As we reviewed last week, our penchant and reputation for sectarianism could have been stopped had we lived into unity, which was one of the key instincts of our movement from the beginning. So, the question that ought to be asked is: How did a movement of Christians who were focused on unity become known as such a sectarian institution?
I believe it happened because we failed to live into another key instinct I'd like to highlight today.
The third key instinct in our movement that I appreciate is our commitment to Christ and Scripture. One of the early identifying statements in our movement is that we have "no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible, no law but love, no name but the divine." Not a bad vision worth pursuing.
It's hard for any group of people to say they have truly held to Christ only. Our actions often seem to betray that desire. But this motto is a vision we ought to live into.
One of the earliest sermons I preached at Littleton was entitled "Becoming a Church of Christ." I likely angered people on both sides of the congregation with that title for a couple of reasons. For those that wanted to jettison our past, the title brought back memories of a painful past with our movement. Why would we want to hang on to a title that reminds us of so many painful memories? On the other hand, some were likely excited by the title, but disappointed by the sermon. It was a hopeful moment to think their 24 year-old new preacher wanted to take the movement back to its "glory days."
But that wasn't the point of the sermon. The sermon was not an argument for keeping the name "Church of Christ" on our signs and title deeds.
Now, before you get your panties in a wad, I wasn't set on changing the name because it was embarrassing to me with all of the baggage the name carries. That might be an issue in some areas, but not in Denver, Colorado. I was clear that we must take "Church of Christ" off of our name if our church is an embarrassment to Jesus. If we fail to reflect Christ, then we'd be better taking the name off than continuing to do harm to his name.
I have to admit...I kind of like our name. It explains to everyone that the body that meets at 6495 S. Colorado Blvd. belongs to Jesus. He's our head and we intend to put him on display in everything we do as a church.
But too often, our name has come to stand for things that have nothing to do with Jesus and his central message of the kingdom of God. And when that happens, we're better off hedging our bets by taking the name off of the sign than continuing to do business as usual with his name being equated with traits that turn people away from the good news.
When's the last time you remember saying, "Oh, you're from the Church of Christ, huh? You're those people who do your best to live exactly like Jesus did, right?"
I talk to more and more people who are fascinated by Jesus, but they're continually repulsed by Christians who serve as roadblocks on their path toward Christ. If we could return our focus to Jesus over every other pursuit, I think there would be more interested in joining us on our journey.
So, I think we should pursue this original vision. Let's make Christ our creed. Let's make Scripture our script. Let's make love our only law. And let's bear the name of the divine one, Jesus Christ.