The Church

The Church: Hope or Hoax

By the Rev. R. E. Knodel, Jr.

How does “the church” compare to man’s great endeavors? When we think of these things, many wild-eyed schemes jump to the fore. Marxist socialism killed over 100-million people in the Twentieth Century – all in the name of creating an ideal society. Almost every group holding meetings has high hopes of producing the product that will fulfill people’s thirst for happiness.

When we think of this generic thirst, we can ask how “the church” compares to other similar endeavors. Does the church invite innocent people to “drink the kool-aid” of fakery; or is its product genuine and satisfying?

As an older pastor, I’ve seen all kinds of fakery. Hoaxes and hyped-up promises bother me in an elemental way. Both my parents were very sincere, honest people – and I thank God for them – inasmuch as they created in me a hatred of fraud. It drives me crazy to look out at history and repetitively see people following rabbit trails. To build things up – only to see them collapse. I hate the vanity of wasted effort!

This has colored almost my every effort at building churches. It’s easy to get people to follow a guru; but it’s exceedingly difficult to raise up something good – that will really bless people’s lives and last. A conflation of Jeremiah 5:31c declares, “The prophets prophesy falsely … and my people love it to be so!”

In such a dangerous world, I would testify that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ has done exceedingly well. “Yes!” we can see how fakery threatens the church. Generic man is a faker and a fraud, so when he turns his attentions to building societies – we must be on the alert. But of all the men who have created these, Jesus Christ was uniquely sincere! And he left us, in his written word (the Bible!), a powerful deposit of truth – to guide us in our construction projects.

I’ve been a member of all sorts of these societies. The best of them have been political parties and golf clubs. But when I compare these to what I’ve found in the organized church of Christ – particularly the “Reformed” Church of Christ – they don’t even compare.

Even the Reformed church has its problems. It’s made up of problematic, fallen people! But its people have also been redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb,” and everyone involved has tried to become more sanctified and more loving.

In Christ’s Church, I’ve seen people sacrifice for each other. Very different people, personality-wise, have struggled to minister and love each other! They’ve held their tongues and repressed first thoughts – as they listened to each other to really understand what their neighbors were saying! They’ve really been motivated by Jesus to see the best in each other. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 gives us an insight into how this happens. The Apostle Paul says, “Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh … If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!”

Jesus offers us totally new hopes! Unlike the secular humanism of Marxist Socialism (or evolutionary science, etc.) – we wouldn’t dream of killing people or forcing them to do anything – in order to bring about a new utopia! Nowhere does the Bible give us that warrant. In Christ, through his redemption, all of us can become better people. When we then join together, we offer mankind the best possible option for doing better together – as a holy society!

Ephesians 1:22 puts it most gloriously: “And He (the Father) put all things under his (the Son’s) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church – which is his body – the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” This is a fantastic promise – well worth the investment of a lifetime! We need to join each other, in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, to obtain the fullness of this hope!

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