Identity Crisis in the Church part II
As was mentioned last week, In many places, the influence of The Church of Christ is being, or has been eroded away to nothing. Why? Has the power of the Gospel diminished? I offered that a primary reason is that Elders and members are allowing our present culture to determine the limits or extents of their conviction and militancy. So much so, that they are removing the name “Church of Christ” from there identity. This is simply another reason the true identity of the Church is in crisis. This is one method used to depart from what they call “traditional Church of Christ” practices, while some assert that there are so called “stigmas” and “prejudices” against those who are members of the “Church of Christ.” Why? Friends, if an uncompromising stand for truth prejudices others against us, so be it! Did Jesus change His name because of outside pressure or scriptural religious differences? Why not?
I am not ashamed of any scriptural stigmas or prejudices the Church of Christ has. I care not one whit what the world, other churches, or the devil and his cohorts believe about the Church of Christ as long as they believe the truth. If they believe error, that’s not my fault; I want to help them, but changing the name of the place where I worship won’t get the job done. If the scriptural appellation, “The Church of Christ” is offensive because it has become and ensign for truth, so be it.
In the first century the cross come to be a symbol for the reprehensible death the sinless Son of God endured. Jesus used the word to demonstrate the lifestyle of commitment and sacrifice His believers must have for the truth’s sake. Paul said, “…if I still preach circumcision, why do I suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.” (Gal. 5:11.) Shall we discard the concept of the cross in favor of a “less offensive” term? The same question must be asked of the name “Christian.” In a growing number of places in the world, the concept of being a “Christian” conjures up deep hatred and prejudice. Shall we just call ourselves “learners” or “disciples” and abandon the name “Christian” given to New Testament believers in Acts 11:26? If we believe a name change is going to change unscriptural views the world has about the Church of Christ, then we need to save our money and send the sign company home. In fact, if neutrality is the objective, then remove any and all vestige of a sign and “leave them guessing.” My friends, we have an identity crisis in the church today.
Suppose we are a “Church of Christ” and previously identified ourselves by that; but now we've changed and no longer identify ourselves that way. Will outsiders believe we are NOT a “Church of Christ” any longer. Is this really the message we wish to convey? We live in a day when few people are going to wander into a meeting house without knowing what to expect. In view of the crazed religious world we live in, that is reasonable. Why leave them guessing? Do people really believe that by changing the marquee on the meeting house, they are going to “trick” people in? Consider Jesus’ words in John 18:20, “I spoke openly to the world. I taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.”
Brethren, let’s drive a stake in deep, take a stand, and hold our ground. The name “Church of Christ” indeed stands for something. You can call it “stigmas” or “prejudices.” I call it something else! It stands for the greatest organization that’s ever been among men, because it was conceived in the mind of Almighty God before the foundation of the world and purchased with the blood of God’s only Son. It stands for “the pillar and ground of the truth” and for those who make an unashamed defense of the immovable truths of the Gospel. It stands for the Bride of Christ; a people who wear the Groom’s name and have made tremendous sacrifices for doing so. If our intention is to somehow veil that from others, shame on us! Does changing the name of the changeless church, of the changeless Christ, portray the concept of stability, security and unity that the world so desperately needs to have any faith in the religion of Christ? I don’t think so. Think about it.