A Man With A Problem

Dan Shipley

A man with a problem is a Christian who "comes to himself" as the member of the church caught up in unscriptural practices. He sees now that he has become an expert in rationalism and dodging issues. For instance, when the controversy arose over church support of human institutions, he really didn't make any serious objective study of the question. What others told him had been good enough. Anyway, who wants to be called an "anti"? So he went along.

Later he became involved in the popular bus-ministry program. From the start, he felt that if transportation was a problem, then busses were a waste of the Lord's money because members could provide that with their own cars. But, since so many were for it, he went along. However he had second thoughts when he saw that children were being "bribed" with refreshments and prizes to ride the busses. Later, he saw how convenient it was to use the busses for transporting members, especially the youth, to social activities. "Is this the work of the church?" he wondered, but never asked. Then came the "Fellowship-Hall." While he knew of other members who were not for it, some of the more outspoken brethren really pushed for it. No one objected much, so why should he? Initially its use was mostly limited to potlucks and "fellowship meals." However, since some could not see the difference between these and other social activities (neither could he) it was soon being used for quilting parties, youth parties, bridal and baby showers, wedding receptions and the like. Now most of his brethren automatically think of fun and games and eating when they hear the word "fellowship." His conscience gives him no rest. His contributions have helped to build and maintain something that is no part of the work of the church. The Lord's money is now used to provide for recreation and social activities and HE KNOWS THERE IS NO BIBLE AUTHORITY FOR SUCH!

A friend tells him not to worry because it's the elders who are responsible if things are wrong in the church. He knows better. He knows that elders cannot make laws and that they must function within God's laws. All shall give account personally (2 Cor 5:10) because all have an obligation to uphold truth. What if the elders decided to omit the Lord's Supper? Would we be so bound to follow them -- or God? Every elder and every member is a partner (has a share) in what the local church does. That is what scriptural fellowship means. How then can the individual as a joint partaker be right when the collective (church) activity is wrong? For the man who wants to be sure of being right with God, that is a problem that cannot be ignored!

The honest man sees he is wrong. What does he do? For sure, he ceases to be honest or he ceases to be wrong. His friends, or even his family may not appreciate his conviction. They may resent them. Staying with the "synagogue" may mean leaving the Lord (John 12:43). We pray for the man with this problem; that he will have the courage to resist compromise and stand for his convictions. If not, he has a worse problem.