First century congregation. Converted idol worshipper: I will never be part of a congregation that has Jewish Christians! They think they are so smart, and we are so stupid! They are know-it-all control freaks! Everything is their way or no way!

Converted Jew: I will never be part of a congregation that has converted idol worshippers! Their concept of God is 'weird'! Their ignorance of scripture is unbelievable! You see it in their lives, in their marriages, and in their families! Their concepts of right and wrong are ridiculous!

Neither realized that God wants every kind of people in His church. They thought the church existed to please them and make them spiritually "comfortable."

At the close of the 20th century. I hate change! Everything is in transition! All I want is to be with people who are like me! If I could find people like me, we would bond together and ignore transition and change. All God wants are people like me!

The church should be composed of people like me. If people thought like I think, did things my way, had my values, had my priorities, saw life like I see it, defined good and bad as I do, defined right and wrong as I do, everything would be simple. And comfortable. And easy. And if anyone wanted to be a part of the church, they would have to change to be like us. After all, God doesn't love people with problems! God doesn't want troubled, unstable people in the church!

And with whom would you cry when an unmarried granddaughter was pregnant? And with whom would you pray with when your son left his family? And who would comfort you when your wife died? And who would quietly put an arm on your shoulder and pray when your five-year-old had leukemia? And who would listen as you grieved over your husband's alcoholism? And where would you go for support when you discovered your son's sexual addictions? And who would help you fight your anger? And where would you go when you were the struggling person?

God-directed thinking for the 21st century. Because transitions alarm us, fears and reactions easily control us. Our simplest response to transition is: "I will not ..." From Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to Samuel, to David, to the prophets, to Jesus, to Peter, to Paul, to you, God achieves His purposes through transition. God cannot use people who react to transition with, "I will not ... " From Noah to you, God uses those who say, "I will do anything that allows God to use me to accomplish His purposes now."

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 11 July 1999

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