By Kevin Rutherford
Did you ever wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and then wonder who that is staring back at you? Time moves so quickly and changes us just as rapidly. We change physically, spiritually, and emotionally as the years go by. Did you ever go to church one Sunday morning, observe what was going on, and then wonder who we are? What is this church? What has the church become? Who are we?
National culture is like a swiftly flowing river. There are ever swirling and changing currents within the culture. Some of those currents become strong and dominant while others weaken and vanish. Our national culture has within it currents caused by the emptying of moral sewage into the flow. Some of those polluted currents have become dominant and are growing stronger. Unfortunately those immoral currents in culture often affect the church. This should not be the case. The church is to affect the culture (1 Peter 2:9-12). The culture is not to affect the church (1 John 2:15-17).
While it is true that we should be willing to fit in with our culture in hopes of saving those who are a part of that culture, we must never do so at the expense of truth (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 11:1-16; Ephesians 5:11; Acts 5:29). If we compromise the truth for the sake of the latest trends, fads, and fashions, we will lose our influence and become good for nothing (Matthew 5:13).
So, who are we? When you look at some congregations of the Lord’s church, you see that they have been greatly influenced by the religious and moral culture of our country. These congregations have begun justifying immorality in their doctrine, while turning to entertainment in their worship. Examining such congregations makes one realize that rapidly passing time and the ever swirling currents of culture have had disastrous effects upon the church. These currents of cultural change have eroded the integrity of the church much like a swollen river might erode the soil on the river bank. Those congregations have truly changed. In fact they have left behind the old paths and have compromised the word of God (Jeremiah 6:16). Perhaps God Himself no longer recognizes them (Revelation 2 & 3).
Who should we be? We must be the Lord’s church. We can only be the true church of Christ if we follow the Law given to us by Christ (John 12:48). The form, stamp, or pattern which produces the church was preached in the first century (Romans 6:17). The same church was produced everywhere that same form was preached in the first century (1 Corinthians 4:17). That pattern is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul told Timothy to hold fast to (2 Timothy 1:13). It is the faith which Jude commanded Christians to earnestly contend for (Jude 3). It is the same seed of the kingdom that produced the church of Jesus Christ in the first century and will produce the same in the twenty-first century (Luke 8:11).
We must continually examine ourselves to make sure that we are following the Faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). To remain the true church of Christ, we must resist the cultural trends that are eroding the soil of truth, integrity, and morality.
- Kevin Rutherford preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/