Making a Case for Northway Christian Church
Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes
and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. (Luke 14:23)
In Luke 14:23 the master of the house who was putting on the party sent his servants out to “compel” people to come in. The word “compel” here refers to the act of making a convincing argument that will move another person to make an appropriate response, in the case of this story, to persuade them to come into the house. So, what are the convincing arguments that we can make to persuade people to come to Northway? Today I will provide you with my first five reasons, and tomorrow I will conclude with my last five.
- Because we believe in a generous God. Richard Mouw says that this is the first and most important theological decision that any one of us has to make – Do we believe that God is stingy or generous? Is God reluctant to love us and has to be convinced to save us, or is God so in love with us that it takes extraordinary effort on our part to keep Him out of our lives? The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is the church of a generous God because it is a church based on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- Because we are a church that has no creed but Christ and no book but the Bible. I found the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at a moment in my young Christian life when I was being pulled in different directions by well-meaning brothers and sisters who were all insisting that “real” Christians believe this or that. No sooner would one of them tell me that one thing was true, than another one come along and tell me the exact opposite thing was true. It was all very confusing to me. And then a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor sat down and talked with me about how the “what” of doctrine always divides while the “who” of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, our Lord and Savior, always unites. He advised me to be certain of Christ and then to stay just as open as I possibly could about everything else, testing every faith claim and assertion by the teaching of Scripture. This approach – so characteristic of Disciples – has served me well.
- Because we observe open Communion each and every week. Going to the Lord’s Table each Sunday morning keeps me focused on the redemptive purposes of God in Jesus Christ, keeps me anchored to the Gospel experience of grace in Christ, and keeps me oriented to the mission of reconciliation through Christ with which the church has been entrusted and for which the church has been empowered by His indwelling Spirit. Weekly Lord’s Supper keeps the Gospel of Jesus Christ front and center in my own life, and in the life and mission of the whole church. The Disciples are a movement for wholeness in fragmented world. We welcome others to the Lord’s Table just as God in Jesus Christ has welcomed us.
- Because we respect the competency of each soul to do its own believing. Romans 14:4-5 looms rather large in our life of mutual encouragement and accountability as Disciples –
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand. One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind.
In other words, we’ve all got to decide things for ourselves, and we will all have to answer for how we’ve decided them. This is the right of private interpretation and the freedom of conscience distilled into the concrete practice of mutual respect for which we as Disciples have been justly recognized. As Disciples we honor the freedom and responsibility of each believer to “work out their salvation with awe and reverence” (Philippians 2:12). We are not the kind of church that’s going to tell you what to think, but rather we are going to be the kind of church that’s shows you how to “think believingly,” and that then challenges you to get on with it.
- Because we make a “good faith assumption” about one another. Because we are forever deciding things differently as Christians, there is a very real temptation to conclude that those whose conclusions are at variance with our own conclusions on any number of vital matters of faith and practice must be either stupid or wicked. The “good faith assumption” is the glue that holds us together in spite of those differences. When we disagree about something, the “good faith assumption” says that I am going to believe and behave in such a way that shows that I think that you are just as serious about Jesus Christ as I am, and that you are just as committed to knowing and doing what Christ commands as I am. And as Disciples, it is going to the Lord’s Table together each week with people who don’t necessarily think as I think, or believe as I believe, that seals the bond of this resolve for unity in love
Tomorrow I will post the last five reasons I use to make a compelling case for Northway Christian Church in particular, and the Disciples of Christ in general. DBS +