Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 24, 1963

"Let Not The Church Be Charged"

Mack Kercheville

In 1 Timothy 5:16 Paul told Christians to care for their own widows if they could so that the church would be free to "relieve them that are widows indeed." In verse 8 Paul says that he who provides not for his own has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. Preachers ought to stress this point. Many apparently don't know that it is their Christian duty to care for their own family in need, and that if they don't they are worse than infidels. Churches should withdraw fellowship from people who impose their needy relatives upon the church. Churches become partakers in the evil deeds of others when they willingly take over the care of people who should be cared for by their kinfolks. Where there are not relatives to care for the poor saints then the churches ought to be glad to help. But where there are relatives who can do it, let not the church be charged!

Neither should the church be charged with caring for all the needy of the world. The church is not a glorified Red Cross. It has a more important mission. Poverty was rampant in the first century, but the church of that time did not try to meet any of those needs except among the church's own members. You try to find the text authorizing the church to take care of the needy of the world. Try to find an example of such. It is not to be found. The only responsibility of the church in caring for the needy of the world in general is to teach its members to obey Galatians 6:10; James 1:27, and Matt. 22:38. Individuals could and should be doing a lot more than they are to help those in need. After all, most of the kind of help people need either in the church or out of it, is the kind that only individuals can give. Organizations can raise money and hire people. But only individuals with the love of God in their hearts can care for the needy in the way they need to be cared for most of the time. The church is not organized to take care of all the needy of the world. It is not commanded by Christ to do it. It has other work so much more important that it cannot take time to do it. Let not the church be charged with work God told you and me as individuals to do!

But if we will think about it we can see that this same principle applies to a lot of other things besides benevolence. In I Timothy 5:16 Paul was talking about caring for widows, but other texts, while not using exactly the same words, nevertheless teach us that the church is not to be charged with quite a number of other responsibilities which men would like to impose upon it. For example....

Politics. Men have always wanted to use the church to further their political ambitions. Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." Again, "My kingdom is not of this world." Let us keep the church out of politics and politics out of the church. We have no right to impose upon the church political missions of any kind. Let not the church be charged!

Business. The church does not exist to make money. No church has any right to engage in business enterprise. Jesus cleansed the temple in Jerusalem, saying, "Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise." It is significant that in the early church members sold their property and brought the money to give to the Lord. They did not deed their property and their businesses to the church. If brethren of this generation had followed their example they might have prevented the church from being split. But they went far in the other direction. They not only deeded property to the church; they even told the church how it had to use this property. Thus they forced the churches into business, real estate, farming, etc.

Secular Education. No one doubts the importance of it! But there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that it is the church's job to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. This work belongs to the home, and not to the church. Christians may operate schools, and may teach schools as individuals. But whenever the churches start supporting schools out of the church treasury, or whenever churches start depending on schools to lead and direct the affairs of the church, they have gone too far. The Lord's church got along fine for many centuries without the help of any kind of school. Let not the church be charged directly or indirectly with the business of secular education!

Recreation. Jesus did not die on the cross to build an institution for the purpose of providing recreation and entertainment. Some have tried to slip these things into the program of the church under the guise of fellowship. The word fellowship is not a synonym of recreation, and the word as used in the Bible has absolutely nothing to do with recreation. Churches which spend money given to the Lord to support summer camps, to build kitchens and dining rooms, and recreation (fellowship, as they are called) halls either at the church building or at a Bible chair building, or anything else have as little authority for such action as others for instrumental music in the worship. Wholesome recreation is fine, but we should provide it for ourselves. Let not the church be charged!

— Box 3487, El Paso, Texas