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More than Right: Why I’m a Member of the Church of Christ

I’d like to share with you why I’m a member of the church of Christ.

The Bigger Story

Sometimes when we talk about why we’re a member of the church, we talk about restoring first century Christianity.   We focus on such things as scriptural baptism, Biblical church organization, and acceptable worship.  That’s important and needed, but I wonder if we sometimes miss the bigger story.  Listen, what I’m about to tell you  is a story for the ages, a story  so epic that it will capture your heart and make your soul come alive.  It’s the original Restoration Movement.

It’s a Story of Creation.

In the beginning, before there was anything, there was someone.  This someone is beyond our ability to describe, but I’ll give it a try.  This being is intelligent and good.  He has the will to create, to express himself, and to show love.   For these reasons (and more), he creates the Universe.  He creates the physical world, and out of chaos he brings order and life, the crowning achievement of which is humanity.

It’s About Relationship and Covenant.

Mankind wouldn’t be robots to simply do what was programmed.  They would have the will to choose to have a relationship with their Creator.  They chose poorly.  Chaos resulted.  The relationship with the Creator was damaged, and the Creator was hurt.

Instead of destroying his creative work and starting all over, the Creator decided to mend this relationship himself.  He decided to restore order to the chaos.  The way he did that was to enter into a covenant with his creation.  He would teach them to appreciate the good and to have a relationship with him.

It’s a Love Story.

Finally, his plan would involve him entering the chaotic world, the damaged world, and bringing order back to his creation.  This was a tough choice because it involved sacrifice.  It involved a cross.  That’s Jesus we’re talking about.  So, rather than seeing his creation die, he died for them by sending himself into the creation.   Through his death, he was able to redeem his creation and inject his life giving Spirit into the chaotic world, so that people could be reunited to him and his life giving presence.

It’s a Restoration Story.

This works because not only could he offer a perfect sacrifice, but he could also rise to life, rise from the grave.  He not only paid a price, but he set in motion a force that brings life to death, that brings order to chaos.  Now, people could be united with him in this life, to walk with him, to live with him.  He created a forever people who could have his very life giving energy within them, and live in the power of his forever life.  Not only would these people have the promise of knowing the Creator, but these people would have the privilege of working with him to bring order back to the chaos, to bring love to a hopeless place.  This is about restoration.  This is the restoration movement that you need to know about.

It’s a Restoration Movement.

The church is that group of people who follow that Creator, who follow that risen Savior.  It’s the group of people who follow him in his death and in the power of his resurrection and join him in the work of restoring order to a chaotic place, of restoring love to a hopeless place.  It’s the group of people who want to share the knowledge of a story that shapes the very fabric of our existence, and explains the world in a way that is powerful and life transforming.  That’s why we call it good news.  It’s about rising from the ashes, rising from the lowest possible place, and finding the power that has been there all along, to set the world in the way that it should go, and to find harmony and peace and joy along the way.  That’s why I am a member of the church of Christ.

It’s the Best Story.

And, when you find a story like this, when you find a being like this that captures your mind and heart, then you want to get involved in such a monumental work.  You want to join in and get with his order of things.  So, if it turns out that his revealed order, his plan, his very being is revealed in a book, then you want to get to know that book…not because you want to be the greatest scholar, but because you want to know the Author, and you want to know how to work with him, how to be with him, and how to get done the most important work in the world.  You want to get as close to what he wants as possible, because you trust him.

That’s what his people do, and that’s why I am a member of the church of Christ.   It’s about more than just getting all the facts right. It’s about entering into a relationship, entering into an epic story in which we become right by the grace of God and work together with God to make the creation right with Him.

Let me ask you,  why are you a member of the church?

The Invisible Person

You can’t do what Jesus did until you see what Jesus saw. 

One of my favorite stories about Jesus is how he gave sight to the blind.  This post is the story of how Jesus used coffee to open my eyes.  It might do the same for you. 

Let me paint a picture for you.

You’re in the Fresh Market (fancy grocery store).  It is a visual and olfactory cornucopia.  That is to say…it’s real nice, Verne.  People are in there that look like maybe they drove all the way out from the yacht club.  Some drove in from lesser country clubs, and you can sort of tell which ones those are.  Then, there’s the college students, the ones who are making daddy proud, as they wear “North Face,” tennis skirts, and drive their very own Mercedes.  Then, there’s the people like me who really are shopping above their socio-economic status, but really like premium pork.

