May 24, 2006

complete lack of compassion

Recently a group of at least 40 climbers attempting to reach the summit of Mt. Everest walked past a man dying of oxygen deficiency. Their goal of reaching the summit was evidently more important to them then making an effort to save the British mountaineer's life; he eventually died.

Luke (10:29-37) gives us the story of the good Samaritan who went out of his way to help a man left half dead by robbers. The priest and Levite ignored the dying man and callously walked past, yet a lowly Samaritan showed compassion and helped:
"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him." Luke 10: 33,34 ESV
The guilty climbers in this article; Hillary rips climbers who left dying man, will forever be haunted by their lack of compassion for a fellow human being. Life is often of little importance to the self-centered who put their ambitions far above the well-being of their companions. It would be interesting to know how they would feel if it was their son, or father, who they left lying in the snow to die!

Before condemning these men to Satan's future habitation; don't we basically do the same thing every day these 40 mountaineers are guilty of; walking past men and women who are dying in sin without Jesus and never offering help, or a word of encouragement?

May 20, 2006

our unfathomable creator

God, being spirit, is not restricted by human form, function, or appearance, but you already know this, so indulge me!

Many entertain an image of God they have seen in a Rembrandt or Michelangelo painting. Some think of God as having long flowing white hair, dressed in a snow-white robe while spending eons perched on a really fancy throne.

This impression many have of God seems way too restrictive. I like to think of God as covering the entire universe equally (or as equally as He wants to,) yet always being near us and working in our lives. Viewing God as a perpetual throne-sitter just doesn't make sense; not that He couldn't run the universe from one location, but how, and why, would God (a spirit) confine Himself to a chair!

Imposing human restraints on deity by our human imagination is always futile. God is not confined to any dimension of time or space, but able to transcend all dimensions even without wearing a cape. God can encompass all things, at all times, in all dimensions, with one hand tied behind His back...if He had a hand and a back.

May 11, 2006

unity concessions

The Lord does not approve of divisions in His body; yet we opt to divide over often insignificant opinions, occasionally over something as simple as personality conflicts.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that unless the divided churches rooted in the Restoration Movement find ways to unite, our prospects of forming any viable unity with churches outside the RM is probably not going to happen.

My overly simplified solution for ending divisions: Perhaps rather than having our occasional (and usually unfruitful) unity conference featuring our most articulate and well known speakers, why not just announce a great big ol' picnic BBQ and allow the conference to take place from table-to-table among the rank-and-file members. If we're truly seeking Christian union then we need to engage the total membership, not just a select few that often present their own thoughts rather than what the congregation desires.

Below are several concessions we might have to live with if any form of unity is realized. There are many more; perhaps you can add others, or give good reasons why we shouldn't concede these:

1. While we may have an aversion to instrumental music we don't have to use it, but we must be willing to allow those who are not adverse to using instruments to do so without condemning them.

2. Churches utilizing one cup, two cups, or hundreds of cups in celebrating the Lord's Supper should not cause divisions, we can choose what we believe to be correct, and let other churches make their choice as well .... it doesn't really matter!

3. Whether to use church contributions for orphanages, colleges, preacher schools, or other places we feel need our help will have to be determined by each church, and respected by other churches that don't agree.

4. Sunday schools are great, and we can continue to use this tool, but for church groups that don't believe it's right, then they should continue Sunday mornings sans the Sunday School System, without either group condemning the other. It should be the choice of each church, and all Christians should understand this is simply a matter of choice and not a life-and-death situation.

We don't have to concede anything that goes against our conscience that we feel is absolute truth, in fact it would be wrong. We just need to realize that as believers we are God's children, and while we may not agree exactly on the scriptures, we can still be ONE in Him.

May 8, 2006

prospects for unity

From birth my religious thinking was shaped and nurtured (warped might be a better term) by a church believing they alone represented the true church on earth. Things were simple in those days; identifying the Lord's church was as uncomplicated as reading the sign over the entrance into the building, if it said CHURCH OF CHRIST it was THE church (although this wasn't always true, some churches that wore the proper name were lost,) any other name written on the sign revealed an apostate church where I had no brothers and sisters to fellowship.

One of the primary objectives of the Restoration Movement was to unite Christians; yet over the years those within the RM have splintered into dozens of separate groups where fellowship, even between churches with the same heritage, is almost nonexistent. What started out as being a noble endeavor to unite God's children has regressed to the point that we seldom, if ever, seek unity with other Christians. Many in the COC honestly believe there can be no unity unless those who disagree with us completely drop their cherished beliefs and fully adopt our viewpoint-we are always right, and your usually wrong!

The religious world is not blind to the failure of the RM to achieve unity, and by our actions it's easy to see that we desire unity only on our terms. In order to have Christian unity we must find a way to show other Christians we truly desire their fellowship without demanding anything of them that God doesn't require.

Since no one is perfect, even the Christian, there will be disagreements on every conceivable doctrine, and if we expect every church to fall in line with our particular beliefs we will always be disappointed. Believe it or not, many people in what many of us might call false churches, actually are honest in what they believe, even if their wrong. Many in the Church of Christ are also honestly wrong in what they believe (this may be a shock to some in the Church of Christ.)

Some questions to ponder:

1. What will those in the COC concede for the sake of unity, and what do we expect other groups we discuss unity with to concede?

2. How well can we accept change after years of believing we alone have the perfect pattern for the church?

3. Do we really expect other groups to throw away their beliefs and adopt our viewpoint?