Vol.XIV No.IX Pg.3
November 1977

A Man With A Problem

Dan S. Shipley

A man with a problem is the Christian with conviction and conscience who "comes to himself" as the member of a church caught up in unscriptural practices. He sees now that he has become an expert in rationalism and dodging issues. For instance, when the controversy arose over church support of human institutions, he really didn't make any serious and objective study of the question. What others told him had been good enough. Anyway, who wants to be called an "anti"? So, he went along.

Later, he became involved in the popular bus-ministry program. From the start, he had felt that if transportation was a problem, then busses were a waste of the Lord's money because members could provide that with their own cars. But, since so many were for it, he went along. However, he had second thoughts when he saw the children being "bribed" with refreshments and prizes to ride the busses. Later, he saw how "convenient" it was to use the busses for transporting members, especially the youth, to social activities. "Is this the work of the church? he wondered, but never asked.

Then came the "Fellowship-Annex". While he knew of other members who were not for it, some of the more outspoken brethren really pushed for it. No one objected much, so why should he? Initially, its use was mostly limited to potlucks and "fellowship" meals. However, since some could not see the difference between these and other social activities (neither could he), it was soon being used for quilting parties, youth parties, bridal and baby showers, wedding receptions and the like. Now his conscience gives him no rest. His contributions have helped to build and maintain something that is no part of the work of the church. The Lord's money is being used to provide for recreation and social activities and HE KNOWS THERE IS NO BIBLE AUTHORITY FOR SUCH!

A friend tells him not to worry because it is only the elders who are responsible if things are wrong in the church. He knows better. He knows elders cannot make laws and only function within God's law. All shall give account personally (2 Cor. 5:10) because all have an obligation to truth. What if the elders decided to omit the Lord's Supper? Would we be bound to follow them or God? Every elder and every member is a partaker (has a share in what the local church dues. That's what scriptural fellowship means. How, then, can the individual as a joint-partaker be right when the collective (church) activity is wrong'. For the man who wants to be SURE of being right with God, that is a problem that cannot be ignored!

The honest man sees he is wrong. What does he do? For sure, he ceases to he honest or he ceases to be wrong! The pressures are great. His friends, or even his own family may not appreciate his convictions. They may even resent them. Stay and teach them? Not likely, as many have found. Staying with the "synagogue" may mean leaving the Lord (Jn. 12:43). We pray for the man with this problem; that he will have the courage to resist compromise and stand for his convictions. If not, he has a worse problem!