Thursday, September 17, 2009
I'm going to sound like an old man, but here it goes:
Tradition and Heritage, Maddox. Two words that you must learn to appreciate (Am I really 25?). Many children grow up unappreciative of the heritage they have been born into.
Maddox, should you choose to accept this mission, by my calculations you are a tenth generation member of the Restoration Movement. One of your long lost ancestors, Collin McKinney, was baptized by Barton W. Stone and helped to start some of the first Restoration Movement churches in north Texas. While we did not give you the honorable and distinctive name "Collin," this is your heritage.
Much like me, you have been born on third base, Maddox. Many children in the world do not grow up with grandparents and parents who all love the Lord, but you will. You will actually be born into a home with parents who have taken a combined 9 semesters of Greek and 2 semesters of Hebrew. (While your mom is not a nerd, I am open enough to admit that your father is.) While your mom and dad will not be perfect examples of Christ to you, we are committed to doing the best we can. You won't have to hit a homerun all by yourself and round all of the bases. You've been born on third base. You just have to find your way home.
I've grown up in the same situation. I was blessed to be born on third base. The walk home wasn't always easy, but it was a huge blessing to have parents, grandparents, and ancestors who paved the way for me to Jesus Christ. At times I took for granted my Christian heritage, but I encourage you to appreciate it. Even though being a preacher's kid isn't always the most fun, you will have advantages other kids won't have.
At this point, you don't know anything about Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, Walter Scott, David Lipscomb, or T.B. Larimore. You don't understand the vision it took for your great-great grandfather, Robert S. Bell, to start the Bell Trust, which gives Churches of Christ a chance to do mission work across the world. You don't know the names Prentice Meador, Rick Atchley, Mike Cope, Rubel Shelly, Chris Seidman, Josh Graves, or Josh Ross, but these are men who have paved the way for what will come next in Churches of Christ and the Restoration Movement.
It's easy to be critical of things. Anyone one can tear down a wall. But there are few who can build a new one. I pray that you will be grateful for your heritage. Not grateful in a naive way so that you won't be able to improve things in the future, but grateful so that you can help the church become more faithful to our changing context in the future.
And ultimately, please know that I'm not most concerned about you giving your life to a specific church or movement. I'm most concerned that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ in the most extreme way. Never forget that!