Home> The Lower Lights> Nov 2002

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  Alan Jones, Editor

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"Brightly beams our Father's mercy

From the lighthouse evermore;

But to us He gives the keeping

Of the light along the shore."

       Published monthly by the church of Christ, 35900 Palmer Road, P.O. Box 86-233, Westland, MI  48166     

Volume 2                                                                December 2002                                                                                  No6 

 

PLAYING BY THE RULES

 

          This Fall the University of Michigan handed down strong sanctions against its basketball program.  The “Fab Five” era with all of its glory is as though it never happened.  The incredible number of wins achieved by the “Fab Five”, as they dominated the hardwood, have been forfeited and are now counted as losses.  The championship banners no longer hang proudly in their gymnasium.  Any reference to the accomplishments of this great basketball team will be forever removed from the history books of the University of Michigan.  The current U of M basketball tem will also suffer by being banned from tournament play.  Why?  Most of the “Fab Five” did not play by the rules.  These amateurs received a large amount of money as loans while they played basketball for the college team, a violation of NCAA rules.

            Though we may not like these sanctions and though we may not agree with what has been imposed, surely we understand and agree with the principle that to win you have to play by the rules.  As a society, we see this principle in sports, but we do not see it in religion.  The common thinking is that one can believe, live, teach, and worship as he pleases and still make it to heaven.

           However, when Paul explained to Timothy how he should live as a Christian, he said, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Tim 2:5).  To the church in Corinth, Greece, where the Isthmian Games (second only to the Olympic Games) were held every  three  years,  he  wrote,  “I  discipline  my 

 

body and make it my slave,  so  that  after  I  have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”  (I Cor 9:27).  The word for “preached” comes from a Greek word meaning “to announce the rules.”  Paul realized that he could spend a lifetime announcing the rules to others, but if he did not live by them himself, he would be disqualified from receiving God’s prize.  Therefore, he practiced great self-discipline to live within the rules.

            The gospel, the New Testament, is the Rulebook men must live by and one day be judged by.  Paul spoke plainly about living by the Rules when he said about the Judgment Day, “on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.” (Rom 2:16).  Jesus said that many will profess to Him at the Judgment that they did many good things in His name, but He will tell them to depart because they have practiced lawlessness (Mt 7:21-23).  They did not do the will of His Father.  They did not follow the Rules!

                  Since our society thinks that God may be served anyway one chooses, most do not spend time closely examining the Rules to see what they are.  They see no reason to discuss the Rules and even condemn debating the Rules.  And, they put forth no conscientious and concerted effort to keep the Rules.  How sad it will be one day when, expecting to receive the reward of heaven, they are disqualified, sent by Jesus to hell, the lake of fire- the ultimate sanction for breaking the Rules- to suffer endlessly.  Won’t you give yourself to careful study of the Rules and strict obedience to them that you might receive the prize of heaven?!!


 

COOKIES AND COFFEE IN THE CHURCH BASEMENT

 

         A radio commercial for a Lutheran financial group says “It takes one to know one.”  The ad tells how Lutherans can recognize fellow Lutherans.  A monotone woman reads off a list of upcoming activities in the church.  At the end of each one she says, “There will be cookies and coffee in the church basement.”  The financial group promises great service to Lutherans and “no basements.”  The commercial would be funny, if it were not so true.

            How sad it is that religion has been reduced largely to social groups with religious trimmings.  “Cookies and coffee” have replaced “conviction” as the distinctive mark of not only the Lutheran church, but of the majority of churches.

            Martin Luther was not a “cookies and coffee” kind of guy.  With great zeal and courage, he stood for his convictions and suffered because of them, as did many denominational founders.  Surely, if they could, they would “roll over in their graves” to see the condition of their churches today.  The “fellowship” of their day was based on faith, not food.  When you hear the word “fellow-ship” today in a “church” conversation, you can almost smell the coffee.  It is the social life that brings and binds people together.  Many do not even know or necessarily believe the doctrine of their church, much less have the ability and the zeal to explain and defend it.

 

            Social activities among Christians have their place.  But, they are not to be confused as “church” activities.  They are to be enjoyed by individual disciples in the home.  The first Christians in Jerusalem continued “with one mind in the temple, and they were breaking bread (eating meals-AJ) from house to house” (Acts 2:46).  There was a time and place for socializing.  It was not in the temple where Christians gathered for worship and study, but rather at home.

            The Corinthian church made a social meal rather than a spiritual memorial out of the Lord’s Supper.  Paul rebuked them, saying, “What!  Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink?... So then my brethren, when you come together to eat (the Lord’s Supper-AJ), wait for one another.  If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment.” (1 Cor 11:22, 33-34).  Paul did not tell the Corinthian church to eat their “cookies and coffee” in the church basement, but rather at home.

               O, for a return to the old days when churches were known for their spirituality, not their shows; their doctrine, not their donuts.  Then, with open Bibles, we could do as they once did- sit down privately to discuss or stand up publicly to debate what the truth of Jesus really is.  This will never happen as long as churches exist as social clubs, where belief is unimportant, and members sip coffee and crunch cookies in the church basement.

     

 


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