Bro. Joe Barnett wrote a great little booklet on the nature of the churches of Christ titled, “Who are these people?”
I had a call from a neighbor many years ago who wanted to know what special program our church was having on Christmas Eve. He was shocked when I told him “none.” He was genuinely curious when he asked, “Why not? Everybody else is!”
For those coming from a denomination to begin to understand churches of Christ , they must sooner or later frame this question in their mind, “Why and how are you different?” It’s both a natural and necessary question. It’s the way we discover information about any topic. We compare and evaluate differences and similarities in order to understand things.
The short answer to his question is the same as the answer to many other questions:
“Why do you (churches of Christ) not baptize infants and yet teach that baptism is required in order to be saved?”
“Why don’t you have pastors?”
“Why do you not use musical instruments in worship?”
“Why have communion every week?”
The answer to each of these questions is, “because of what the Bible teaches” about those subjects.
Changes in the early church began when people started making decisions about religious beliefs or practices that were different from what the Bible teaches. They added things that the Bible did not include. They excluded things that the Bible required. Soon they were very different from the Bible and from those who made different choices.
Leave the sugar out of the chocolate fudge recipe from a friend, or maybe substitute flour instead. When they taste it, are disgusted and insist you didn’t follow their recipe, tell them “it really doesn’t matter if you add things in or leave things out. All that matters is what one believes or feels would be good.” They’ll look at you like you have lost your mind and may even tell you so!
Well, God has a “recipe” for His church and it’s in the Bible. Leaving things out that God put in or putting stuff in that God left out means one is not following the same recipe as God. Jesus did not say, “If you love me, do whatever you want in the name of your religious desires.” He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15).
- Tim Orbison