The Identity Of the Church Of Christ

Conforming to Conformity

In 1 Samuel 8:5, the people came to Samuel and asked for a King so that they could “become like the nations around them.” From our point of view, we recognize that demand was a big mistake and one of the factors in Israel’s downfall and subsequent rejection by God. The point of our lesson being offered is seeing that conformity with others is not always conformity with God’s ways.

We see much the same thing today in our world in many churches of Christ. We know that many times, members of churches work very hard to conform to the image that is customary or traditional and recognized to be acceptable to others in the church of Christ. Christians are supposed to “be conformed to the image of God’s Son” (Romans 8:29), but most appear to be conformed to the image that is expected of them by others.

Often, it appears that we are prisoners of our own traditions. Not that our traditions are wrong or unnecessary, but in the fact that we limit our possibilities out of fear of what others might think. Let us look at an example and see what we are talking about. Keep in mind that we do all things by faith, and for many of us, our faith has placed a limitation upon what we feel we can do. Sadly, when others are not withheld by the same limitations, we seem to look down upon them and label them in a sort of derogatory manner.

Consider this example (fictional of course, but similar to something actual).

Bro. Jones of a neighboring congregation comes to visit at our gospel meeting. He is asked to lead the opening prayer. When the time comes, he goes to the front, lifts up both hands and addresses God in prayer. But, what he says is never considered.

This does not conform to the way OUR members pray, so we assume that Bro. Jones has gone liberal, progressive, denominational, or whatever sort of weird we can think of. Has he done anything wrong? Does the posture of the person praying matter? Did He say anything in a wrong manner or attitude?

If Bro. Jones had done this to SPARK a reaction, or because he imitates something he saw on TV, or just wanted to SHOW-OFF, bro. Jones would have been wrong, and rightfully should receive a reprimand. But if Bro Jones was sincere in his action, and our congregation belittled him for his posture, our congregation needs the reprimand.

Following the advise of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 we should “prove all things”(KJV) or “examine everything carefully”(NASB) or “test all things”(NIV). Before we condemn something, we must examine the scripturalness of such. And if we cannot prove it wrong, be willing to accept it, even though WE have never done it that way.

Let us not be so quick to condemn anyone or anything we see that is different from the way we do things. But let us maintain the Berean spirit and search the scriptures daily on these matters. Let us not be confined to our traditions, but seek a deeper relationship with Christ and His followers through intensive Bible searching and attuning our hearts to seek the better good of all saints. Watch next month for another example. May God continue to bless you as you study His word.

By Carey Scott

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