Nov 14, 2005

The Church Of Diotrephes

Many moons ago I had the misfortune to meet with a church sporting a dyed-in-the-wool Diotrephes preacher. There was about 300 members at the time, yet in his eyes no one was qualified to be an elder, so he assumed the role of Super Solo Preacher/Elder. Occasionally talk was heard of selecting elders and deacons, but not for long, these novel ideas were quickly squelched and a few heads rolled.
"I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church."
3 John 9, 10 (ESV)
Over time a clique developed and only those core members supporting his inerrant opinions were considered truly Christian. Many members left disenchanted, others were withdrawn from, and sent scurrying down the road. After about ten years only 50-60 hard core members that are completely in subjection to his leadership remain at this location.

This church will not work with--and in many cases not recognize--other Churches of Christ in the area, because in his eyes all other COC groups have gone astray, and are no longer a part of the Lord's church. This preacher (?) goes beyond the precept that only COC groups are members of Christ's body; only his church, and those believing exactly like him are acceptable to the Lord.

Men who demand total control of a church, and refuse to work in tandem with other members will destroy that church. They will not tolerate any opinions other than their own perfect understanding of God's Word, and will fight to the bitter end to uphold their self-appointed position against all comers.

Nov 6, 2005

Huge Logs And Sawdust

Many "churches" have a vision problem; they see all the little flaws in other "churches," but seem incapable of seeing huge flaws in their own group.
"Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother 'let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (ESV Matt 7:3-5)
Christians habitually entering the Sunday morning worship service with long solemn faces consider this expression (attitude) to reflect the seriousness of the service and the majesty of God; other members waltz in sporting happy faces, reflecting what they feel exemplifies God's love, and they smile because they appreciate all the blessings He has lavished upon them. Both on occasions comment that the other bunch doesn't see the "worship service" in the right perspective. Both see logs in their brother's eye.

The Lord's table is an example of trying to find the appropriate face (attitude) to partake of the emblems in the proper manner. While the emblems represent His death and burial, they also represent His resurrection from the dead. One person is thinking of what He had to go through for us and is sad, another is pondering His resurrection to life and a future eternal life with Him, and they are smiling and happy.

It seems to me that all we can do is accept differing attitudes (smiley faces & solemn faces) with unfeigned love for them in our hearts, and realize that we sometimes just see things differently, neither group may have the wrong attitude, just a different perspective.

We are all different. Sometimes we carry a speck in our eye, and at other times a log. It certainly doesn't behoove me to resent another Christian because they don't see things the way I do! We may be members of His body, but we differ drastically at times, and none of us, on every occasion, will meet the expectations of our brothers and sisters perfectly.

One church may continually find fault with other churches because they don't fit into their rigid expectation of what constitutes a perfect church, this is an example of a church with a long solemn face. The happy-face churches don't appreciate the insinuations that they are not truly Christians, but only pretenders; so they denounce the "perfect church" as delusional, and on-and-on it goes!

All Christians should have as their goal a unified local church, willing to accept each other in spite of their differing hermeneutic and varied opinions. It should also be the goal of the "my-way-or-the-highway" churches to acknowledge they have brothers and sisters in "churches" other than their own tribe, and together they constitute the living body of Christ.