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An Open Letter To The Church Of Christ

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Dear church of Christ,

I’ve been part of you for most of my life now. What drew me to you was everything the Bible says about you, and what Christ gave up in order to have you. You see – in a way I don’t fully understand – in some sense Christ gave up His equality with God the Father so that He could be married to you (Phil. 2:6-8). Why? Because your husband, Christ, is so obviously openly in love with you that sometimes, quite frankly, it makes me blush (Eph. 5:25). In this old world full of wickedness and darkness, I was attracted to that beautiful love. I wanted to be a part of that.

Because Christ loves you, I love you. And there are some things I think you should remember because of what your husband was willing to do for you.

Don’t give up. He’s coming back.

2,000 years since we last saw Him in the flesh with our own eyes seems like a long time to us (2 Pet. 3:8), but Christ could come back at any moment (Matt. 24:44). Don’t lose heart (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

He hand-picked you to be His bride long before the “foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4-5). And He picked you – not a different church – for reasons that were very dear to Him. He wrote about all the qualities He loves so much about you in those 27 books of His Last Will & Testament.

Just as a man loves the details about his wife – how she dresses, how she does her hair, how she interacts with others, how she treats her family – Christ cares about the details of His church. You see, He didn’t pick one of those fancy, highfalutin girls. He picked you because of your simplicity. He expects you to worship Him in a certain simple way (cf. John 4:24; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). He expects you to love His family in a certain simple way (cf. John 13:35). He expects you to arrange yourself in a certain simple way (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). He expects you to simply be loyal to His wishes, not another man’s (cf. 1 Cor. 1:12-13; John 17:20-21).

What I’m trying to say is, I know it’s been a while since you last saw Him. But don’t give up trying to be what He wants you to be. And the only way you can be what He want is by continuing to mimic everything He says in His New Testament, and only His New Testament. Don’t try to be like all the other girls.

Really, that’s all He wants. Christ loved you even when you were unlovable. He has patiently endured your shortcomings. And even during the times you have been unfaithful to Him, He has begged you to come back (Rev. 2:5, 21, cf. Mal. 3:7; Hosea).

Keep the faith. Remain loyal to Him. Pursue fidelity to the pattern of the New Testament. And don’t settle for anything less, no matter how alluring it may be.

Don’t try to be something you’re not.

To put it bluntly, you look kind of silly when you try. When you try to look like all the other girls, you don’t do it very well. You’re like the boy who ran away from home and drank a few bottles of liquor for the first time; when all the other reprobates in the bar at least know how to handle their drinks, you just look like a stammering fool.

When it comes to “doing what seems right to man” (Prov. 14:12), other churches simply do it better than you. If you try to do things that are not authorized in His New Testament – if your worship becomes about what you want – if you bow to political correctness – if your members stop trying to be holy – if you stop holding on to His Word – at best you are just second-rate.

Even when you try to be like them, other churches will still be bigger, have more entertaining services, offer more programs, be more organized, have more influence, and tickle more ears. When you try to be like the world, you’re not very good at it. And you lose all the reasons for people to stick around.

Hold fast to the New Testament (2 Thess. 2:15). Keep doing what you do best. Continue being what Christ loves so much about you.

Don’t forget how much Christ loves you.

Don’t forget what He gave up for you. He died for you (John 3:16). He made Himself submissive to the Father for you (1 Cor. 15:28).

And if you still love him in return, make sure you show it (John 14:15). If you aren’t remaining true to Him out of love, you aren’t doing it by faith (Gal. 5:6).

Remember this: Christ loves you for you. Not the old you, but the new you. Because you have been baptized in Him (Gal. 2:20), the old you is gone. The new you finds identity in Your Husband (2 Cor. 5:17). Therefore, to be you is to resemble Christ’s wishes for you in His New Testament.

Don’t go back to being your old self. Don’t let your love for Him grow cold. Don’t try to be like all the other girls. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

Because He’s coming back. And you want Him to recognize you.

Your loving brother,

Ben

Your comments are welcome and encouraged, even if they are in disagreement. However, please keep your comments relevant to the article. For my full comment policy, click here.

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16 Responses to An Open Letter To The Church Of Christ

  1. eagle4297 September 23, 2015 at 12:00 PM #

    Nice, well said and appropriate for today!

  2. James Glenn September 23, 2015 at 4:07 PM #

    I could not have said it nearly as well, thanks.

  3. CM Sackett September 23, 2015 at 5:06 PM #

    “…for God so loved the WORLD that He gave his only begotten”.

    I spent 30 years amongst you, 14 of those telling you (and any who would listen) about the King who loves sinners. I never found a single gathering (from Scotland to Poulsbo… and ALL points in between)… not one, that had any trouble with “self image”.

    In fact, nearly every “lesson” or sermon I heard was specifically about, or got around to the “uniqueness” of… “the church” (referencing yourselves, EXCLUSIVELY).

    I have never witnessed a “church of Christ” have ANY problem finding a mirror to lose themselves in, going on and on and on about their “uniqueness” among all others who long for His return.

    What I did witness, with amazement and growing revulsion, was your fierce aversion to laying down the Oedipus glass… picking up your candles… and joyfully, relentlessly lifting them high, giving the Son ALL the glory for the Light that other SINNERS found through your shining, in this otherwise dark world.

