A Kingdom Not of This World
The Jews in Jesus' day misunderstood the nature of the kingdom which he came to build. They thought his kingdom was to be a worldly kingdom with earthly designs. Thus Jesus taught them, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (Jno.18:36). The apostle Peter also emphasized that the church is a spiritual body with a spiritual mission. Peter said, "ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 2: 5).
Yet in spite of such clear declarations of scripture, there were those who expected an earthly kingdom with purposes which were, "of this world." More surprising, however, is the fact that even today there are members of the church who still do not understand the purpose and function of the church. There are those among us who still would attempt to make Christ's church a kingdom "of this world."
Before me as I write is a bulletin, (now several months old) from the Washington Street Church of Christ in St. Albans, West Virginia. In this bulletin is an announcement regarding a skating party "Sponsored by Park & Main Church of Christ" in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The full announcement reads: "SKATE PARTY Midtown Roller Rink Sponsored by Park & Main Church of Christ - Saturday, April 27 12:20 to 2:30 P.M. Skates 50c - Spectators 15c - Skate Rentals 50c."
It certainly is not that I object to a skating party for young people. Such a party, in the right environment with proper supervision, would be a nice thing. But it just so happens that the mission of the church is not to 46 sponsor" skating parties and other similar this - worldly things. The mission of the church for which Christ died is entirely spiritual.
Also before me are two bulletins from Fifth Avenue Church of Christ in Terre Haute, Indiana. In years gone by I have held several meetings for this Terre Haute church. Fifth Avenue church announced a "Youth Rally" to be conducted by the, Southside church in Terre Haute in these words. "The South Side congregation is hosting a big TWO DAY YOUTH RALLY to be held Saturday and Sunday April 27 & 28. They have two big fun, filled days planned for the Youth. There will be bowling, song and skit hootenanny (sic), and many more fun filled things designed toward the Youth."
In a later but undated bulletin, Northside church announces the schedule will include "7: 00 to 8:00 Hootenanny," "8:00 to 9:00 Galilean worship services by the lake side" and "9:00 to 12:00 Late Night Bowling." The bulletin also states that from " 12: 00 to 1:30 Dinner (will be) served in the fellowship building."
The bulletin author adds, "If you have never gone to one (i.e. a Youth Rally--CW) you are missing a thrill of your life. You can't imagine the Christian boost you get by attending these rallies." Now what Bible authority does "The South Side congregation" have for that congregation sponsoring and promoting a "hootenanny" and "Late Night Bowling?" Did Christ authorize his church to engage in such activities? Did Christ die to purchase and to establish a church whose mission it is to sponsor "hootenannies" and "late night bowling" If so, I have failed to find in my Bible where Christ assigned such activities to his church.
Bowling and even a hootenanny might be alright under proper circumstances, but it is not within the scriptural purview of the church to sponsor and promote such activities. Furthermore, I cannot imagine what kind of a Christian one must be to get a "Christian boost" out of a "hootenanny" or "late night bowling." Such carnal measures cannot deepen one's spirituality. When the assertion is made that such activities can deepen one's spirituality, I am reminded of Alexander Campbell's comment about the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship. Campbell said, "That all persons who have no spiritual discernment, taste or relish for spiritual meditations, consolations and sympathies of renewed hearts, should call for such aid is but natural . . . But I presume to all spiritually-minded Christians, such aids would be as a cowbell in a concert."
To me, a "Hootenanny" and "Late Night Bowling" sponsored by the church and conducted in the name of Christ are as inconceivable as a cowbell in a concert.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 9, pp. 3-4