day. Rather he is telling each church member to store up a little from the first day of work each week.  Each member is also responsible for storing the item. The grammar is reflexive and returns back to the subject “each.”  Paul doesn’t want any collecting to happen when he arrives. Collecting in this case refers to harvesting when you consider an identical situation in Romans. Paul doesn’t want everyone to wait until the last moment before harvesting for the collection to help the poor. If Paul was just after money, waiting until he arrived to collect the money wouldn’t have been a big deal. However, harvesting foodstuffs would take a lot more time and effort.


The Lord's Supper was once humble. It is now ritual.Sounds like I am against worshiping on the first day of the week eh? I’m not.

I am stating that the evidence used in the New Testament to support first day of the week worship isn’t as solid as it seems. The Lord’s Supper being equated with the phrase “breaking bread” is problematic since the phrase is used for eating meals and isn’t specially reserved. The early Christians broke bread on the first day of the week and also daily. They also broke bread on the Passover. Relying on such a phrase to vindicate tradition isn’t building an argument on solid ground.

Likewise the events with Paul, as I explained, don’t single out particular instances of worship. In fact, 1 Corinthians 16: 1,2 seems to contradict this idea. It is on a a first day of the week’s work that Paul ask something be set aside for the poor. Again, he wasn’t asking the members to set aside anything for their own church.

Finally, even Jesus doesn’t place a specific time for His Supper. While He equates it with the Passover, He also tells the apostles simply to do the Supper in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19). Paul says the Supper should be done as often as a church meets. So that leaves room for the first day of the week, daily, or even just on Passover.

However, there are proof of first day Suppers outside the New Testament. These proofs don’t appear until 90 CE with the Didache, 100CE with the Epistle of Barnabas and 150 CE with Justin Martyr among other extra-scriptural references. The New Testament gives Christians freedom as to when to observe the Supper. It was attached to the first day of the week traditionally because it was the day Jesus was resurrected.

So I’m back at the beginning. The verses of the NT are inconclusive. The reader can infer the verses I mentioned in this article are proofs of worship practice or are closer to what I consider a proper understanding of the context. Practicing the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week is an excellent practice in mindfulness. It starts off the week with a proper mind. Of course, an even better practice of Jesus centered mindfulness would be to follow Acts 2 and observe the Lord’s Supper daily if we want to equate “breaking bread” with it.

In either case, Jesus tells us to remember Him with the Supper. At the least He equated it with the Passover meal He instituted it on. Paul tells the Corinthians to observe it as often as they meet. Finally, tradition says we should do it on the first day of the week.  What matters more than the frequency is remembering Jesus properly with mindfulness.

Leave a comment

Didache: Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

The Didache is a first century Christian writing.The Didache is an interesting document from the 1st Century. The document was discovered in 1883 in a monastery in Constantinople. The short text of just 16 Chapters provides a general guide for early Christians. It is possible that some early congregations only had the Didache. The document seems to be closely related to the Gospel of Matthew.

The Didache opens with a general guide to what it means to be Christian. I’ll paraphrase:

  1. Love God and your neighbor as yourself. Don’t do to them as you don’t want done to you.
  2. Bless those that curse you and pray for your enemies. “But do ye love them that hate you, and ye will not have an enemy.” 1:3
  3. Abstain from worldly lusts.
  4. Turn your cheek, go the extra mile, and give your coat to those who steal your cloak
  5. Give to everyone who asks. “Blessed is he who giveth according to the commandment, for he is free from guilt; but woe unto him that receiveth. For if a man receive being in need, he shall be free from guilt; but he who receiveth when not in need, shall pay a penalty...’

The Didache continues looking into Christian conduct through Chapter 7, where it has an interesting take on baptism. The Didache lists the Jewish commandments in chapter 2. While chapter 3 emphasizes the need to be compassionate, harmless, and peaceful. Chapter 4 is also interesting. It creates another set of “thou shalt not” commandments for early Christians:

Thou shalt not:

  1.  desire schism
  2. accept the accusations of a person without looking into it
  3. doubt whether something will happen or not (this is curious)
  4. be a hand stretcher but loathe to give
  5. doubt giving or complain about it
  6. turn away anyone in need
  7. turn away from sons or daughters
  8. make servants bitter toward you
  9. abandon the Lord’s commandments (likely referring to all the commands listed in the previous chapters)
  10. come to prayer with an evil conscience.

