Some members of the church that nurtured my faith as a young boy believe my own parents ought not come to church with me at Woodmont Hills Church of Christ. Because of what people think of Rubel Shelly, the Woodmont Church, my book on baptism, they believe somehow Dad, who has been an elder for more than 30 years, is going to import the same kind of thinking into the Dewey Church of Christ.
I don’t believe Dewey needs to become Woodmont, nor do I believe any church needs to rise in the image of anyone or any other church–we only seek the image of Christ. What disturbs me is that people are very willing to make judgments based on third, fourth, fifth-hand information. What can we do?
- Go to the source. We need to stop relying on ninth-hand information. One brother who practices this is Ray Myers, who taught me at Dewey when I was in junior high. He has dialogued with me about my views on baptism.
- Stop bearing false witness to things we haven’t seen. Spreading falsehood or sketchy information about things is slanderous and wrong.
- Pray for churches worldwide, that we might bear the image of Christ, not the image of the church of Christ as a denomination but as the true body of Christ that reflects his love. I appreciate churches that get involved in hurricane victim relief and other service and mission, rather than being concerned about how churches in another state sing or organize themselves.
- Be vocal. We cannot sit idly while divisive voices ring out loudly. The gospel is at stake, and we must interact and talk and dialogue about what we believe. Dad, Mom, and I have had more good visits about life in Christ since I became involved in controversial ministries such as Wineskins, ZOE, and Woodmont, than ever before. These conversations have been difficult but needed and helpful, though at times I feel it stresses Mom and Dad out more than it does me.
- Keep paddling where you are. We ought to pay attention to the time and place where we are, rather than worry about what everyone else is doing or not doing. This is a simple lesson my children learn about obeying what they’ve been told rather than taddling on their siblings.
What else can we do? Thoughts?