Pea Soup and Peanut Butter
Every Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, that Rankin/Bass classic, goes on repeat. Whether it's on DVD, VHS, ABC Family, or whatever your preferred media acronym is, Rudolph and his shiny nose (so shiny you could even say it glows) appear on the television set. And great as Rudolph himself may be, my family has always preferred another character: Yukon Cornelius. In one of my favorite moments in the show, Yukon declares, "This fog is as thick as peanut butter!" Hermey retorts, "You mean pea soup." And then Yukon's classic line: "You eat what you like, and I'll eat what I like!"
In a lot of ways, that's how people approach church. There are enough styles of worship, kinds of music, and differing doctrines that we're all presented with a smorgasbord of options for our Sunday morning buffet. Everyone is free to eat what they like, and if someone expresses a preference for something different, they're met with one of two responses: either the other person, like Yukon, lets them like what they like, or they quickly shut the other down with "No, that's not how church should be. You can't like that. Like this instead."
A lot of our man-made traditions are like that. As much as I dearly love hymns -- hymns which have been used in worship for centuries, not just these new 20th-Century gospel songs -- I can't imagine forcing them on someone who really doesn't like them. Of course I want them to appreciate them, but they'll never do that if they truly hate the tunes of those songs. By the same token, we can't force contemporary songs on people and abolish the use of all hymns. If we do, we'll lose a lot of people who feel they haven't been to church unless they've sung six stanzas of "Just As I Am."
As it turns out, we need both pea soup and peanut butter. We have to blend preferences together, make one unit, one body of Christ at worship. As long as what we like is biblical, let's use it. I'll bring the peanut butter, you bring the pea soup, and let's worship Jesus together.