7 Jun 2006

Understanding the Times

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Church, Church History, Kingdom, Ministry, Mission

Understanding the Time(s)

One historian recently wrote that we, in the Churches of Christ, are “an argumentative bunch.” That is an apt description of what has made us, as a people of God, tick. We have argued! We have argued with Baptists. We have fought the Methodists. And we have wrestled with the Catholics. We have argued with each other over virtually everything under the sun from versions, orphan homes, autonomy to Zionism.

There was a a time when arguing was, perhaps, not such a vile thing. Most of the folks looked like us, talked like us, and lived like us. They believed in God, Christ, the Bible, and basically had the same white, middle class, value system. In that kind of environment it was easy to focus on minor areas of disagreement, which typically had little (or no) impact on actual Christian living. It was only by focusing on these matters of minutiae that we were able to make ourselves “distinct.” So we argued. And we became experts on the forensic platform.

But if September 11, 2001, has not done anything else it has done this: It has taught me that I need to understand the times! Just in case we have missed it by our arguing — September 11 told us the world has radically changed. It has been changing all along . . . but we simply were unaware. Our eyes were wide shut!

Our world was wracked by massive social upheaval in the civil rights movement. It had witnessed numerous political assassinations. The powder keg of Vietnam left many in a moral daze. A president resigned . . . Yes our world was in deperate need of a Word from God and so we debated the Herald of Truth, fought the election of JFK, slandered King as a communist. We published tomes on the “Dangers of Modern Versions” and largely became irrelevant to the lives of people living now. We did not address the issues of living now.

But 9/11 has shown us we no longer have the luxury of arguing. We have not had that luxury for a long time. We as Christians must lay aside petty issues and focus on the real issues confronting this world in its absolute chaos.

Today in the United States there are more Muslims than members of the Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church combined. Today those around us are asking serious, and even frightening, questions that we must be prepared to answer. There are issues faced by teens today that most adults can not imagine. It is time for us to understand the times. It is time for us to reject the wiles of Satan who would distract us from being the real salt of the Earth. It is time I realize that most folks do not share a biblical value system. It is time I realize that the Baptists or Christian Church, despite our differences, in light of the horrible evil of 9/11, are hardly my enemy. The world left “Leave It to Beaver” in the 1950s, that world does not exist (if it ever did). It is time for us to enter the real world of the 21st century and do battle with the real Enemy.

Until we understand the times we will be ineffective in ministry to the world. September 11 was our wake-up call. Are we still sleeping? Do we have a word from God for today?

Shalom,
Stoned-Campbell Disciple

12 Responses to “Understanding the Times”

  1. Stoogelover Says:

    In my opinion, this is the best post I’ve read from you. Not that the others have not been good, it’s just that I came away from a discussion with one of my elders tonight where he had to “argue” with some members who are very upset over more of the minutiae all the while missing the larger picture of being Christ to others.

    Thanks for a timely reminder!

  2. Bill Says:

    They depth of my appreciation for this post cannot be expressed in words! In order to write such a post one must have an understanding of the times in which we are living, which you clearly do. God bless you, brother. And, thanks1

  3. Anonymous Says:

    I think this is the greatest burden of our heritage. By looking ‘back’ to find our identity, we have become lost in a historical maze. We have forgot our God works in history, all of it, not just stopping when the NT was complete.

    The God who start scripture in creation mode is still promising to ‘make all things new’ in Revelation, a book that mostly looks forward. Somehow , someway, we must change our mindset expecting to see God and meet his people at work every day of our lives…

    John Randy Royse

  4. Carisse Says:

    If our God works in history, then God works in our history, and we do well to reflect on it as a basis for trust in God’s mercy and providence.

  5. Ken Says:

    Good post. I think argument and debate were and are part of what defines the Movement. In the mind of many dropping that means dropping your identity.

    It strange to think but in this day and age most coC members probably have more in common with the Pope than their neighbors.

  6. preacherman Says:

    I totally agree with your post. I took a sabatical from ministery a couple of years ago…Doing sole searching, looking at the church of Christ from out side ministry with an open mind. I was also tired of full time ministry and church polotics,elders not doing their roles. If I was to minister effectively I wanted to see what needed to change. What I saw we that while we are fighting over worshp style, should we have praise team or not, should we have instruments or not, what version is right, what should we call our selves on the sign, who we should fellowship with, and on and on. While we are fight over all these…the world is dying. The devil is trying to get us to loose our focus. If we can take our attention off the lost, then the devil has done his job. The church of Christ needs to understand we have to redefine ourselves as a relative church. A church of Grace, love and mercy. A church of acceptance and forgiveness. A church where people can find healing instead of conflict. A church for the 21st century instead of the church of the 1st century.

    Sorry my comments were so long.
    But man I agree with you totally.
    Excellent post. Keep up the great work.

  7. preacherman Says:

    Bobby,

    I loved your post so much, I went back to my blog and posted a link to your post. I also asked a bunch of question that your blog made me think about. Feel free to check out my blog for comments and considerations.
    Thanks again for your wonderful insights today.

  8. Jim Martin Says:

    Bobby,
    A very good post and well thought out. Thanks!

  9. Falantedios Says:

    Thank you for sharing these thoughts and challenges with us. This is an extremely ‘timely’ message. I hate to be the sole voice of critique, bbecause I do think that we must recognize God’s action in history. However, if we are to honor God thus, then it is not ‘argument’ that we must reject, but rather ‘misreading the times’. The prophets argued long and loud. Jesus argued against the leaders of his day. Paul might have been the greatest debater in history. The ECF argued through hundreds of parchments and many issues for which we (ESPECIALLY we in the S-CRM where most of our brethren live quite happily pretending the Fathers never existed) owe an incalculable debt.

    I know argument has been sorely abused among us. I know it is not always an appropriate argument, and maybe our brotherhood could afford to fast from all argument for, say, five years. But even that isn’t a wholesale rejection of argument as a method of truth-seeking.

    in HIS love,
    Nick

    P.S. – Do we have a word? We (as a brotherhood) are still here despite our failures and abuses, which shows the sheer depth and abundance of God’s grace. God will give us a word, as we need it and as we seek it. To expect more is to ask for tomorrow’s bread.

  10. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Nick,

    Perhaps “argue” is not the best word. Jesus, the Prophets and Paul certainly debated and critiqued. But their debates were not petty issues. They addressed the issues of living (especially the prophets).

    I know you and I do not really disagree here so I thank you for helping me make my words more precise. I do struggle as a wordsmith.

    Thanks for coming by . . . and I hope to see you at the Preacher’s Retreat in September. It will be here before you know it.

  11. Ancient Wanderer Says:

    I have learned the secret to Blogging it is- questions are more desired than answers.

    So in that spirit:

    What are the real issues?

    Did any group have the answers to the ’60s?

    What exactly about “the times” do I need to know that I didn’t know or couldn’t know before 911?

    Has anyone ever heard of Pearl Harbor or the destruction of Jerusalem or “Rachel weeping for her children”?

    By-the-by I> don’t have a favorite version; mourned King’s passing (I was actually alive when it happened); served during Vietnam; still don’t know what the stink about Watergate is; know JFK was also as unpopular as Bush because of ‘his’ war; and know who my only enemy is- those who are not “for” Christ or those who “scatter” at least that is what Jesus said in John 17; and know that Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, Muslims are all peas in the same pod. But forget that.

    Who do you think the real Enemy is?

  12. L.E.Meredith Says:

    Very good blog, another blog I recommend I just read for the first time on your comments section is (Ancient Wanderer) you might enjoy reading it I sure did.

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