Caps and Spiritual Development

…straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! ESV Matthew 23:24

In recent years, in conservative theological circles, God’s Spirit has created a great resurgence of the gospel. Across denominations, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses, leaders and organizations increasingly focus on the cross of Christ. I greatly rejoice in this development and believe it brings tremendous positive changes for the kingdom. However, every generation has its blind spots, and I often wonder what my generation is missing in our passion to focus exclusively on the gospel. What things will be exposed when I stand before the throne of Christ?

This past week I attended a large youth conference where over 900 young people and 300 of their leaders met to worship the Lord and serve the community. I couldn’t help but notice the number of people wearing hats in the worship service and during prayer. I wasn’t concerned about the teens…no one had taught them better. However, the band (all my age) and many of the group leaders (my age and older) also wore caps throughout the worship service and prayer times. As I reflect on this observation, I’m wondering if perhaps in our exclusive focus on the gospel, we are missing the opportunity to develop smaller areas of discipleship such as the meaning of hats and their appropriate use (an entirely separate blog post/theological study in itself…one that’s quite fascinating I might add). Could it be previous generations focused on things such as appropriate use of hats, and the role of women in teaching men (something else I noticed this past week), and in the process somehow forgot to explain the gospel?

Perhaps Jesus noticed things like this when He chastised the Pharisees for straining out gnats and swallowing camels. We often challenge the teaching of the Pharisees, but Jesus seemed to agree with many of their conclusions…after pointing out they missed the big points. Perhaps our return to the gospel is “straining out the camels” instead of “straining out the gnats” of hat use and women teaching men. Granted, no one wants gnats in their orange juice, but if given a choice, I’d rather swallow a gnat than a camel. My inner reflection today challenges me to focus on the gospel, but then press on to align all my life with Christ and His calling. I pray you join me!

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