May what happened a couple of weeks ago never happen again. It does, however, illustrate the point. A friend’s mother wanted to obey the gospel. They went searching for a place to baptize her. They had to go to four different buildings of the brethren before they could find a baptistry ready to accommodate them. Either the baptistries had no water in them, or, if they did, the preachers didn’t want to be bothered to have to come and unlock their buildings.
In August, a church in the Southwest announced that it would soon be constructing a full-size gymnasium with a suspended jogging track, locker rooms and a family room with a fireplace. Its plan also includes a playground and a multi-sport area.
Somehow, I think Christians in Africa worshipping on mud floors in cattle shelters, begging, not for concrete or carpet, but for someone to merely come and teach them, I feel shame. My brethren, are we not sleeping in our “beds of ivory?”
Christianity of the first century was a movement, brethren. Not a monument. Early Christians had to worship hiding in caves, in each other’s houses, in dark hallways. But the church grew. There was no room for laziness. Apathy was out of the question. Fear? Now there was fear. They faced torture, brutality, the stake, martyrdom. But they still told the story of the cross. From their caves they shouted it! Our forefathers had a message to declare, not a monastery to consume them.
While I see missionaries having to travel for months, wearing out their cars, going from church to church to beg for funds to take the gospel to the lost in India, the Cameroons, Africa and the Amazon, to people living in mud houses drinking dirty water, to people who bow down before idols. I shudder to see how we have gone too far in our “ease in Zion.”
The blessings God gives us often become a curse hanging around our necks. Good things hinder our very purpose for existence.
Brethren, it’s time we lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us so that we may run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).
For while churches are born in caves, they die in cathedrals.
Larry West, via Thytira Church of Christ bulletin Thyatira MS 1/ 22/ 1995
THE CHURCH IS NOT A HOTEL FOR SAINTS –
IT IS A HOSPITAL FOR SINNERS
Your writer has made this statement for years all over the brotherhood. There is a point, a truth in it . . . but I will never make it again. The church is not a resort hotel – The “Prosperity Gospel.” In one sense the church could be labeled a hospital – it is a servant. It does, in one definition, operate an emergency room for wounded sinners.
However, a hospital is not real life, the marketplace, the street. It means irresponsibility, special care, exemption from daily life duties. In other words – it is therapy, not salvation. A hospital exists to cater to felt needs – not equip men for real life duties. The church, alone, exists to save souls. It must never be reduced to a “Salvation Army” concept.
Now further . . . the Bible never talks about the church as either a hotel or hospital. Back to the Bible! Modernity impacts the church today, tragically, more than the Bible. How does Jesus describe his church?
A TEMPLE – The church is the “temple of God.” This is worship. We see God, then worship. Worship is foundational – our missing ingredient. The church is the church! When the church sees God it is :
STUNNED INTO SILENCE OVERWHELMED BY GRATITUDE
THE KINGDOM – The rule, the reign of God on earth. A theocracy not a democracy. Jesus is Lord. The church obeys. We need to restore the word “kingdom” back into our jargon and lives.
A VINEYARD – This is the field – a responsible place to work. The church is not rehabilitation – it is ministry. We are workers with God. A changed heart results in an obedient life.
THE BODY – Fellowship. We are the people of God. We are a family, a community. We love the local church; we love the brotherhood. Let’s practice Bible things in Bible ways.
Charles Hodge 3/ 17/ 1994 The KeyNoter
Robert Martin, missionary in the Pacific Island, will come and give a report on his work December 29th during 2pm service.