Restoring New Testament Christianity has never been an easy thing. Sometimes we have to take an honest look at where we are, to see where we need to go….
Dad was resting in a Motel in a Metropolitan city where he was holding a meeting and was looking through the Yellow Pages for “Churches of Christ.” He was just wondering I guess, how many were there etc… He also noticed how several indicated what made them different from other “Churches of Christ.”
I guess it was interesting to him to find that there were those that indicated they were Anti-Kitchens, One Cup, Instrumental, Non-Instrumental, etc… In his lesson on UNITY I found some notes he wrote entitled “Yellow Pages.” His idea was what if we put the following in the YP for everyone to see.
1. No located preacher
2. We use buses
3. We have Bible classes
4. No kitchens here
5. We support (Christian) orphan’s homes
6. “Singles” welcome
7. “Divorced” not welcome
8. We eat in the building
9. We use ONE CUP
10. No Sunday School here
11. We send missionary support directly to missionaries
12. We do not believe in church co-operation
13. We don’t co-operate with other congregations.
14. “Whites Only”
15. We support Herald of Truth”
16. All races welcome
17. No money given to non-members
18. We are anti-bussing
19. We have a located preacher
20. We sign pledge cards
21. We are against Crossroads
22. We have a church softball team
23. We use instruments (Instrumental)
24. We don’t use instruments (Non-Instrumental)
To be honest with you, if I found a list of Churches with things like this in the Y.P., I would be pretty embarrassed, but then I am not the One we serve or seek to please. Actually, there are some congregations with a few items listed above.
WHAT IF each congregation (part of the blood bought body of Jesus Christ), listed what they are FOR or AGAINST in the yellow pages, or put them on their signs? The important question is WHAT DOES THE WORLD THINK? The critical question is WHAT DOES JESUS THINK?
JESUS prayed, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one — 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).
I think Charles Hodge put it best, in a short letter he wrote me, where he responded to my inquiry on how to deal with “Church issues.” Of course it doesn’t take him long to say what’s on his mind… He said,
“My most often piece of advice is GROW UP!”.
His advice sounds a bit hard, but then Charles is in his 80’s and has seen a lot and counseled many brethren. Honestly, we need his advice. My thoughts are that if the body of Christ on earth (all baptized believers irregardless of the list above) is ever to find UNITY, we have a lot of “growing up in Christ” to do. Being a Christ-like-one means growing in grace… Growing in grace means we will learn how to deal with differences, let God be the Judge on many things instead of dividing over everything, and present to the world, we ARE ONE IN THE SPIRIT AND LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY.
Preacher: When you get up to speak before the people of God, and you are offering your opinion on something, why not just say, “This is my opinion.” “You don’t have to agree with me on this.” It may just be refreshing.
Also, when teaching a class, have the class (or congregation) repeat this phrase
“I just don’t agree with you on that.” Of course you may have to repeat this to get participation. Then you may say (if there are late-comers), that they may be tempted to go look at the sign outside, because we just don’t allow disagreements do we?
Grow in grace!
(This was first issued in “Restoration Summit 2015” a discussion now going on at Linkedin.com (Groups).