Wineskins Archive

February 4, 2014

AfterGlow: Reasoning Together (Sep-Oct 1999)

Filed under: — @ 6:52 pm and

by Phillip Morrison
September – October, 1999

“Come now and let us reason together ….” As a young preacher, I intoned the words like a mantra. They seemed so logical … so compelling … so biblical. As written in Isaiah 1:18 they were all of those things. I was using the right words, but meaning something God never intended.

I was not inviting, I was challenging: Come and let me reason with you … Come and let me tell you why my interpretation of Scripture is right and yours is wrong … Come and let me tell you why my religion is right and yours is wrong. No wonder my “invitation” was routinely ignored.

From the beginning, leaders of the American Restoration sought to unite all Christians. Somewhere along the way, that noble objective became corrupted and, without ever intending it, a new denomination was created. Now, still in the name of unity, we continue to fracture the body of Christ. There is reason to insist that all Christians are in the body of Christ, assuming we have the right understanding of the body, the church. But we have taken a quantum leap beyond that biblical concept in insisting that all Christians are in the Church of Christ. Even that was not enough for many of us, so we insisted that people who would please God must be in the amillennial Church of Christ, or the non-institutional Church of Christ, or the multiple-communion cup Church of Christ, or the pro-Sunday School Church of Christ, or …. We don’t understand all this ourselves; how can we expect others to?

Our Christianity does not depend on holding membership in the right organization, or even on doing right things. It depends on our being in right relationship with Jesus. The soverign God of the universe is surely capable of deciding who is in such relationship without any input from me.

The burly security guard at the Pittsburgh International Airport looked as if he could start at noseguard for the Steelers. He took my cell phone and waved me through the magnetometer. Then, in a gruff voice that seemed to carry through the corridor, he demanded, “Wait a minute! What are you doing with my friend’s telephone?” I was momentarily too stunned to answer. Then his face broke into a grin that lit up the area, and he pointed to the WWJD display on my phone. “You’ve got my friend’s telephone,” he said, obviously pleased. Then he fished in his own pocket for his key ring with its WWJD marking. We smiled, shook hands, and went our separate ways, bonded by relationship with the One who makes us strangers no more.

Is he a Christian? Where does he go to church? What commandments does he obey? What kind of life does he live? I can’t answer any of those questions, important as they are. All I know is that he professes friendship – as I do – with the One who calls us friends (John 15:9-17). God will judge us both with mercy and grace.

A stranger approached me at a service station to ask directions. As we talked about where we live and what we do, when I identified my church relationship, the other man said, “Uh-oh, I hope you’re not one of those people who think you’re the only ones going to heaven and the rest of us are bound for hell!” When I assured him that I had no such indictment to make, he said, “Well, in my part of the country that’s what people like you think!” I said, “Look why don’t we just start over and let me tell you that I’m just a Christian.” He smiled and said, “I can go with that. And, by the way, that’s all I am, just a Christian.”

Can’t we all go with that?Wineskins Magazine

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