By Daniell H. King
Nestled among the world’s millions, barely noticeable among the world’s governments, there exists a kingdom which transcends their great numbers and the mighty power of their armies. It wields little sway in the arena of international politics, and there is not much to be said for its impact upon the economies of the nations. Its organization is so simple as to be unimpressive. A few short pages could tell of the fashion of it and do so without much clever rhetoric or ornate technical jargon. Those who comprise its membership have never outnumbered those outside its ranks. And, by and large, they are humble folks, devoid of the signs of wealth and extravagance. They wear no uniform that sets them off in contrast to their neighbors, except that their lives are rich in kind deeds and love for their fellow men, and they eschew many things indulged in by their friends.
They have no fancy name for themselves, except that they do take pride in being called after their Master’s name. Even in this, though, they give place to His simple parting wish by taking no other designation than the one worn by His earliest disciples some two millennia ago. By saying they are “Christians” they only declare to all that they follow Jesus Christ – and nothing more or less.
To them worship is viewed as an important part of life in the spiritual kingdom to which they have pledged allegiance. Emphasis is not placed upon the location of the site of their worship activities, nor upon the expense involved in the obtaining of such, nor even upon the furnishings or trappings of the place. In most cases these are surprisingly simple and sometimes a bit lackluster. But they are usually as commodious as necessity will prevail upon them to be.
The visitor who comes among them only to watch them worship will be deeply disappointed at what he sees and hears. This is so because nothing that they say or do in worship is meant to please the eye and ear of man. It is rather directed at the heart of God and is meant to put the human heart in tune with the Divine. Another thing may disappoint the uninitiated hearer: he will find nothing that is not very ancient in their services. Nothing is there which is totally new, nothing which smacks of the contemporary or that is .fleeting. They sing songs and commemorate their Lord’s death and His rising again to life as did men two thousand years before. And yet, it never grows so old as to make them weary of it. The same emotions well up in them as did in the first disciple who handed the bread and cup to one another in simple sharing in their Lord’s matchless life and sacrificial death.
What they believe is likewise a matter requiring no complex system for either its explanation or its application. They believe and practice everything taught and commanded by Christ and His apostles in the New Testament. That which Christ and His apostles left unrevealed and uncommanded, they in turn leave off from believing and practicing. They make no laws for others or for themselves. The thoughts and words of others who have gone before are respected for the wisdom they may contain. But they are never raised to the status of law. Even among the ranks of those who describe themselves as believers and call themselves Christians, people of such dedication to divine principle are a rarity.
Who are these people? They are Christians, not Christians in name and by designation alone, but Christians after the primitive order. In every respect it is our prayer and our purpose to fit this description. If we do, a “church of Christ” exists truly in every community wherein we keep house for the Lord. Of this, we may be certain.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 2, pp. 51-52
January 19, 1984