Disunity is an earmark of denominationalism that is apparent for anyone who is even halfway observant. The term denominationalism means, at its base, division! It has produced, and it nurtures, blatant division among most of those who call themselves Christian. All of the different denominations have their own names, their own doctrines, their own plans of salvation, their own systems of church structure and government and their own individualized worship. The non-Christian world can easily be left in a state of confusion, not knowing which brand of Christianity to believe and follow.
Last week’s bulletin article “Christian Unity?” discussed the unity that is supposed to prevail among all of those who claim to follow Christ. Jesus prayed that all of His followers would be as united as are He and the Heavenly Father (Jn. 17:20-21). Denominationalism, however, has produced exactly the opposite of what Jesus prayed for. The fundamental concept of denominationalism is division, and division is exactly what it has produced within the realm of what is called “Christendom.”
In Jn. 17:20-21 Jesus prayed that all of His followers would be “one,” that is united. But the unity for which Jesus prayed was not some loose amalgamation. It was not a high sounding agreement to disagree agreeably. He prayed, “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
On the night of His betrayal Jesus told the apostles, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35). This was not a suggestion from the Lord to the apostles. He was not just expressing a good idea. Nor was He simply giving some good advice. He characterized this instruction as a “commandment.”
Last Sunday was a momentous day for the Sunny Slope church of Christ. Five men- Travis Horton, North Witcher, Mark Grimes, Dwayne Kennedy and Gary Hutchens- were appointed as the first elders in the history of the congregation.
Just how important is it to be at services when the church meets? The beginning of a new year is an especially good time to consider this question. As Christians, we need to always be examining ourselves to make sure that our lives reflect true faithfulness (2 Cor. 13:5). But many people are reflecting on their lives more seriously right now than they normally would do.
This is the first Sunday of another new year. This is the thirty-eighth bulletin article that I have written marking the beginning of a new year, thirteen of them with this congregation. I have had the privilege of writing four articles marking the beginning of new decades and the most unique experience of writing one that marked a three fold new beginning: a new year, a new decade and a new millennium.
We’re in the midst of what is commonly called the Holiday Season. Personally, I like the holidays. I’m not crazy about the extreme commercialization that has progressively developed around them, but I like the holidays themselves. People seem to refocus, somewhat, and reflect more on their spiritual lives than they normally do during most of the rest of the year. That’s a good thing!
In a few days, multitudes of people in this country and around the world will supposedly celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Many will attend some kind of special church service in His honor. Others will simply feel special feelings about the Savior as they go about the day. Specific references to the birth of Christ will be uttered in prayers by some. A large number of people will get drunk!
We find the phrase “sound doctrine” used several times in the New Testament (1 Tim. 1:8-11; 2 Tim. 4:3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1). The word doctrine simply means “teaching.” To qualify doctrine as being sound would identify it as being truthful, accurate, reliable, trustworthy. As applied to biblical teaching, sound doctrine would be teaching that accurately communicates God’s will by staying true to His word.
Gary L. Hutchens