My Thoughts. . .
It is interesting how much the shackles of culture have enslaved us so we cannot enjoy the freedom of truth. Right or wrong, culture has influenced the twenty-first to the first century church more than some wish to admit.
The standard accepted by today’s believers is what they and their relatives have done for the past seventy years or more. According to those individuals, in order for a congregation to be right, it has to be perfect in teaching and practice. That usually translates to, “If we haven’t done it for the last generation or so it isn’t scriptural.” The problem with that view is that today’s membership believes the first century congregations were perfect. The truth is, most of today’s members would not be comfortable in a first century congregation. Why? Their standard of comfort was different from ours.
How can one expect a congregation to be perfect when none have existed? At some point, today’s individual will be forced to accept the fact that his congregation lacks perfection and if he decides to stay with it, he will have to compromise. That compromise will depend upon his comfort zone. How much error will he be content to live with? He will have to swallow some since perfection is impossible to gain or maintain. Some will redefine error as “damnable error” and non-damnable. Their error is in the latter category. Unless you believe and practice as they do, yours is the damnable kind.
The usual standard that a person’s foundation is built on is “comfort.” One person’s idea of “comfort” is different from another’s. If the congregation’s standard is close enough to his, it is acceptable until it moves further than his comfort zone will stretch. Due to our imperfections, this condition exists in all memberships in one degree or another. This is one of the differences between the culture of the twenty-first century church and the first century one.
Few of today’s believers would think “comfortable” as members of the church in Corinth. Yet, despite Corinth’s many errors in doctrine and practice, they were still in fellowship with God the Father. Today’s believers would have a hard time accepting God’s continued fellowship with them. God continued to dwell in the Corinthian body of Christ and inspired their prophets, language speakers, and interpreters (1 Corinthians 12 & 14). There was no such thing as a Corinthian North, South, East, or Westside congregation. Despite Christ calling the Sardis church “dead,” the solution was not given to them to establish a “sound” assembly so the members could be comfortable (Revelation 3:1-6). This is another difference between the twenty-first century church’s culture and the first century one.
Today, believers continue to search for an assembly that makes them comfortable. It is a compromise that most believers drink from. Wouldn’t it be best for us to copy the first century example of having one assembly in each town which is God’s choice rather than what our comfort creates? Wouldn’t it be best to follow the New Testament example by conforming to Jesus’ oneness, rather than being cultural (John 17:20-21)? Nope! Our divisions teach that God’s system never works.