Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Case For Engagement

During the War Between the States there was a cavalry engagement at Thompson's Station, TN near Nashville.  The Southern force was being pressed from both their front and rear.  When asked for orders the Southern commander replied; "Charge in both directions!"  They won the day.

I am reminded of that line in the great hymn, Just As I Am.  
Fightings within and fears without, oh Lamb of God, I come, I come!
The church of Christ today continues to face the foes of sin and strife from outside the body of Christ as she has since the beginning.  She is also facing today those within who are attempting her destruction.  Jude refers to these as those "who have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation..." - Jude 4 (ESV)  In a way of speaking, they "came in through the side door unnoticed."

None of us can judge anyone else among us, that is up to God and only God.  However, there are those who insist upon the division of the Body of Christ in order to possess the instrument.  It truly is an "instrument of division."  They must be confronted, engaged and stopped!  Paul clearly teaches in Romans 14.23 that if any Christian holds a divisive opinion he "should keep it between (him)self and God." (ESV)  Regardless of all the biblical reasons to reject the instrument, it should NEVER be adopted for it divides the Body of Christ.  Not only does it divide the Body as a whole, it often divides congregations.  Many "double minded" elderships purposely divide their flocks between so-called "traditional" and "contemporary" worship hours.  Two worships, two assemblies and two interpretations of the Bible. Which is right?  Which is wrong?  Who is right?  Who is wrong?  James tells us that "a double minded man is unstable in all his ways." - James 1.8.  Elijah the great prophet asked the Baal worshiping Israelites of his day; "How long will you go limping between two different opinions?" - I King 18.21b (ESV)  There is no such thing as a "multiple truth" where both parties can be right before God simultaneously while advocating two different things.
The instrument cannot be both right and wrong!
 "IF" we assert that the instrument is wrong we must say so!  If we no longer believe it we must adopt it's use and begin teaching that those who fail to use it are in error before God.  Compromise is not an option for compromise is just another word for surrender and lukewarmness.  It is time we engaged the dividers of the Body with the truth proclaimed in love.

In times past brethren who disagreed would hold a public, logical, reasonable and monitored debate so that ideas and facts could be presented in a non-emotional setting.  Today, debates in the true sense of the word are nearly extinct.  Taking their place today are  un-monitored, emotional and opinionated rantings in the most prominent media vehicle among churches of Christ, The Christian Chronicle.  In the current on-line edition of the paper (today being 14 May 2012) there appears an article examining the question as to whether or not the instrument faction is seeing a rise in attendance because of the devise.  As I am writing this article there have been 36 responses.  Of those responses, only 4 quote or refer to any Scripture!  That makes only 11.1% of those responses, at least partly, based on Scripture.  This writer attempted on several occasions over the last two days to post Scripture based responses but, for whatever reason, they are no longer there.

Why assert engagement?  James makes it simple; "My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins." - James 5.19-20 (ESV)

Won't YOU engage?  Just go to this link, scroll to the bottom and write your Scripture based comments for all our erring brethren to see.  Perhaps some will repent!

The general flavor of the comments posted rest upon the assumption that to use or not to use the instrument is just an "opinion."  God does not really care if we do or not use it - so appears the typical sentiment.  In fact, there is a certain syncretistic overtone to all of this, a sort of "we can have it both ways" if you please.    This reminds me of the syncretism of the State of Israel from the time of Jeroboam until the Babylonian exile.    Websters On Line Dictionary defines the term as: "the combination of different forms of belief and practice."  ["We will take the instrument while you do not but your'e o.k. and I'm o.k.  We both can be right though our faith and practice is 180 degrees apart."]  THEY wanted it both ways; "We can serve Yahweh AND Baal!"  "Not only that we can change the priesthood, we can alter the focus of our worship and we can change the place of worship.  God won't care..."  Well, He DID care.  He sent prophet after prophet, not to those outside of the covenant, but to those "wandering sinners" inside the covenant.  These prophets were not so-called "defenders of the faith," they were proclaimers of a message of repentance.  That, my friends, is OUR role as we seek to lovingly engage the advocates of the "instrument of division." Our engagement is one of repentance, renewal and restoration while God's mercy tarries.  The need is eternally urgent for we can see, as it were, the dust of the approaching Babylonians just over the next hill.