During an evening walk in our neighborhood, I felt—more than heard—the THUMP, THUMP, THUMP of deep bass notes. Some inconsiderate neighbors had cranked their music up to a window-shaking-TEN.
Nearing the source of the clamor, I was surprised to recognize the unmistakable sound of a Chris Tomlin song. An aspiring singer accompanied by guitar, bass, and drums belted out a number by the contemporary Christian artist. I glanced through an adjoining yard and identified the culprits.
A family in our subdivision hosts a weekly small group for a megachurch in the area. The meetings closely resemble the home churches of first century Christianity. The gatherings encourage mutual support and accountability along with worship and study.
The scene inspired mixed feelings in me.
On the one hand, God created us as individuals in need of relationship. At the inauguration of his public ministry, Jesus formed an inner core of disciples. Each believer needs a wider community of faith, and I regularly encourage Christians to get involved in a small group.
On the other hand, claiming the title of Christian puts a believer on public display. People watch closely to see if we walk the walk or just talk the talk. Jesus said that love is the chief mark of Christian discipleship.
So what to think about the witness of my neighbors that balmy evening?
If asked, the people at the home church might describe their warm fellowship, insightful teaching, and inspiring prayers. If asked, the neighbors in the subdivision might grumble about the on-street parking, loud singing, and bass-beat music.
Christians can be right and righteous. At the same time, we can be wrong and self-righteous. Sometimes a thin line only a Pharisee could discern divides the two.
I’m not sure of the question—much less the answer. However, the deep-toned rhythm of contemporary Christian music followed me all the way home.