Some Time We'll Understand
A wonderful sentiment is expressed in a well-known hymn of the same title as this article:
"Not now, but in the coming years, It may be in a better land,
We'll read the meaning of our tears, And there, sometime, we'll understand."
The thoughts contained in this verse are consoling and comforting to tired and aching hearts. Sincere and honest brethren have been amazed untold times by wild and unfounded charges and wild misrepresentations by those with whom they had disagreed. It truly seems that we must wait until "the better land" to understand some of these things. When men disappoint, when brethren turn aside into apostasy, when untruths are continually circulated, when soft preaching holds sway, when pride and arrogance are given places of prominence, when we feel certain that brethren can see and yet continue in error, surely we are made to wonder where it all will end. I am not (in my own opinion at least) a pessimist. So far as I know, I have never been so accused. But indifference, false pride, position-seekers, and the overwhelming desire on the part of so many to be "men pleasers," is cause enough to be concerned. The following excerpts from recent writings amply demonstrate both the "trends-of-the-times" and cause for real concern.
In the July 3 issue of the Firm Foundation, the entire paper was given over to the "MAN or PLAN" theme. Let it be said to his credit that brother Reuel Lemmons has done a good job in exposing this weak-kneed contention that has become so wide-spread among younger preachers and liberal minded brethren. But the thought on my heart as I read these articles was, "Why is It necessary to have to prove to some that when you preach Christ, you preach a plan?" What are these boys being taught in "our schools"? Brother Frank Lilly pointed out the reason clearly in his article, "Just Trust; No Need To Obey." He wrote:
"During the A.C.C. Lectureship I attended a class being taught by a man who was endeavoring to show the relationship between Christianity and psychology.
In his class he exhorted preachers to preach more about Christ, his goodness and greatness, and less doctrine. He said, 'It is far more important to emphasize the man, than it is the plan.'
He also said he could attend a sectarian meeting and join right hand and fellowship them in their singing with their instrumental music, and still not endorse them in what they were doing. I asked him how he could fellowship a thing and still not endorse it. He did not answer."
Brother Lilly's entire article is fine. If such men as described here are not seeking to please men, then perhaps "Sometime, somewhere, we'll understand."
Then brother Cleon Lyles had an article in which the following choice morsel was used:
"Keep skid chains on your tongue; always say less than you think; cultivate a low persuasive voice. Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what it costs you. Praise good work done, regardless of who did it. If criticism is merited, criticize helpfully, never spitefully. PRESERVE AN OPEN MIND ON ALL DEBATABLE QUESTIONS. (Emp. mine, LJS) Discuss but don't argue. It is a mark of superior minds to disagree and yet be friendly." (Reminder, July 12, 1982)
There is some good teaching in this article that all, including brother Lyles, would do well to practice, especially that which is emphasized. But brother Lyles, seemingly, has to continually remind his readers that both he and they have "superior minds." Anyone who disagrees with him is a low-grade imbecile and in his words are "sullen and unfriendly." I have personally known many men who disagreed with Clean Lyles, and found them to be jolly, pleasant fellows. Could it be that one's disposition could becloud his vision? Could it be that some need to clean their own glasses? Why can't we persuade those with "superior minds" to defend their practices in open, honorable discussion? Sometime, we'll Understand!
In the Contender of July 1, 1982, this quotation appeared from the Arlington, California, church bulletin:
"POLICY — A definite effort to sharpen our worship services is now under way. For example, sermons are only twenty minutes short on Sunday night. The building is also air conditioned."
Is not this policy a direct result of desiring to please men? I know that the Bible doesn't say how long a sermon must be — in fact, some may have the mistaken idea that longevity is proof of soundness. But my contention is, Why should men set the time limit on preaching when salvation of lost souls is at stake? Is not all this emphasis on brevity of sermons and bodily comfort a freshly appeal? Is not this twenty minute limit an appeal to the worldly-minded, an attempt to be pleasing unto men? What are brethren thinking? "Sometime we'll understand."
After doing a superb job the week before on the "MAN or PLAN" theme, brother Lemmons, in his July 10 editorial was pushing the "Manhattan project...in terms of $358,000 to GO!! The interesting (and depressing) thing about this editorial were the reasons (?) given for pushing the project.
"A million dollar, multi-storied church building on one of the busiest corners of Manhattan Island with a neon sign on top of it that could be seen almost the length of the island would be worth a million dollars in advertising value alone. It would be a lot easier to get missionaries in Pakistan if emissaries of Pakistan's State Department got thoroughly familiar with the sight of a million dollar church building in the heart of New York City owned by our brethren.
There you have it. Pride! No concern for the scriptural business connected with the project — just concern about what men think. Is it little wonder that with such reasoning (?) many are confused? Never, anywhere, have I seen a more fleshly appeal than this one. "Sometime we'll understand!"
These things make it all the more imperative that we heed the admonition of Paul — "Therefore let no man glory in men." (1 Cor. 3:21) Let me appeal to brethren everywhere to THINK. Study and meditate on the WORD. Be guided thereby. Be not a blind follower of the blind! May God have mercy on his erring children! The last verse of the hymn closes significantly: "God knows the way, He holds the key, He guides us with unerring hand; Sometime with tearless eyes we'll see; Yes, there, up there, we'll understand."
— 6900 Gingerbread Lane, Little Rock, Ark.