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Views: The church and Pandora

Are we limiting our spiritual community to our 'playlist?'

Remember the days when AM/FM radio was virtually the only source of music available while traveling?
Unless your car had an eight-track or cassette player, you were at the mercy of a local radio station for music and entertainment while on the road.  Even if you could tune in to a station that played your favorite style of music, there were those times when songs were played that you didn’t particularly like. You learned to tolerate it until the next selection came on the air.

Views | Jan Knox

Then a few years ago, Pandora came on the scene, and suddenly a whole new world of managing music opened up. With Pandora, you can build your own personal radio station on your computer or iPhone. You can select a music genre or artist and then, when a song is played, you can give it a “thumbs up” to keep it on your playlist or a “thumbs down” to remove it. You can pick and choose whatever you want, creating your own blend of music and never again have to tolerate listening to music you don’t like.

We can become so accustomed to the Pandora concept that we begin applying it in other areas of life, including the church. Why should we tolerate worship styles we don’t like and people with whom we have little in common when we can just build our own “church,” choosing a personal “playlist” of people and activities we want?
Our spiritual community becomes our Bible class, our small group or the Christian friends with whom we hunt, shop or do kids’ sports. We have little or nothing to do with God’s people outside of that circle. We may attend a Bible class with our peers but skip the worship assembly because it “doesn’t fit my style or meet my needs.” Or we may hang out in the fellowship center with our friends on Wednesday night instead of attending a Bible class because “I’m not interested in anything being offered, and I don’t know those people in class.” Such thinking and behavior is indicative of a Pandora mentality.
The Pandora concept in the church is really nothing new. In fact, the first century church in Corinth had its own form of it. Members of that local body had broken off into groups, building their own “playlists” around their favorite church leader, as discussed in 1 Corinthians 1:11-12. Some resonated with Paul’s analytical approach, while others preferred Apollos’ dynamic style. One cluster liked Peter’s “live in the moment” way of life, and then there was the group that followed only Christ.
Rather than commend this practice, the Lord, through Paul, points out its divisiveness and makes an appeal for unity of mind and thought. Then, in 1 Corinthians 12, he states that everyone baptized by one Spirit forms one body and is a part of that body, belonging to one another. As mere parts of the body, we are not in a position to determine who belongs and who doesn’t.
Only God, as head of the body, has the authority to build and arrange the “playlist” — not us, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 12:18. Our job is to accept each one that God adds to the body and have equal concern for one another (see verse 25).
So if you find that you have created your own narrow Pandora “playlist” in the church, decide now to broaden your horizons to include and participate with everyone God has added to his body of believers, whether they share your choice of style and interests or not. You might be surprised how blessed and enriched your life will be as a result.

JAN KNOX is an administrative assistant, minister’s wife, and ladies’ Bible class teacher for the Granbury Church of Christ in Texas.

Filed under: Headlines - Secondary Views

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