    Any bride worthy of the sacrificial love of a King, focusses solely on her good husband. The radiance of her countenance is nothing less, and nothing else than her thanfullness for such sacrifice.

    That is what makes a true bride of Christ… and that is what makes her truly unique.
    -CM Sackett-

    • Ben September 24, 2015 at 6:39 AM #

      CM –
      I’m sorry to hear that has been your experience. It has not been my experience, and it hopefully is not the experience of those who hear from my pulpit every Sunday. What has been my experience, however, is the almost constant focus on glorifying the Son, both in word and in deed.
      You see, the church cannot both “focus solely on her good husband” while at the same time not preserving her doctrinal fidelity to Him. Jesus expects more than lip service (Matt. 15:8). Despite what you say, “focusing on her good husband” and focusing on her “uniqueness” are not mutually exclusive. If we want to glorify Him, we need to start by following only His last will and testament.
      I’m sorry to hear you have left the church. There are no saved people outside of the kingdom (Col. 1:13), which is His church (Matt. 16:18). Please come back. I’m sorry that you are so bitter against the Lord’s imperfect – and often times imbalanced (though well intentioned) – people.
      -Ben

    • blueturtle2008 September 25, 2015 at 6:48 AM #

      There is a “uniqueness” in that the body that is called the Church of Christ follows the scriptures, not adding to or taking away. I guess other “organizations” feel it necessary to have the rock bands, entertainment, baptismal sprinklings-spritzings , and other features not found in the scriptures. I have never felt the need to be entertained when I am assembled with the body of Christ.

  4. Elihu September 23, 2015 at 5:33 PM #

    Well said! Thank you for posting this and encouraging all of us to stay true! God be with you.

  5. Peggy Gunn September 23, 2015 at 10:14 PM #

    Ben the letter is so beautiful it made me tear up. Thank you for writing it, sometimes we forget what the church cost.

  6. Terry September 24, 2015 at 6:41 AM #

    This is nice and very well written. I will be sharing it.

  7. KS Wilson September 24, 2015 at 9:45 AM #

    Well said.

  8. Sue Hatfield September 24, 2015 at 11:44 PM #

    It’s true. We should seek for simple worship to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He knows our heart and purpose of assembly. To remember his death, lest we forget the sacrifice of our Lord to redeem all people, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. He gives us so many hours in a day, surely we can serve him in many ways. Christ died for the church. Jesus is the sweetest name I know. I love the Church of Christ wherever she may be in this land and everywhere. She will prevail even til the end when he calls his children home to glory. Won’t it be wonderful there. Eternity depends on service and faithfulness to him.

  9. Susan Carter September 25, 2015 at 9:46 AM #

    That was wonderful, I also have been a member of Eastside Church of Christ in Portland Oregon for 45yrs now. There was a time I tried to hide from God and my church. But I realized you can’t hide from God. I’m so grateful for knowing him and feeling is love. Now that I’m clean and sober 8 yrs . I still think about what I’d do to escape God ,and think how emature I was. God is so good he’s so good to me… I love him so , I love him so he’s so good to me!!!

  10. Paul September 25, 2015 at 1:11 PM #

    Paul was speaking to baptized, born again Christians, added to the church, washed in the blood, saints, babes in Christ, when he said “do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Christianity has to be taught and has to be learned, just as we learn to live in the world. The scriptures teach but we must practice its principles to develop the “mind of Christ”. It’s a lifestyle, the Way of life, and not an activity. We let culture influence the church, and us-conforming to the world-instead of the other way around. We are born and raised in a so called Christian nation with its adulterated view of Christianity. This makes this difficult for us to transform our minds—ie: change the way we think–having eyes to see and ears to hear. It was the adherence to scriptural authority that attracted this Presbyterian and then college Baptist and then Presbyterian and then nothing, as the teachings of the denominational world were not in conformity with what I read in scripture.. It is not an easy thing to deny self and follow Christ, but thats what He calls us to do. It’s like learning any new thing. You have to use your senses but most importantly practice what you have learned through failures and success -like learning to ride a bike. It is frustrating when I see the the church headed to a place I left. I see plain, simple worship in India, Cambodia, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania. Zimbabwe, the Carribbean, Zambia and the other places where I’ve worked with Christians. I see the gospel work its purpose . My prayer is for my brothers and sisters in Christ, inclluding myself to get back to our focus on Christ, His teachigs, His church and the practice of Christianity, being in the world as salt and light and not of the world.

    • dwhitsett September 25, 2015 at 3:50 PM #

      The nail hath been hitteth on the head. Well said. May we remember who we are and that our mission is to be the light of the gospel of Christ to a world stumbling around in the darkness.

  11. Bob Chapman September 25, 2015 at 6:25 PM #

    Ben, it is admirable to be the bride; surely though our focus should be how we are to be adorned…”And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen IS the righteous ACTS of the saints”. Is there enough linen to cover us or have we cloistered ourselves from doing righteous acts among the poor, needy, deprived, lost sinners outside our cloister? Blessing Bob Chapman

  12. Brett September 25, 2015 at 10:26 PM #

    Well said, Ben. When I read “Just as a man loves the details about his wife”, I thought how husbands also love their wives *despite* their foibles which bug them. There’s a lot about His bride that must bug Christ, but he still loves us. We’re a lucky (blessed, actually) bride!

  13. Blake T. October 8, 2015 at 9:43 AM #

    Plain and simple.

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