A reader says he has “serious doubts” about the gracEmail which counseled a couple in search of a church home. “Finding a place you feel comfortable will not be the answer,” he wrote. “Above all you will have to follow God’s will and his word. Sitting in a chicken house will not make you a chicken and sitting in some church that makes you feel warm and fuzzy will not make you a Christian. Where do you preach and worship? I hope you remember that your answers to people will be held to your account.”
* * *
Good brother, I did not say one should look for a place that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. I said look for a place where the gospel is preached, where the fruit of the Spirit is evident and where the Presence of God is apparent. And I defined the ancient gospel according to the New Testament and the history of orthodox Christianity. The truth makes free and brings abundant life. Any religious teaching which enslaves people and diminishes spiritual life is not Christian truth, whatever claims it might choose to make and regardless of the number of Scripture texts it quotes.
Where I assemble is really beside the point. As it happens, I am an ordained preacher and elder in the Churches of Christ and belong to a local Church of Christ. By the grace of God, I am also privileged to teach and minister from time to time among others of God’s widely-diversified family, including Episcopalians and Pentecostals, Methodists and Presbyterians, Adventists and Baptists. No group is perfect, but I am convinced that God can work through them all. We need to look beyond denominational and sectarian labels and to relate with fellow believers throughout the whole body of Christ.
I am keenly aware of my accountability to God, which is exactly why I always try to answer questions according to the gospel and not to seek the favor of any human being. It would be far easier to draw the circle narrowly and to try to please some particular religious group. I have chosen instead to draw the circle broadly to include all who profess faith in Jesus Christ and who seek to follow him, to acknowledge that no Christian group has any exclusive claims on God or on his truth, and to share what I have learned while also learning from those with whom I share. I believe this approach obeys the Scriptures, honors Christ and builds up the people of God.