Perhaps there isn’t any greater religious hubris than the Christian who thinks himself, his church, and the fellowship of churches that his church is affiliated with to be the only Christians. Yet this sectarian mindset is the thinking of some, perhaps many, in the fellowship known as the Churches of Christ.
But it certainly is not the thinking of every Church of Christ and thankfully so!
On the Christian Chronicle is an article titled “How Then Should We Interact?” The article discusses how some Churches of Christ are interacting with other local churches for the sake of God’s glory and mission. Of course there are still other Churches of Christ and members of the Churches of Christ who wish to remain in isolation, having nothing to do with other churches. But I am so glad that this sectarianism is dying among us, even if it is a slow process. Let it die!
Reading through the article and the comments by those among the Churches of Christ who are opposed to any interaction with other churches, I sense that the main reason for such opposition is a belief that we who call ourselves the Churches of Christ already know the complete truth of God’s word. This “we have all the truth” mentality is the root of this sectarian hubris. Not one church knows it all… not any Church of Christ nor any other church. We all know something, but not everything.
For this reason, let me clearly say that if you are a member of a Church of Christ, you have everything to gain from interacting with Christians from other churches. If you are a minister of a Church of Christ, you have everything to gain from interacting with other ministers from other churches. Just last week I attended a lunch with about fifteen other ministers from churches in Columbia and besides eating, we spent time praying and listening to a Messianic Jew share with us how he became a follower of Jesus and how we might win other Jewish people to faith in Jesus the Messiah. This week I am attending a D.Min class at Northern Seminary with ministers from various churches and we are all helping each other learn how we can better lead our own churches as followers of Jesus.
Churches of Christ… the beauty of interacting with other churches is that we need them and they need us. As more and more churches become smaller, as the American culture becomes more and more secular and post-Christian, and as more and more people suffer and grow up as unbelievers… we need them and they need us. As individual Christians, we need fellowship with those other Christians and they need fellowship with us. We never know when we might find ourselves struggling or find one of them struggling. Beyond this, not one of us knows all the truth and we might just teach each other a better understanding of God’s will if with the humility of Jesus, we’ll receive each other as a gift from God.
Some will object, suggesting that any interaction with other churches will just weaken or confuse our understanding of the Christian faith, the Bible, etc… That’s ironic since they don’t have any actual way of knowing that unless they are willing to interact with other Christians. Nevertheless, I am telling you that such a claim is bogus. My understanding of who God is, the life Jesus calls us to follow him in living, the Holy Spirit, doctrines such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and so on, have only become more robust as I learn from Christians of other churches. I am still able to say when I believe they have misunderstood the Bible at some point but I have also seen where I too have misunderstood the Bible. So how about a little more humility so that we may receive God’s blessing of our fellow Christians in those other churches.
May God be glorified as we embrace what Christ has already made every believer… One!