I live in a great, very old city. It was begun hundreds of years ago in an area that was, at that time, largely agricultural. Down through the years it was known for producing world-class wool. Over the centuries the city grew, changed its name and became a diversified business community. Located right on a major highway, the city also became a center for transportation, as well as commerce.
Because the businesses of the area have been profitable, the people who work in them have enjoyed great economic success. In fact, there is no real poverty in this area so I guess it would be okay to say that economically no one is lacking. Pretty cool, right?
The people of this area are interesting and very diverse — many different races and lifestyles — but everyone is exceedingly tolerant. In fact, our town is rich in tolerance and understanding, with a philosophy of “Live and let live.”
While there is lots of acceptance about different philosophies and lifestyles, there are some things we just will not allow to happen here. For instance, we do not allow radical positions nor do we allow anything extreme that would upset the core values of the area. We are a culturally relevant community — let me give you an example of what I mean.
As a community, we are open to churches of all faiths as long as they do not promote extreme positions. If some firebrand with a heated-up message of his own belief system comes to town and tries to trumpet that position, he is firmly told to be quiet and tone down the message or move on. We have rules and laws against that kind of extreme behavior!
Churches are to serve the people and not to proselytize. Those who go out and try to convince people that their belief system is right and others are wrong are considered extremists, and in a culturally relevant city like this that is a definite no-no! As I said, the churches are to serve the people and let the people come to them if they feel they need some form of religious experience in their lives.
All the different religions get along just fine here because, as we see it, they are all about the same thing. They worship the same God and they are moving toward the same ultimate destination. The churches just have different names and different ways to achieve the same end result.
Personally, I am drawn to the Christian church. I like their people, I like the way they do things, and I like their message. It is a message that makes me feel good about myself. Our church is the greatest place in the world to meet people. There are lots of singles because marriage is considered old-fashioned and same sex relationships are accepted. My live-in boyfriend and I met at one of the mixers for singles at the church and we are planning to have a church wedding next spring. Hey, there are even lots of “grey hairs” among us!
I like the social activities and the way the churches build us up with the emphasis on personal success and how to get the most out of life. I find this kind of approach very edifying.
A little earlier in the article I mentioned extremism and our church is a good example of how that can be handled. We had a couple of incidents recently that our church leadership had to deal with.
One of them was an outside group that came into town and began telling people in our church that the Bible was the final authority for everything that relates to the Christian Church. In addition, this group proclaimed that Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was not the center of our church at all! Well, you can imagine how that went over. The church leadership had to get involved and remove these people by force. In the process there were some pretty strong conversations about Jesus, the Bible and the place they used to have in the church. We are way beyond that kind of thinking now. We still keep the Bible and images of Jesus around but only to remind us of where we came from. I mean, really now, is the Bible, which was written at least two thousand years ago, relevant to us today? I mean — really?
And then there was another group that came and were “way out there” extreme. They started talking about prophecy! Lots of our people are really into prophecy like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce and all that stuff, but these guys were discussing prophecies about this town. Apparently a portion of the book of Revelation has the name of our city in it. You can imagine how upset the leadership got when this group told us we needed to repent and get right with God. We sent that group packing in a hurry!
The name of our church is “The Door” and one of this prophecy group had the audacity to say, “Jesus wants to come and bless your lives. He is standing at ‘the door’ and knocking.” How weird is that?
Hey, in my rush to tell you all about our city, I just realized I forgot to tell you the name of our great town. It’s Laodicea, one very laid-back place to live!
Written by David Patterson. You can find more about him – HERE