The world in general knows little about the collective activities of the Lord's church. Most of the world has rarely, if ever, even visited in the assemblies of the local church and learned first-hand how local churches worship, how they study the Scriptures, and how they conduct the work that the Scriptures assign to them. It should not be surprising then that the world's conception of the Lord's church is often misguided and full of misconceptions. The suggestion that the church is a cult is a good illustration of such misunderstanding. Further, as long as the world gathers its information about the churches of Christ from second-hand sources who are misinformed or prejudiced against the church, the world will continue to know little about the church that belongs to Christ.
The principal avenue through which the world learns about the church is through the lives of the saints; therefore, woe is unto us if we are not the salt of the earth! We must be open to the inquiries of the world and be ready to give a correct answer to the questions asked concerning the Lord's church (1 Pet. 3:15,16) and the hope that is in us. We need to encourage people to ask questions and then give them Scriptural answers when they do ask. At the same time, our conduct of life must be befitting of the gospel, the doctrine of Christ (Phil. 1:27-30; 2 Jno. 9). "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Pet. 2:11,12). We can encourage questions by our comments and by the way we answer questions in directness and meekness. Perhaps we need to give more thought to learning how to provoke questions and stir up interest.
After all, who can better answer questions about the Lord's church than the Lord's church itself? If you wanted to get accurate information about a Baptist church, would you ask a Methodist or a Baptist? If you wanted to learn the rules of basketball, would you ask a golfer or read an official basketball rule book? We must, by a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures, equip ourselves for the upholding and defense of the truth (2 Tim. 2:15; Phil. 1:7-17). The Scriptures are our source of information, our standard of faith and practice, our basis of making judgments and decisions, our blueprint for building our lives, and our appeal in times of controversy. "Thus saith the Lord" is ever our answer and is never out of step with the times or the lives of the saints. We stand on solid ground when we can rightly and accurately preface our remarks and responses with "The Bible says..."
In conclusion then, what can we do to help people to perceive the truth about the church of Christ? We can continually encourage them to "come and see" for themselves (Jno. 1: 46). We can insist that they examine what we do and teach by the New Testament. We can show them by our conduct what it means to be a saint. We can continue to worship God earnestly "In Spirit and in Truth," and we can continue to serve others in righteousness and true and honorable conduct. We can put God first in our lives and put our faith and trust in Him.
By Gilbert Alexander.
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