Chapter 7 goes into baptism with quite a pragmatic view, unlike some churches today. The Didache considers immersion in “living” or running water best. But if it’s not available you can baptize in another water, preferably cold. If you can’t do that, pour water 3 times over the head in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It also says you have to recite all the previous precepts. It also teaches that the person being baptized and the person doing the baptism should both fast 1 ore 2 days before the event.

The document continues with thanks giving prayers during the Lord’s Supper (or Eucharist as usually translated). It also says we should pray 3 times a day using the Lord’s Prayer as a model and privately as Matthew also mentions. Prayer shouldn’t be done in public settings exempting the Lord’s Supper.

The Didache continues with general guidelines to how to assemble for worship, recognize false teachers, and general suggestions on appointing teachers and keeping the faith.

I found the document very interesting. It provides a general summary of 1st Century Christian practices. Their practices were actually quite simple too. Worship involved confessing sins before the Lord’s Supper and brief prayers. That’s it. It doesn’t mention sermons, or singing. The Didache has a pragmatic view on baptism based on availability of water; which makes sense for arid areas. It provides a good overview of the principles presented in the Gospels in a concise format.  The text even has a Zen quality to many of its passages.

The Didache opens a window into early Christianity. Christianity is at its heart a simple spiritual system. The complication and extravagance of modern Christianity distorts the quiet, family oriented heart. Archeology suggests Christians met in small groups of friends and family for several centuries before adopting the pomp of Roman religions. They attended synagogues for Scripture instruction but worshiped in homes. Prayer is done in the closet and not the public square. Love and forgiveness are the centerpieces of Christianity.

It would do us well to stop going to churches and instead worship quietly with friends and family. It would do us well to drop all the loudness, entertainment, and public prayer for silence and simplicity.

Sadly, few want to strip away all the artificial things the centuries have tacked onto Christianity. I often feel alone since not even my family wants to give up “going to church” in favor of home based 1st Century Christian practice found in the NT and supported by documents like the Didache.

If you want to read the Didache, this site offers various translations.

1 Comment

The First Day of the Week

It does well to consider the origins of traditions like first day of the week worshipIt is Christian custom to meet and worship God on the first day of the week. Interestingly, I haven’t found this practice in the New Testament. There are only 8 verses that use the phrase “first day of the week.” We’ll take a look at these verses and also another phrase commonly thought to refer to the Lord’s Supper, “break bread.”

Note: verses are from the New King James Version of the Bible.

1) Matt 28:1 “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.”

It’s useful to remember that Jews consider days differently than we are used to. We think a day is from dawn to dusk (or midnight to midnight). The Jewish people during the Roman era considered dusk to dusk a day as Genesis describes in 1:5. So the Sabbath would begin on the evening of our Friday. The Marys are out on our Sunday morning doing their normal work.

2) Mark 16:1-3 “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ “

This is Mark’s account of the same event. Again, they are out working: buying spices and doing labor on a normal workday. All things they can’t do on the Sabbath.

3) Mark 16:9 “Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.”

Here, Mary Magdalene sees a risen Jesus after the Sabbath. We cannot be certain if this is the same day as in Mark 16:1-3 because of the odd wording, but in any case events are happening on a workday. There isn’t any command to keep the day special. It simply dates Jesus rose early on the first day of the week. It could very well be a weekafter the resurrection in the verse since Mark didn’t writhe something like, “on the same day.” The main point is, this is just an event, not a command or anything.

4) Luke 24:1 “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.”

Luke’s account of the Resurrection event. Nothing here about Sunday worship.

5) John 20:1: John’s version of events we already discussed.

6) John 20:19 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.””

Now we are getting somewhere. The disciples are assembled and Jesus shows Himself to them on the first day of the week. Perhaps the disciples were worshiping?

