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Are You Honking or Helping?

Somewhere I read the story about a woman driver who was having difficulty  getting her automobile started after it stalled in traffic. The gentleman (if you can call him that) in the car behind her expressed his impatience with her by honking his horn every few seconds. Finally, the lady was worn to a frazzle not only by her own car's refusal to crank but by the crank behind her. She stepped out of her car, walked back to the honker, stuck her face right up in his and said, "I'm having some difficulty getting my car started. If you'll go and see if you can get it started, I'll sit back here and honk your horn for you!" Thirty-five years in the church of Christ has taught me there are many helpers in the church. These are the people who are in it not for what they can get but what they can give. When they signed on with Jesus, they understood He called them to take up the cross, not slouch on a couch or insist on being be pampered on a padded pew. They want to be workers, not shirkers, for the Lord, and they are busy in the Lord's kingdom. They don't come to church to watch — they come to worship and work. They don't come as spectators — they come as participants. They don't come to be served but, like sister Phoebe in Romans 16:1, they prove themselves to be "a servant of the church." And like the little known but beloved Persis (mentioned by the apostle Paul in Romans 16:12), they labor much in the Lord." Thank God for these gospel workers who are busy helping in a thousand ways!

But thirty-five years has also taught me there are not only helpers in the church of the Lord. There are also those who are expert honkers. They can (and often do) spot a flaw in the church from a mile away or from the pew. These self-appointed church inspectors stay busy as elder-evaluators and deacon dissectors. They are song-leader surveyors and sermon scrutinizers. They are loathe to teach a class or preach a sermon or lead a song or serve as an elder. But they know how every class should be taught, how every sermon should be preached, how every song should be sung, how every dollar should be spent, and how every decision should be made. And when they don't like what's going on in front of them, they lay down on the horn and honk. They honk with unjustified criticism and unfounded judgments. They don't plan on doing anything about the problems in or around the church. Rather, from the comfort and safety of a pew, they just sit behind those who are trying to crank a stalled church and honk.

First Corinthians 10:10 warns us that honking just for the sake of honking is not only unhelpful but also unholy and spiritually very unhealthy. We are told not to complain as Old Testament Israelites did in the wilderness — "some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer." No talent is required to sit behind a stalled car (or a stalled church) and honk. What the church desperately needs is not more honkers but more helpers. Get real now — are you helping the church, or just honking?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