In 1997 Richard Carlson wrote a very popular book entitled Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…. and it’s all small stuff. In that book he listed one hundred things to make our lives more peaceful. Some of those topics that I took to heart included:
- Let Others Be “Right” Most of the Time
- Learn to Live in the Present Moment
- Surrender to the Fact that Life Isn’t Fair
The things we worry about the most have little real impact on our lives. They are just clutter that gets in the way of having a happier life. As I have come to “not sweat the small stuff” I also come to realize that most of what I was told I must believe as a Christian is also small stuff!
I know this sounds like a rather shocking statement to hear that many of the things of the present day church are just small stuff. But, the more I studied the more I found that to simply be the case. It seems that Christianity has become a recitation of creeds about Jesus rather than taking to heart the actual messages he gave us. There have been literally hundreds, if not thousands, of creeds put out by various leaders and councils of Christian churches and all believers were then expected to automatically pledge allegiance to each of them. Not doing so often meant you were deemed a heretic! In studying them they almost all include things to believe instead of things to do.
The creed that is recited weekly in most liturgical churches today is the Nicene Creed (click on this link to see the words). If you take the time to actually look at the content of this creed you will see that they are all about what to believe instead of what to do. The messages of Jesus were actually the reverse of that. He spent much of his ministry teaching us how to live together and how to please God. Almost nothing in the Nicene Creed even remotely came from Jesus.
When I started studying the practices of the Quaker faith is when this realization came to me. Quakers are very creed averse and I came to find for a very good reason. They believe in acting out faith instead of proclaiming beliefs. When we realize that what we do matter more than what we believe it changes everything. It was an epiphany for me personally to finally realize that fact.
The Christianity of belief in creeds is small stuff compared to actually acting on the words Jesus spoke. Where did we lose this critical understanding? When did Christianity become a “sit back and wait” instead of “acting out our faith” religion? It certainly wasn’t that way in the early church.
Lets get our attention off the small stuff and back to the true messages of Jesus. One of the emergent movement’s focuses is to get back to the true meaning of the Bible as a whole and the gospels in particular. That true meaning is enveloped in the words of Jesus. They must take front and center over absolutely everything else.