Quite frequently – I want to say no less than once a week – I hear someone proudly acclaim, “I’m a Church of Christ!” What they mean is that having been baptized into Christ at some time in their lives; they are members of the Lord’s church. Of course, I always rejoice to know that a person is a brother or sister in the Lord and I share the joy of being fellow-citizens in the kingdom of Christ, but there are some things about the acclamation which disturb me.
First, “I’m a Church of Christ” implies a woeful misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s church. Disciples of Christ are called “Christians” (Acts 11:26) – not “Church of Christ.” Collectively Christians are the church of Christ. “I’m a Church of Christ” has a strong denominational tone. It seems to say, “See! I chose the Church of Christ in preference to the Baptist or Methodist or Mormon or some other denomination.” Perhaps due to an inflection of the voice, it sounds definitely prejudiced. While it indicates a terrible misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of God’s Word, it boasts, “I would never be anything else but a Church of Christ!” Now we would not like to see anyone a member of anyone’s church but Christ’s, but we strongly believe that such a decision ought to be from Biblical teaching and conviction and not prejudice.
Most disturbing of all is the fact that almost all (yet not all) who use the expression are people who were once baptized but have long since disassociated themselves from the church. They haven’t been to worship, or participated in any activity of the church in years. Yet, they seem to be saying, “See! I’m a Church of Christ so I’m saved!” They don’t seem to realize that just being a member of the church does not save anybody. One can be saved at one time, and later due to his own behavior, he can be lost. Jesus indicated that the saved have their names written in the book of life (Luke 10:20), but that there would be some whose names He would remove from the book of life (Rev. 3:5).
So, brother or sister, it’s good that you once obeyed the gospel of Christ, but you must continue in the Word of Christ if you are to be His disciple. We plead with you, if you have drifted away, to return to the Shepherd of your soul now, before you must meet Him in judgment.
By Mack Lyon (deceased)