Is This The Church That…

helpSeveral years ago, I remember hearing someone tell the story of a woman who walked into the Madison Church of Christ when Ira North was the preacher there.  She was in need of benevolent help and asked brother North, “Is this  the church that helps people?”  Now that’s some way to frame a question!  How could you ever say “no” to that?

A few years ago, a man responded to the invitation after I had finished preaching.  When he came forward, he went up on the pulpit and laid down flat on his face with his arms and legs spread out, while saying “hallelujah!”  I went up on the pulpit, whispered in his ear, and the man followed me to the front pew and I talked with him there.  Following services, one of my elders came to me and said, “What did you say to that man?  How did you get him to get up and go sit down?”  I replied, “I told him to get up, we don’t praise the Lord here.”  Of course I was joking, but it does bring to mind this question, “As a church, for what are we known?”

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) said “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love.”  While that shouldn’t be the case, regrettably, sometimes it is.  While it is true that a follower of Jesus must learn to hate sin, in all of its forms, he must also learn to love that which is pure, holy, and upright.  In fact, Jesus once stated his disciples would be known by their love, not by the things they hate (John 13:35).  I don’t want to just be known for all the things I’m against, I want to be known for the good things to which the Lord calls us to embrace and share with others.

So ask yourself this question: “For what are you known?”  Are you known primarily for the things you’re against, or are you known for the things you love?

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Comments 2

  • I remember hearing Ira tell that story when the Madison church did the teacher workshop at ACU in 1976. I thought it was a young brother and sister who asked that question when they wandered into the building shortly before 5:00 as he was getting ready to go home. He said he told them, “With all the churches in town you found the right one!” Great story anyway you tell it. Thanks for the reminder about part of our mission.

  • David, thanks for clarifying some of the details of Ira North’s statement. I had heard the story years ago, and now can’t remember if I read, heard it spoken by brother North, or if I heard someone repeat it. Whatever the case, it made an impact on me. For the record, here’s the way Ira North, himself, recounts the story… “A few years ago I was at the church building by myself. The offices were closed and the building locked. I heard a timid knock on the door, and when I went to the back door there were two little girls about six and eight years of age. I opened the door and asked if I could be of any help. The oldest girl said, “Mr. is this the church what helps people?” I threw up my hands and said, “Well, I declare. There are 750 churches in this town, and you have found the right one. This is indeed the church what helps people.” Ira North – Balance pg. 55-6.

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