Justin's Iphone
Justin’s Iphone

Anyhow, so there I am at the coffee stand…you know, the one where you can get coffee samples.  I was examining the Kona Blend and all the other varieties, and I saw a young woman reach in and refill the one closest to me, the Almond Amaretto.   I thought, “Great, that one is super fresh.  Better get it.”  Then, I realized something.   There was a person behind the counter.   Then,  it hit me.

I had seen the coffee, but not the coffee brewer.  I had missed the person right in front of me.  She was invisible to me. 

So, I spoke to her.  I asked her if she drank coffee…she didn’t, but, that one question lit her up like flipping a switch.   She was a thoughtful person and an excellent coffee brewer, and I am glad that I got to speak to her.  Then, I realized something…Am I the only person who has spoken to her all day?   I think she knew what I had just started to realize:  People didn’t really see her.

How many people are invisible to us?  Brain science tells us that we focus on the things that are important to us.  The things that our brains have said we need to see to survive.

Is it possible that you have missed some really important things, maybe the most important things?

Now, what in the world does this have to do with the gospels? 

Answer:  It has everything to do with them.

Jesus talks about us being judged by the way we treat the least among us.  He says that when you do good things or bad things to the least, you’re really doing it to Jesus.    Somehow he’s there.  His presence is there.

Have you ever known someone who only wanted to focus their energy and enthusiasm the “important people”?  Maybe it was an employee who is super nice to his superiors, but treats his peers and those he manages in a completely different way.  You can think of a student who treats the cool kids with respect, but won’t have anything to do with those on the fringes.  You see it in churches, you see it in rich,  and you see it in poor.  I sometimes see it in me, too.  After all, it took me months to see the person behind the coffee stand.

This brings me to a key point about the gospels.  There are these people in Jesus’ time that didn’t recognize him.  They try to trap Jesus.  They try to trick him into making a stupid mistake.  He, of course, outwits them in ways they couldn’t imagine, but the thing that I keep on thinking about is how these people could be so ignorant, so blind, so foolish that they couldn’t even see Jesus right in front of them.

Oh wait…but I couldn’t see him at the coffee stand. 

But something happened.  I saw the touch of his hand, and I opened my eyes.  I was jarred into the reality of his presence by the simple extending of a hand (yes, to refill the Almond Amaretto…but you get the point).  I didn’t realize it then, but I believe I looked up, and I didn’t just see the coffee brewer lady.  I saw Jesus.  I saw him in a unique, beautiful, valuable, human being.

So, I wrote a post about how you can read the gospels.  We talked about how the best way to read the story of Jesus is to enter the story by doing what Jesus did.

Here’s the thing.  You can’t do what Jesus did until you see what Jesus saw.    So, I ask you,  Have you seen Jesus my Lord?  He’s here in plain view.


Food for thought/Articles on Invisibility:

On the Invisibility of Black Women and Girls For Harriet                      The Invisible Poor Global Policy Forum


More than Cool: The Woodcutter

Max Lucado tells  a great story about life.  It goes something like this,

“Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before—such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person. How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”

The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact that your horse is gone is a curse.”

The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

The story goes on…the horse returns, but not alone.  Turns out a pack of wild horses comes with it.

The people say it’s a great blessing.  The old man says you don’t know what it is.  It may be a blessing or a curse, says the old man.

Well, one day the wood cutter’s only son is breaking one of the horses.  He falls off and is injured.  Same story.  The people say it’s a curse.  The old man says,

 “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

Then, there is a war.  Everyone’s son is drafted into the war, and most all of them are killed.  The wood cutter’s sun isn’t drafted because he is injured.

The villagers come to the man and say that he was right after all, that the injury was a blessing because he got to keep his son alive.

The old man spoke again. “No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

In a way, the old man is right.  He was certainly cool.  Jesus said not to worry, but he also told us WHY we don’t need to worry.  Someone is taking care of us.

The old man said, “No one knows if it’s a blessing or a curse.”

Well, you can know.

You can know that for you, everything will work together for good.  It won’t be a curse.  None of it will be.  It will be a blessing.

It could hurt so much it makes you wake up crying.  But, it still will work together for good for you.  It will be a blessing.

It could be something that puts you on top of the world.  That, too, will be a blessing.  There are contingencies, though.  This truth is not for everyone.  It’s only for those who will receive it.

It all starts with knowing a story.  Truth is you can know a story that gives the world purpose, meaning, and hope to all of the good and the bad things you experience in life.  Not only can you know the story, but you can know the Author.  Not only that, but you can work with him to unfold his Story in your life and in the lives of others.  And, let me tell you when you do that, you’ll know something, too:

You’re a blessing.