This past Sunday, we did it again. As a church, we wrestled again (in the Sunday AM message) with the idea of being non-sectarian. That is actually very important. Some of us grew up in churches where the emphasis seemed to be:
We are the only right bunch.
We are the true bunch.
We are more right than anyone other bunch.
We are the only ones going to heaven.
We are the bunch.
Notice what each one of those sentences start with: "We". Sectarianism (focusing on your bunch as being the depository of truth) keeps us focused on ourselves. As a result we may re-focus the mission. The mission might become, "Let’s see how many people we can get to be like us." Now I know that groups don’t say it that way. In fact,what is usually said is couched in God language. Yet, to the person who is not in the group, it sounds—well, to put it candidly–arrogant.
I believe that those of us who are a part of Churches of Christ need to have a very different spirit. Too many of us have given others reason to use words like arrogant, sectarian, aloof, etc. in reference to us. In the 19th century there were some people who had a much different spirit (Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone). These 19th century figures spoke of the possibility of just being Christians. Now that I find attractive!
There is something very appealing about traveling light.
- Just being Christians, instead of being bogged down with institutional religion.
- Going to Scripture for both belief and practice, wherever it leads us.
- Having a crystal clear purpose: Bringing glory to God (displaying God).
- Having a solid message: Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead.
- Having a reliable power: The Holy Spirit whom we can depend for life and power.
Overly simplistic? Of course it is! But sometimes, until we make it simple it is hard for us to grasp.
I believe that God wants us to be a people who have convictions and yet who have humility as well. Having convictions is not arrogant. Rather, it communicates the importance of what we are learning from God. Having humility means that refuse to be judges. Instead we communicate our convictions understanding that we too have much to learn.