By Leonard Lauriault: Religion columnist
I saw a piece of mail recently addressed to “(name withheld to protect the innocent), Owner/Manager, Church of Christi.”
My first thought was along the lines of, “Oooh! I thought Jesus was the owner/manager of the church.” After all, he did tell Peter, “I will build my church (Matthew 16: 18).”
The rock Jesus mentioned was Peter’s statement that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God (Matthew 16: 16). Jesus owns the church because as the Christ (Messiah), he made complete atonement for our sins giving us the privilege of approaching God directly as his children (Ephesians 5: 2, 25-27; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Hebrews 4: 16).
Jesus bought the church with his own blood, but he’s left men in charge to take care of it (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5: 1-4; Hebrews 13: 7, 17).
He hasn’t given them a free rein to change things that are specified under the new covenant he instituted by his death, burial, and resurrection and that was revealed by the Holy Spirit through Peter and the other apostles when the day of Pentecost came (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; 15:1-5; Acts 2: 1-47).
We see from the passage in Acts that Jesus adds to his church those who have obeyed his terms of the new covenant (1 Corinthians 12: 12, 13; Ephesians 1: 22, 23; 4: 4-6; Acts 19: 1-5; Ephesians 1: 13, 14). He has retained authority even regarding who is a part of his church.
Now, you may have thought there was a typographical error in the first sentence of this article — “Church of Christi,” but that’s what the mail piece actually said. I don’t know who Christi is, but regarding salvation, there is no other name than Christ by which we can be saved (Acts 4: 12).
Still, during the ages since the new covenant was instituted, some of the men who were left in charge of the church did not adhere to the original terms of the covenant (Acts 28: 29-31). And now we have a plethora of churches whose name and doctrine do not reflect Jesus’ ownership. This is not good.
Christians are to agree on matters of doctrine — that which is spelled out in scriptures regarding salvation and Christian living (1 Corinthians 1: 10-13; Galatians 1; 6-9). Even in disputable matters (things not specifically forbidden or required), we’re to accept others as, and more importantly because Christ accepted us (Romans 14: 1 – 15: 7). Even those who boastfully claim to be “of Christ” are in the wrong because that boastful attitude also is a cause of division.
We need to work toward setting aside the matters that divide. Begin by comparing everything you’re taught with what the Bible says (you can begin with this article). Yes, that will take considerable effort on your part to compare passages that were not used in the particular lesson/sermon/article to those that were, but isn’t your soul worth that and more?
Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org