Doesn’t look like it. The doors were shut and locked because they disciples were afraid of their fellow Jews. Why where they afraid? Jesus was killed only a few days (or at most a week) ago. There could very well have been a man hunt for other troublemakers going on in the city. In any case, they couldn’t have been worshiping in the Christian sense since they thought Jesus was dead up until He showed Himself to them. They also tend to all live together according to Acts 1:13.

7) Acts 20: 7 ” Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.”

Generations of church goers have enjoyed the social mornings on the pews.Here we go! Sounds like a Christian service here…at first glance. First, meeting on the first day of the week wasn’t special. In fact, the disciples and earliest Christians met everyday to break bread Acts 2:41-43 and  Acts 2:46-47. Next, the phrase “break bread” simply means eating together. Many people, such as the authors of the Apologetic Press, believe this phrase refers to the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. If this is true, than Christians are still not practicing properly by observing the Lord’s Supper only on Sundays since in Acts 2:46-47 the earlier Christians “broke bread” daily in the temples. Other verses support the simple interpretation that this was a meal: Luke 24:30 and Acts 27:35.

If we read this passage in context, there were lamps in the room (verse 8) and consider the Jewish day system, this event happened on our Saturday night. In verse 13-19, it is clear that Paul and associates didn’t consider the first day of the week as special. They went about and traveled as they would do on a workday.

This verse also doesn’t say anything about this event being customary, unlike Acts 2:46-47. This verse just accounts a singular event and not a worship practice.

8) 1 Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.”

Here is another verse that is used to support the tradition of giving to the church on the first day of the week. Paul is asking the church in Corinth to “lay in store” every first day so there doesn’t have to be collections when Paul comes.  It doesn’t say anything about giving on that day. Notice too that there isn’t anything about a tithe. It is based on how the person prospers on the first day of the week. The verse is asking the Corinthians to lay aside some what they earn on the first day of the week ( a workday) so when he arrives they don’t have to worry about working when he arrives.

The first verse tells us what type of collection is being made: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:” The collection wasn’t for Paul or a church. Paul was asking the churches to collect for the needs of their fellow Christians, the saints. This wasn’t unusual for Paul. In Romans 15: 25-28, he takes fruit he collected from other churches to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. So the verse in Corinthians has nothing to do with giving to the local church and everything to do with laying aside money to help other people.

Some argue that this means a church collection since Paul doesn’t want collections when he arrives. They state that people would have to go to each home and collect money if people lay aside in their homes as the verse suggests ( lay aside and lay in store are reflexive and often literally translated as “lay by him” as in nearby). They also argue that this would be dangerous since there are thieves and temptation to spend. We have to consider that what is being laid in store isn’t always money as Romans reveals. Paul was likely more interested in food than money to give to the needy. There weren’t banks as we know them, so people tend to hide their money in their homes already. Finally, word of Paul’s arrival had to be spread through word of mouth anyway so people can gather. Paul is just asking people to be prepared ahead of time.

Breaking Bread

As I mentioned before the phrase “breaking bread” refers to eating a meal as opposed to the Lord’s Supper. It is thought that early Christians observed the Lord’s Supper only on the Passover since Jesus instituted the tradition on that day (1 Corinthians 11:24-25, Mark 14, Luke 22). The Passover association has further connections with the idea that Jesus was the lamb of God; a lamb that is killed to protect people from death as accounted in Exodus 12.

The Lord’s Supper is only mentioned in association with the Passover. The phrase “breaking bread” is used in reference to the first day of the week and even daily as I pointed to in Acts 2. If we consider the phrase referring to the Lord’s Supper than Christians need to observe it daily as Acts illustrates. However, if we consider the phrase as simply a meal, the Lord’s Supper falls back to the Passover. Consider the early Christians were primarily Jewish, this is the more correct interpretation in light of Scripture.

So is it wrong to have the Lord’s Supper on every first day of the week or just doing the Passover? What matters is remembering Jesus’s life and sacrifice. As Paul illustrates in 1 Corinthians 11, the important factor is observing the tradition with the right mind: one of gratefulness and mindfulness.

