For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (NIV).
I’ve been in a week-long discussion with people who dearly love the traditional Lutheran liturgy and worship service. That’s the kind of environment in which I was raised; I love it, too. These days, I worship in a place that is pretty non-traditional but still within the Missouri Synod structure. Our services contain all the same elements of doctrine used in more traditional settings. Yet our church focuses on Jesus’ mission in our lives, on being ‘disciples who make disciples who make disciples.’ On being in mission and worship every day, not just for an hour on Sunday.
Come to our church and you’ll find most people in jeans. You won’t find hymnals but you’ll find both new and traditional praise music. You’ll say the same creeds (though not as often) and hear the same Bible. And you’ll be introduced to the living Christ. Yet the focus isn’t on Lutheranism but on Jesus. The letters “LCMS” are on the door but they aren’t where the emphasis is. The folks with whom I was debating would be aghast at this.
Paul affirmed what others in the early church already knew: there is one God and one Savior, one mediator between God and man. That mediator is Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ. He Himself is God and man, Savior and one representing those who need to be saved, fully man while being fully God at all times, and the Son in the triune Godhead of Father, Son, and Spirit. THAT is the message of the faith.
How we proclaim that message is somewhat up to us. Lutherans (and others) call anything not commanded by Scripture “adiophora:” neither God-commanded nor forbidden. In many settings, traditional, liturgical worship works. It faithfully proclaims Christ while encouraging believers. Yet in other settings (such as where I live), a different approach works. My church’s non-traditional methods still faithfully proclaim Christ while encouraging believers. As long as the focus in on proclaiming Christ, we’re arguing about window dressings. One isn’t better than another. They’re simply different ways of accomplishing the same goal, that is proclaiming the one God and one mediator.
If your church uses a generations-old liturgy, traditional hymnals, pastoral robes, and clings to worshipping the same way that generations have, then God bless you! Keep doing it; God is pleased with that. And if your church uses other methods like hymns on the screen, contemporary music, non-traditional schedules, and blue jeans, then God bless you, too. Keep doing those things because they please God, too. Something borrowed, something blue: it’s contemporary tradition.
For further reading: Deuteronomy 6:4, Romans 3:29-30, Galatians 3:20, Matthew 20:28, 1 Corinthians 1:6, 1 Timothy 2:7
Lord, bless our worship of You, the one and only God and one and only mediator.