Friendly Fire (Dec 1992)

By Matt Dabbs

by Sandra W. Milholland
December, 1992

8You may be feeling a little angry about what’s happening in Churches of Christ these days. After all, somebody’s tampering with a religious paradigm that we’ve invested our lives in, and it’s a serious matter.

Even if you’re excited about the “winds of change” blowing through our movement, you may also be feeling frustrated, confused, even a little frightened that so many of the “church’s teachings” are being challenged. Perhaps you’ve even felt sad, lonely, helpless . . . generally uneasy about the direction we’re taking. So have I.

Brothers and sisters, I think we’re grieving. All these feelings are a part of healthy grief. The Church of Christ – however we have each perceived it in the past – doesn’t exist quite the same way it used to. It would be unnatural not to grieve, and inconsiderate of us not to allow each other to experience this grief process in our own unique ways.

But grieving has a positive side, and I’m experiencing that, also. Peace, contentment, renewed energy, hope, and something I think we’re struggling with most: the development of a healthy sense of self apart from others.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” And despite my optimism for our future, I’m concerned about what we are standing for as a body of people in transition right now. This moment in history.

The reason I’m concerned about this is because transition – or change – isn’t a dynamic that will eventually end somewhere. Transition is ongoing. And we can’t afford to remain a people who are known for what we don’t believe in. (“Oh, I know you. You’re the folks who don’t believe in [fill in the blank].”)

We’ve had it easy so far, because as we’ve persisted in fighting for what we don’t believe in, we haven’t had to accept responsibility for doing something about what we do believe in. Our message to the world has been vague, almost an afterthought. And most of our physical and emotional energy has been spent bickering among ourselves. We’ve wasted too much valuable time to continue this self-destruction.

Most of us bear the scars of friendly fire, and too many of our children are casualties. The strafing must cease. It’s time to be proactive with one another rather than reactive against one another.

The True Church is not an end in itself. It’s not a static entity that we will happen upon some day, or wrap our feeble minds around once and for all. It’s a living, moving, changing organism, and we fulfill God’s purposes for us as we move with it, not toward it.

Christ gave us a new commandment that’s still new today: Love one another. Why? Because, he said, all men will know who you are – and whose you are – by the way you treat each other. In our good-faith efforts to combat the enemy, let’s not continue to destroy ourselves with our own friendly fire.

God’s voice can be heard in the winds of change that are blowing through his church today. He’s trying to tell his children – one more time – what his will is for us.

Will we be still and listen? Will we be gracious toward one another at long last and glorify his name by our gentle treatment of one another? Will we be patient and longsuffering and allow one another to grieve? Will we be diligent through it all by living as a people who stand for specific things that the world can see and know because of the way we live among them?

Or will his message to us continue to go unnoticed against the roar of our own artillery? God help us.Wineskins Magazine

Sandra W. Milholland

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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