Carl B. Garner (via Collinsville IL bulletin)


If there is one thing we humans can agree on it is the need for change. Nothing is as boring as the “same-old- same-old” things we have always seen, read, watched, or eaten.  Variety—that’s what America is sold on, and that’s what America is going to get.  Even if it kills us, we want a change of scenery, food and action.

Well, change has its value, though even “change” becomes boring.  It is nice to sleep in our own bed, sit in our favorite chair, and read our hometown newspaper.  We like to know where to find things.  And—we like to get where we want to go without looking at a map.

During a recent trip to East Texas we stopped at McDonald’s for a bite to eat.  We ordered the “Big Breakfast” because we knew what to expect, and we were not disappointed.  It’s the same in Texas, California, Maine, and Alabama. Boring?  Not at all.  The biscuits, the sausage, the hash browns, the eggs—they all taste the same everywhere I’ve been.  They must use the same recipe all over the world.  How do they do that?  Is it just a coincidence?  I think not—they all use the same recipe.

In the summer of 1956 I sold Bibles in the state of Ohio.  On a Saturday night, we arrived in the town where we would live for the next three months.  In that small town, there was a church building with a sign, “church of Christ.”  We were pleased we would not have to drive a long distance to worship.  The next morning we got up early, dressed and drove to the church building.  When we entered we were surprised to see a huge pipe organ and many other things that did not “look right.”  The preacher came out of his office and welcomed us, and he wore one of the “backward collars” that often characterize a “reverend.”  We must have looked shocked.  He asked us where we were from.  When we said “Texas,” he understood and sent us twenty-five miles to a town in Indiana.  To say the least, things were very different in that small Ohio town.

Should we have been shocked?  Is it wrong for some things to be alike and for others to be different?  No, to both questions; but when Christ has given us the “recipe” for worship, doctrine, and daily living, those things ought to be the same in Ohio, Texas, and New Caledonia.

McDonaId’s are the same in Florida and Vermont because they all use the same recipe from the same source—their headquarters.  Why can’t the church that belongs to Christ be the same in Texas and everywhere else?  Since everything we believe, practice, and teach comes from our “headquarters,” Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18; Philippians 3:20), we should be able to find the same truths taught and practiced in Montana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, and wherever we travel.

Baptism is “for the remission of sins” in Dallas, Boston, Sacramento and Tucson (Acts 2:38).  Bible authority for every doctrine and practice is demanded in Rome, Munich, and Hong Kong.  Not because they decided that is so, but because the Bible said it is so (Colossians 3:17).  The “doctrine of Christ” must be taught and honored in every place of worship, whether it be on Mercer Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, or Madison Avenue (2 John 1:9-11).

When man gets bored with some activity, he wants to make a change. Man, however, has never had the right to change or modify God’s way of doing things.  Moses could not (Deuteronomy 4:2).  The apostle Paul could not (Galatians 1:6-9); and when we refuse to walk in the “way that leads to life,” we can be sure that we are walking in the “way that leads to destruction” (Matthew7:13-14).  For this reason, and this reason alone, we are determined to do “all things according to the pattern” (Hebrews 8:5; Romans 6:17).  This is not because we want to be different, but because we want to be what Christ wants us to be—His church.  This being true, we shall: (1) Worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24); (2) Preach only the truths revealed in the Bible, God’s inspired Word (I Peter 4:11; II Timothy 3:16-17); (3) In areas of expedience, we will practice only that which is “unto edifying” (I Corinthians 14:26); and (4) Be consistent in our convictions by practicing meekness, self-discipline, forbearance, gentleness, joy, and perseverance (Galatians 5:19-23; I Corinthians 15:58; II Peter 1:5-10).

We often hear of Christians who travel from home and stop on a Sunday morning to worship with their brethren.  Some leave the building with puzzled looks on their faces.  They came to a building with a sign that was familiar, but when they went inside nothing was familiar.  We all like an occasional change, but we have no authority to change God’s Word.  There is a place for diversity, but not a diversity that ignores God’s Word.  McDonald’s would not tolerate such diversity in their biscuits, and it must not be desired or tolerated in the church Jesus purchased with His precious blood (I Peter 1:18-19).