Monday, April 3, 2017
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. Psalm 143:10 (NLT)
On vacation Elizabeth and I worship with different churches, often of a denomination different than our own. We hung out with the Baptists a week ago, and the Lutherans yesterday. Between our Lutheran fellow Christians’ heavy focus on liturgy, and a diagram a friend posted on Facebook last week, my normal wandering mind drew me to the question I’ve been asked too many times to count: why all the creeds, confessions of faith and different groups?
The diagram[ii] my friend posted on Facebook may help illustrate why doctrine (from which our confessions and creeds are born), is, and has been, safely transmitted from one generation to the next.
Note how on both sides of the diagram the foundation is The Bible. All truly Christian groups start with that, the sacred library of 66 books we call Christian Scripture.
Then note on the right side of the diagram how the arrows (representing our life’s pathway) veer either to the left or right. This demonstrates false doctrine…the believer is led astray; it’s the broad path, not the narrow way Jesus talked about in his Mountain Sermon(Matthew 7:14).
On the left side of the diagram it is different – the creeds and confessions of faith, drawn from the important truths and doctrines Scripture holds as life-giving musts, act like safety bumpers, keeping us on the narrow way.
Have you ever gone to a bowling alley when young children are playing? They place safety “bumper” guards over the gutter channels so the unskilled little ones have a chance at knocking down some pins. The gutter of life is also an open hole of sin into which we humans can slide. Our doctrinal creeds and confessions, repeated often in church and private devotions become an inner guard against false doctrine.
David prayed that God might teach him to do things God’s way. He knew that was the only firm footing for his life. This is the nature of our doctrinal creeds and confessions of faith. They teach us God’s way.
So, the next time you’re asked to stand with your congregation and repeat the creed or confession of faith, or another form of liturgy that your church uses, save the eye-roll or groan…you need to do that!
That’s how we pray like David!
I Title image: Jay at the English language Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons