“I got my hand on the gospel plow, Won’t take nothing for my journey now, Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on” Pete Seeger adapted from traditional folk lyrics.
Life can easily distract us from what is really important. Staying focused on the big picture helps us avoid the trivial pitfalls of life.
I belong to the Church of Christ. We don’t see ourselves as a denomination but rather as a group trying to connect with the early first-century church. As a result, we supposedly have no creeds except what the Bible teaches. Other ‘denominations’ make that claim too but it becomes readily apparent in practice that they follow some teachings of a man or woman outside of the Bible.
The Church of Christ as a whole isn’t doing well as our membership is decreasing. I can point to several things which I believe is the fault. The rise of ‘Chruch of Christ’ colleges to produce ‘ministers’ is probably chief. The problem is when a church seeks to hire a man to do the ministerial work. The Bible teaches that every member is both a minister and a priest. Thus every member should be busy doing something to contribute to the church as a whole. Instead what happens is that the service to God is reduced to showing up at Sunday services and giving a donation.
Secondly, we as a group have become irrelevant. We do not address the pressing issues of our time. I was watching a debate between Church of Christ ministers where the subject was whether or not in worship should we use musical instruments. The Bible itself has scarce words to say on the subject and the teaching, in my opinion, is not crystal clear. But one side will readily condemn the other to hell for their ‘error’.
I can think of a hundred other topics of more importance that deserve to be discussed. Evangelism, the evils of war, helping the poor, helping the elderly, living a spiritual life, the list is very long. Not only are these things very prominent in people’s lives but there are plenty of scriptures which talk on the subject. Thus a thorough discussion would be conclusive rather than ambiguous. Obviously, the two ministers don’t grasp the fundamentals of the gospel or they wouldn’t be debating the use of musical instruments. There are so many more important things that both sides agree on. By focusing on the few dividing topics what the results are is the splitting of the church.
If I came up to you and said, “Join my church because we don’t use musical instruments,” would that be a persuasive argument? But if I said to you “Come and join the church of Christ because through the teachings of Jesus Christ we can restore and rebuild your broken life and help others in this world.”
Another thing I see in the Church of Christ is the desire for men to rush into the pulpit. These same men, for the most part, aren’t rushing to go into the community to preach the gospel. I recall a gospel meeting that we had in a congregation. There were probably about three hundred people present. We sang some songs, and the preacher preached. In fairness, he did a good job. Then at the end, the ‘minister’ of the church asked the visitors to raise their hands so that they could receive a free packet with information. There were three visitors. Now wouldn’t our time have been better spent if all three hundred of us went into the community for an hour and talked to the people there?
But, no, ministers will fly across the country more readily than talk to somebody down the block. It’s a tit for tat deal. The minister, who is getting a salary from his home congregation, travels all expenses paid, to preach at another congregation. Not only does the minister get paid for preaching but he gets a ‘love offering’ from the congregation. Now when one minister invites another he expects an invitation in return. Sadly it is more about money than saving souls.
Physician heal thyself. Truly if I was wiser I could come up with more than words. That is true but in time I hope to do so. My wife at the moment is very ill and requires around the clock care. But at the end of my life, I plan to go out into the vineyard to reach those which are lost. I contemplate on the eight years I spent as a volunteer missionary into the inner city of Newark, where we conducted a door knocking campaign every year. Pray all goes well.
Please check out my book “Sunset Sonnets.” It is a powerful, spiritual look at death and dying. https://amzn.to/2MzQC7l