A QUESTION OF IDENTITY
Meanwhile, back at the coffee shop . . .
An elderly couple had observed my study habits every Sunday morning for some weeks. Finally, they decided to speak to me. “I’ll bet you get a lot of sermon material from those guys.” He said, pointing to a loud group of coffee drinking regulars. I smiled and was about to enter the teasing when his wife asked that predictable question, “What denomination are you with?”
My mind jumped into high gear and the options raced before me. She was curious to hear which religious group I was hired out to as a preacher. It would be easy to say “Church of Christ” and be done with it. Her curiosity would have been satisfied with that. But I know that is a wrong answer.
“I’m not with a denomination,” I said. By now, her husband had paid the bill and she had her coat fully buttoned. I knew the conversation was about to end as quickly as it started. “Well, you know what I mean,” she said. “What does your group call yourself?” She had me. “We simply look upon ourselves as the church of Christ,” I said. Of course, that translated to her mind as “Church of Christ.”
“O.K.,” came the reply. “Church of Christ, Methodist, Baptist . . . they are all basically the same. Each has their own little quirks.” Conversation over. Couple out the door.
Identity has always been a problem for us. The world sees us as denomination among denominations. It’s hard to overcome that!
As long as we look and act like the next religious group down the block, we are going to continue to have an identity problem And when I hear a brother, “I’m Church of Christ (or, more accurately, ‘ChurchaChrist) and my family has been Church of Christ for years,” then I realize that the problem of identity is not only with the world.
Guy Orbison, Jr. Durango, CO.
A STEP ABOVE
“I’m not satisfied with mediocrity or the status quo. I believe in moving ahead and better for God today that I was yesterday. I have the same feeling for the church.”
As individuals and as a congregation we cannot afford to let the average, or the ordinary become our way of life. GOD HAS CALLED US TO GREATNESS. We represent the Supreme cause of this universe. Mediocrity will not get the job done.
Here are eight points that will raise us above mediocrity.
A GRUMBLE-FREE CHURCH — a body where no one grumbles, complains, criticizes or gripes. Folks get enough of that at home and work. They want to see a church where love controls all.
A “SKY’S THE LIMIT” CHURCH — a group of believers who really believe that God specializes in the impossible, and will plan her activities that way so that God gets the glory.
A MAGNANIMOUS CHURCH — Webster defines that: “manifesting generosity in forgiving insults and injuries.” A body of believers who do not get hung up on trivia, gossip, slander, and nitpicking.
A VERTICAL CHURCH — A great church is a church made up of people whose hearts are lifted to God in trusting, believing prayer. She is not afraid to make big requests because her God is big.
A HORIZONTAL CHURCH — a great church gets up off her knees and reaches out to people with the life changing, lifesaving gospel.
A GENEROUS CHURCH — Jesus declared, “Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). A big-hearted church that rises above the midcore level is a big-giving church.
A BURDENED CHURCH — a people with a real burden for the lives of people who need the gospel and the fellowship of the family of God makes for a great church.
A GOD-GOVERNED CHURCH — not a democracy, or a majority rule, but a God-run church, operating through competent leaders, committed to Jesus and His Cause.
We don’t have to be content to be an ordinary church. We can be a step above! God help us to always live above mediocrity. (Written by our favorite writer — Anonymous)
SICKNESS IN THE BODY
The body of Christ cannot function properly without a spirit of cooperation among its members. In 1 Corinthians 12, the body of Christ is likened to a physical body. From the physical standpoint we understand how important it is for each member of our body to function properly. When there is a breakdown, sickness, hospitalization and too often death occurs. Therefore, great care is given to properly care for our physical bodies and rightfully so. But what about the body of Christ? For it to function as God wants each member must function each member must do his part; carry his own load.
The problem with every church is that there is sickness in the body — SPIRITUAL SICKNESS. When members are untrue to Christ the body suffers. Oh, how we need the cooperation of every member of the body of Christ. Some have such bad attitudes that they are against every idea just to be contrary. Others are so envious that they are afraid if someone gets more recognition that they will not cooperate. Then some seek glory for themselves. These are power hungry and want the preeminence and therefore discourage the cooperation of others. They must always call the shots and be the boss. Others totally rebel against Christ, not caring how they live or what they say.
Yes, the physical body should be cared for, but surely, we realize how much more important the body of Christ is. You are I are members of that body. How are we doing? Are we spiritually sick? Concerning the corruption of the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, Paul wrote, “for this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” (1 Corinthians 11:30). It’s sad when members of the body of Christ are weak, sick and even dead spiritually. Care for the members of your body, but please don’t neglect your soul! The body is temporal, the soul is eternal. (Ken Tyler, The Exhorter June 30, 1985)