It’s been nearly seven years since I’ve preached in a church of Christ. And on certain nights I lose sleep, suffering through the nightmares that occasionally haunt me as scenes play out from old elder’s meetings, and the negativity cranky members spewed out. So, I’m really not sure why I still engage in conversations surrounding the churches of Christ, in person or on social media.
While I was saved worshiping in a mainline church of Christ, and I preached for about 15 years in churches of Christ, presently I’m preaching in a “non denominational” congregation. It seems weird, nearly sacrilegious, saying I have a love-hate relationship with the C of C, but that sums it up for me.
I love many of the people and the core ideals that are foundational to the acappella branch of the Restoration Movement, but I’m emotionally exhausted and repulsed by the latent legalism and judgmentalism that is corroding her. It seems like I can’t shake off my past completely, since apparently I still care.
Someone recently asked me in a Facebook thread after I pointed out Paul’s practices, why the “brethren” in the C of C ignore Paul’s continued ties to his judaistic roots as Luke records in the book of Acts, and it struck me, if you pull one thread too much, the whole fabric unravels. In other words, if we accept that Paul worshiped with instruments (thus offering an “example or inference” of New Testament believers worshiping with instrumental music), then maybe we are wrong about our acappella stance, and if we are wrong about that, what else might we have been mistaken about? It’s too scary to even contemplate for some.
No matter how firm the foundation is, a house of cards is doomed to failure. The fragile-faith of many of the well-intending but ever so fearful members of the C of C is the crux of the issue. If one gray area can hold complete sway over us, then we are in trouble. There I go, using “we” when most of the folks I know wouldn’t consider me as part of the fold, based on my understanding of the non-essentials.
It’s unhealthy to claim “who’s in and who’s out” because of doctrines that are argued mainly through the silence of the Bible on those topics. To come back from the brink, it’s time to reassess how “we” will deal with gray issues. Simply quoting, “In the essentials unity, the non-essentials liberty, and in all things love” isn’t enough and it has to become more than a platitude, if people are going to grow and mature.
Jesus didn’t say all men would know we were His disciples, if only we would understood every doctrine correctly. He said love was the ultimate testimony. Therefore a good starting point in interpreting and applying the Bible would be to focus on developing love, instead of attempting to prove we are the only ones who are right. Love is the only way to build on the firm foundation.