Simple Enough

We need to keep close to the ancient simplicity of the original Christian faith, and build our foundation on its original unity. We must abhor the arrogance of those who harass and tear apart the church of God under the pretense of correcting errors and holding to "the Truth." --Richard Baxter

Let us thus think often that our only business in this life is to please God. --Brother Lawrence

These quotes sum up the best of our denomination's history.

I don't talk a lot about the history of the Church of Christ. Partially because it seems that the more I know, the less I understand. As with any religious body it's a complex story with many different players. And then once you get all of the facts and events straight, there is the thorny task of making a cohesive story out of them. That's one of the reasons I hesitate to say, "This is where we come from."

But in spite of all the dangers, I would like to point out one facet of our origin that I have always admired. There is, in the history of the Churches of Christ, a vehement desire to simply be "Christians"--to shed the titles and the trappings and simply be a church of Christ.

What's amazing is that the beginnings of our denomination didn't really have one beginning, but several. At one point in time there were multiple people throughout the country who were responding to a similar impulse. They all wanted to make following Jesus a simple process. They grew tired of the ornate theological distinctions between churches. They wearied of the inter-denominational squabbling over the finer points of scripture. They grew tired of the dense creeds and doctrinal mazes that separated one believer from another.

So, in response to this impulse for simplicity, there were multiple movements occurring simultaneously all over the young nation. And what unified them was this desire to stop worrying about technicalities and start focusing on simply following Jesus. This is typified by their avoidance of denominational labels. These people were just "Christians."

Of course, things never go as planned. Before long there was huge disagreement over what a "simple" Christian really looked like. And, unfortunately, the disagreement often just led to more division.

But in spite of it all I still resonate with that early impulse. I've always liked the idea of being "Christians only, but not the only Christians." This morning, we'll read a passage in Mark's gospel where Jesus is telling his disciples to stop worrying about trivialities and just follow him. I hope we can strive to do that this morning.