Speaking the Truth in Love

lightstock_60082_small_tim_450x450The Seagoville Church of Christ is a congregation of believers saved by the lavish grace of God. It is our aim to imitate the church of New Testament times. This goal implies our determination to respect the Bible as God’s Word, confess Jesus as God’s unique Son, worship according to the pattern of scripture, and live everyday lives transformed by Christ’s example and redeemed by his blood. The familiar New Testament descriptions of God’s people help us identify our mission.

In the four Gospels and Acts, the word “disciple” appears repeatedly. A disciple follows his teacher. We want to follow Jesus. He loved and obeyed the Father. He sacrificed himself for others. He spoke the truth in love. He hated sin but loved sinners. He showed compassion to the sick, bereaved, and needy. He cherished men, women, and children.

We don’t pretend to follow Jesus perfectly. We have much to learn. But we fully agree with the apostle John when he writes: “He who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:6).

In the New Testament epistles, God’s people are often called “saints.” The Greek expression is literally “the holy ones.” Holiness isn’t behaving in a self-important, holier-than-thou way. Quite the opposite. People truly holy or set apart by God have a humble spirit. They understand that the Lord has called them to live in the world but to refuse any worldly values or priorities that contradict God’s revealed will. The apostle Peter says, “I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul” (1 Pet. 1:11).

This is no easy thing to do. Wading against the stream of popular opinion can be frustrating and distressing. But the saints are never alone in their struggle to reflect divine character. They are “chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified [made holy] by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Pet. 1:2).

In Antioch of Syria “the disciples were for the first time called Christians” (Acts 11:26). Christian is a fascinating name. “Christ” is Greek (the everyday language of the Roman Empire), but it translates “messiah” in Hebrew (the language of the Jewish people). And the “ian” ending derives from Latin (the official language of the Romans). A Christian belongs to Christ. And the name Christian is for all. The church isn’t an ethnic sect.

As New Testament Christians, we feel distressed by all the division in the religious community. Paul says, “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). This is our appeal too. We invite everyone to close their church manuals and catechisms and open their hearts to the teachings of Jesus and his apostles and prophets.

The word “church” means “assembly.” God’s people assemble every week to worship him and enjoy fellowship with each other. The New Testament writers use expressions such as “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16), “the church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2), and “the churches of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 2:14). These descriptions emphasize Christ’s proper place. It is his church. He has all authority (Matt. 28:18). He is the church’s “head” (Col. 1:18). This is why the churches of Christ have no headquarters on earth. Our Head is in heaven, seated in the place of greatest honor at the right hand of God. This is why we have no conventions where delegates vote on church policy or doctrine. We have no such right. Our Lord has already spoken.

Jesus says that “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matt. 12:50). In his letters Paul repeatedly addresses his readers as “brothers.” The multiple occurrences of “one another” in the New Testament help us know how to treat each other. We must encourage and comfort one another, confess our sins to one another, pray for one another, live in harmony with one another, serve one another, show hospitality to one another, forgive one another. Christ says, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Share This