Why Am I Here?
Have you ever stopped to think how odd it must seem to some that I am a member of and a preacher with a church that is missing two of my greatest passions? If you know me, you know that two of my greatest interests in life are food and sports. There are very few foods I won’t eat and the list of foods I love is long. When it comes to sports I thoroughly enjoy football, basketball, and baseball. I love to watch them and will still play them if given the chance (though at my age we have to play half-court basketball and touch football). And if those sports are not on television I have been known to watch soccer, golf, NASCAR, and even a little curling. I derive a lot of pleasure from my food and my sports, yet the Jones Road church of Christ does not have a kitchen in which meals are prepared, nor a dining room (a.k.a. fellowship hall) in which we could eat meals that some would call fellowship dinners. We are also without a gym, a softball field, or any other recreational facilities. Now, why would someone as passionate about food and sports choose to be part of a group in which these are missing? I could list more, but please give careful consideration to these four reasons.
I Am Not Supposed to Be in Charge
Long ago Jeremiah said, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). If I were given the authorization to build a church I might do some things differently, but I understand it’s not my right to choose my own way or set my own course shaped by my own desires. In some strong words of warning, Jesus spoke of some who considered themselves very religious, yet failed to actually do what the Lord commanded. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23). Why are some things I love missing? Because it’s Christ’s church and not mine.
Truth Is More Important Than My Desires
Whatever my desires may be, they must always take a backseat to truth. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). While showing compassion and kindness to a woman many would have despised, Jesus spoke of the importance of truth, and truth is not determined by how passionate I am about something or how much I think it might add to the church. The church of which I am a member doesn’t have some things I might have chosen, but it does have a commitment to truth and that is what God demands of those who worship Him.
The New Testament Reveals What Churches Should Be Like
As the apostles went throughout the world preaching the gospel and making disciples (Mark 16:15, 16; Matthew 28:18-20), they taught these disciples to work together with one another in the different communities in which they lived (Acts 11:19-26; 14:21-23). When we remember that local churches are comprised of disciples who are committed to doing all things the Lord has commanded (Matthew 28:20), it helps us understand how important it is that we look to the word of God for guidance in our collective discipleship. If I want to have my food and sports I need to find it in the New Testament, not my own desires.
Because the Scriptures contain the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37) and provide us with a complete guide (2 Timothy 3:16, 17), I came to realize a long time ago that if I was going to be a true disciple I needed to be part of a church committed to remaining within the constraints of the doctrine of Christ lest I lose my relationship with God. “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
They Are Missing from the New Testament
Once I made a commitment to allowing the Lord to be in charge and committed myself to His truth as revealed in the New Testament, it was not hard to see that a church without a sports and recreation program and without any provisions for common dining was not missing anything that New Testament churches had. At the time the New Testament was being written people were engaged in recreation, and life cannot exist without food, but not once do we read of a first-century group of disciples engaged in recreation or eating social meals as a collective body.
Why are things I am so passionate about missing from the church of which I am a part? They are not a part of this church because I know that if I want to be a disciple of Jesus I must allow His choices to guide me, and His revealed will simply doesn’t include some things I might think important. However, no one should feel sorry for me because He has provided me (and you) with things far more important than food and recreation.
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:2-4)
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).
In light of all that has been given us in Christ, I don’t think I’m missing out on anything—do you?
All quotes from the New King James Version, copyright 1995, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Inc.