|Volume 20 Number 1 January 2018||
Cecil May, Jr.
A “Bible class” in which each participant shares “what this verse means to me” can become an exercise in sharing ignorance rather than a learning experience. Someone must pull together and cite the Bible, correctly understood and applied. Private discussions of ethical and religious differences are worthless until someone points to a biblical principle or passage that speaks to the question at issue.
The principle is well stated by Balaam: “If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the Lord speaks, that will I speak” (Numbers 24:13). However, though Balaam said that just right, he did not want to do it right. He coveted Balak’s riches. He knew that pronouncing a curse the Lord Himself had not pronounced would do him no good, but he kept rationalizing, following Balak along, until he figured out a way to entice Israel to sin and thus bring a curse on themselves.
A religious discussion is not settled until (1) the Bible is correctly cited and (2) the parties to the discussion accept and do what God says.
I Have a Dream
Ronald D. Reeves
Perhaps the above caption and quote will be echoed for many years through the halls of institutions dedicated to preserving God-given freedoms that each of us no doubt have come to cherish as citizens in a free society. In years past, I have listened with rapt attention to the speech that immortalized the above words. As many others, I have strong feelings about such issues, and my passions are certainly stirred in the face of historical abuse of any of our people in our nation and society. As the leader of the civil rights movement during the decade of the 60’s formulated and shared his dream about pertinent issues of the day related to the restoration of a free and balanced society, each of us today, as members of the New Testament church, should formulate and share our dream about the future prosperity of the Lord’s church in our generation.
The time has come, not only here in our local congregation, but in congregations across the land, to face the reality of one’s needs and challenges, and to address them with vigor, while we yet have the time, opportunity, energy and ability to do so. May it be that elderships across the land throughout our beloved brotherhood will not only listen with renewed interest to the voice of the people they serve, but will also covet the wisdom to discern between the array of proposals that may be set before them. May our esteemed leaders in each of our congregations actively lead the people of God in pursuit of worthy spiritual goals that must be addressed if we, the people of God, have valid hope of successfully accomplishing the work of God in our community.
Yes, I have a dream for the people of God. I dream of the day when all of God’s people can worship together because every barrier has been scripturally removed, regardless of the barrier. I dream of the day when servant leaders as elders embrace the congregations they serve rather than crushing their spirit, either by design or accidentally. I dream of the day when memberships respond to quality spiritual leadership by voicing the spirit of Isaiah and therefore say, “Here am I, send me.”
I dream of the day when deacons in every congregation of the people of God are given weighty responsibility to direct and implement specific efforts designed to impact the local community as we together seek to truly fulfill the mission of the church. I dream of the day when elderships across the land so trust the brethren whom they serve that the memberships, including the body of deacons, take much of the burden that elderships typically bear, so that elderships can truly concern themselves about the spiritual welfare and eternal destiny of the souls under their charge. I dream of the day when programs of work are no longer being proposed as the means of motivating the children of God to do the work of children of God, all because we as brethren of the Christ are self-motivated and are already actively using the talent with which we have been blessed.
Yes, I have a dream. I dream of the day when the vibrant spirit of a congregation devoted to genuine and manifold growth is maintained, regardless of the historical success achieved. I dream of the day when conflict resolution is the norm in our congregations rather than the exception. I dream of the day when the spirit of self-denial for the benefit of others will so pervade our spirit that all of our congregations will be known by their caring spirit. I dream of the day when our congregations are all impacting in benevolent work as we work with vigor evangelistically.
I dream of the day when our people will again be known for their Bible knowledge, the ability and the desire to teach anyone at any time. I dream of the day when fellowship among children of God is developed in accordance with the New Testament concept of fellowship. I dream of the day when visitors are so impressed with our quality and scriptural basis for our worship that they can hardly stay away. I dream of the day when the needs of each of the sub-groups in our congregations are addressed without favor of one above another.
I dream of the day when… Yes, I have a dream—and I want you to develop one too! Yet, this is not enough. To have a dream that may never have the hope of fulfillment fosters despair. I truly want more than the despair of an unfulfilled dream. May we daringly, through God-ordained leadership, dare to say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Let us arise and with courage meet the challenges of our generation. Let us with boldness begin to do what we should have been doing long ago. May we truly be men and women of faith. We can afford to be nothing less.