Would it be all right with you if I point out something about us that remains in great need? If I do, would you understand how much I love being us? Would you understand without us I would have been lost? Do you get it that 34+ years in one congregation does not reflect impatience with us or with myself?
Good. We simply have much work to do.
Would you mind, therefore, if I point out a couple of places that need major work if we are going to claim to be the church Jesus is building?
First, there is a great chasm from where we are and where we should be regarding the absolute adoration and worship of God. Emphasis has been on attendance, protocol, and silence of scripture. It has not and still is not---I speak in general terms of the conglomerate Churches of Christ---the urgency upon the lips of us to give glory to our God unless it somehow shows up in the words of a song.
We are surely more prone to speak of a sports team, a world catastrophe, or our grandchildren over offering loving praise of Father in the midst of any casual gathering. In general, we are praisers of God from 11:00 to noon on Sunday.
Second and in general, we are still shy in our own communities. While we do make intentional effort to contribute to a drive or fund-raiser, the majority of our people are afraid to carry on a meaningful conversation with a stranger needing the attention of Father. True, we have worked on greeting others, but our willingness to truly meet those we don't know seemingly will not budge.
If we are to be like Jesus, surely one of those strong traits is the interaction with strangers regarding kingdom matters. Small talk is our agenda, but not Jesus'. He would start with the small talk of course, give me a drink of water. Yet, his thought was always of drawing strangers toward the kingdom of God.
I know the enormous fear of loving others by carrying on interactive communication with those not yet my friends. I wasn't just afraid; I could not do it. Yet, I had to learn. The church has not felt the need to have to learn. Our volunteerism has excused us from restoring the church to the outreach/neighborly connection Jesus walked.
In essence, the Church of Christ has failed in the two most pronounced doctrinal matters to the heart of Father: (1) love God, and (2) love your neighbor as yourself.
I speak not disparagingly nor hopelessly. I speak to any, though, who yet pride themselves in being a part of the true church now completely restored. We aren't yet.