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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN




The Church:  Magnificent or Mundane?!

   I am always amazed by the difference in attitudes and levels of affection and involvement among people who are members of the same church. Over the years I have (on just a few occasions, thank God) been assailed by disgruntled members of the church who, for one reason or the other, were so hardened and bitter in attitude, that all they could do was pour forth a galling attack on everybody in the church — from the elders ("just a bunch of hypocrites") to the preachers ("only in it for what they can get") to the deacons ("just in it for attention") to the song leaders ("sings too fast or too slow. . .too low or too high. . .sings too many new songs or doesn't sing enough new songs") to the members who sit on the pews ("just a bunch of stuck-up people who don't care about anybody except their little clique"). Then, of course, there are members who are not so bitter and riled up but who still hold the church at arm's length. They come in at every service more as a critic than a participant, more ready to see the bad than the good. And then on the same pews are those who love the church and show it by giving sacrificially of time, talent, and treasure. These find it a joy and delight to attend and participate in services/activities as expressed in Psalm 122:1: "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the LORD.' " Ask anyone in this group and they will likely tell you this congregation is the best on earth! Best elders, best preachers, best deacons, best song leaders, best members! What's going on when people can be members of the same church and have such widely varying opinions and approaches? I don't want to deny there are sometimes problems in the church, but more often than not the problems are more inside us than outside us! More in our own attitude than in others' actions. Konrad Adenauer said something every member of Christ's church ought to consider: "We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon." Like the story about the hummingbird and the buzzard that fly over the land — each finds what he looks for. One searches for life and beauty and sweetness, and the other fixates on the dead and rotting arid that which stinks. Each finds what he looks for, and each gorges himself on what he finds.

Be honest – do you find the church Jesus built more mundane than magnificent? Ephesians 2:19-22 was written to real human beings like you and those who sit on the pew beside you in church each Sunday — formerly lost in sin and alienated from God, with zero spiritual status before the Father. Yet in addressing Christians in and around ancient Ephesus, Paul uses superlative terms to describe the dramatic change in their spiritual standing now that they are in Christ and the church — 'fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God ... built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone ... a holy temple in the Lord ... built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." Doesn't sound mundane to me! The truth is that in every congregation there is the mundane and there is the magnificent. The way you feel about the church depends a great deal on what you look for and feed on. Now, are you a spiritual hummingbird, or just an old buzzard?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