So What does this mean for Sunday Worship?

Sunday, the first day of the week, was just another workday. Early Christians observed the Sabbath and met daily. It seems the Lord’s Supper was either observed daily or only on Passover. There isn’t any monetary collection for the church in Scripture. Paul’s command for collection applied to donations for the poor as I illustrated. Practically speaking, there wasn’t a need for a church wide collection. Early Christians met in small groups in their homes unless someone like Paul was passing through (1 Cor. 16:19,  Matt 18: 20, Acts 2:46, and various archeological and documentary evidence: Clement of Alexandria, etc). There wasn’t a public building that needed support. Collections were used, as we’ve seen, to help the needy. The only thing special about the first day of the week, is how that day’s work is to provide what you lay aside to help others.

Bending Scripture to support a tradition is problematic. Although I am sure many readers will accuse me of doing the same.  As we’ve seen, the New Testament is silent on first day of the week worship. No where does it explicitly say in the verses above that they were worshiping. We can infer they were, but we can also infer differently as well. At most, they were gathering for what we’d call a Bible Study (see also Acts 1: 12-26). The first day tradition isn’t bad practice. What is important is mindfulness and awareness of how Scripture isn’t clear cut in meaning.

1 Comment

The Extrovert Bias

Extrovert Bias drives away many people.American Christianity has a single major bias: against introversion. From large (and loud) congregations to even our idea of heaven; American Christianity (like American society) seems tailored to turn off introverts and highly sensitive people.

It’s not that introverts dislike being social. I greatly enjoy being social, but it has to be on my terms with only a few people. Too many people at once (more than 5 for me) drains my energy. Social events are marathons. That is why I much prefer to worship with only 1 or 2 other people ( Matt 18:20).

Highly Sensitive people are people whose nervous systems are more sensitive than 80% of the population. This allows them to be easily overwhelmed by bright lights, loud noise, and crowds….the typical Sunday morning service. I suspect I am among this group – I get massive headaches that last for hours if I am in too bright of lights and noise for too long. Unfortunately, I work retail. So that means the first of every month is a rough time for me.

Introversion isn’t a behavior. It is hard wired in the brain and the way the nervous system works.  We can fight against it for a time. Go do some circuit training for 8 hours. You will come to understand how exhausting it is.

Most people worship with singing, sermons, acts of spirit, prayer, and the ever present after service social hour. Frankly, my description of hell – especially after working with the public all week.  I am called a hermit because of how I pointedly avoid modern church services. I cannot connect to God in such an environment. I am too busy focusing on not running out the door. I tried for 12 years to enjoy such worship since I was taught it was the only way to truly worship, but I couldn’t. My heart sings and makes melody when I am alone meditating. It cries out for silence when I sit in a pew.

Being true to my nature instead of fighting it has caused me to be labeled as “fallen away.” The extrovert bias prevented me from focusing my mind upon Jesus and God as they ask, yet now that I finally can – alone – I am not thought of as being a proper Christian. It is quite ironic and frustrating.

I firmly think American society and worship is far too loud. It does little good since people don’t sit and contemplate their lives, God, and take time for family amid the ruckus.  All the noise and entertainment allows people to avoid looking at their minds. I’ve talked to many people who can’t stand any type of silence; it makes them uncomfortable and think too much. I am coming to think the best worship service is one where people take the Lord’s Supper and then sit in silence for the rest of the hour. No sermons and no singing. Rather, let the heart sing and make melody instead of the mouth. It would do well to open each week with a reflection on the previous week’s actions, and lessons we can learn from our mistakes.

American Christianity would do well to sit down in small groups and try silence.  At the least, we need to respect the need of introverts for silence and small groups. We have many skills we can bring to a congregation  ( listening, mindfulness, contemplation, et al). However, with the ways church as currently structured, introverts are left out. They can either drain themselves and attempt to remain or become “hermits” as I was forced to do.

Of course, I am a very happy and peaceful hermit. I am also a better Christian now that I am not so exhausted.