By Jarrod Jacobs
In the first century we find where the Apostles and early preachers placed the emphasis upon spiritual truths, upon spiritual needs, not on physical things.
Recently, I received a very cordial letter from a young man in White Bluff concerning some of the practices of the Pleasant View church of Christ, the congregation with whom I work. I thought it would be interesting for us to consider what this young man asked. Though the young man was upright and honest enough to give me his name, and ought to be commended for such behavior, I will not mention his name in this article for it has no bearing on the answer given. (Both letters have been edited for space.)
His letter to me:
“. . . It has been rumored by several neighboring congregations that you do not believe in having kitchens in the building. I am in no way condemning you. I am not trying to spread rumors either. I just wanted to know if this is true and if so why do you believe this? Please reply with a response. Thank you for your time.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to write and ask your questions. We really appreciate that. . . . From your letter, you said that you had heard some rumors about the church at Pleasant View from “neighboring congregations.” Please tell me, which congregations? I just wondered why they felt the need to tell people what we do and do not do. They are not like you, for you took time to write and ask about our practices. This is to be commended.
Now, to your questions. You asked, whether or not we “believe in having kitchens in the church building.” You further asked, “Why do you believe this?” These are both very good questions, and I will try to give you an answer from the Bible. First of all, let me begin by saying that it does not matter what “I believe” on any subject, but what matters is “what saith the Scripture?” (Rom. 4:3). There- fore, we need to start with the Scripture, and then base our lives around what God says (Col. 3:17). We are not to practice things we like, and then turn around and try to find authority for it “after the fact”! I’m sure you realize this, or you wouldn’t have written.
In order to answer your questions, let us ask ourselves, what is the nature of the church? Is it a spiritual entity, or physical? I believe we both would say that the church is a spiritual institution. Christ said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The church is described as the bride of Christ (John 3:29-30; Rev. 22:17). In Romans 14:17, we read, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” This passage makes clear that the function of the Lord’s church is not found in physi- cal things, but in spiritual matters. Romans 14:17 makes a progressive statement. Here, we see that the kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. When one strives for righteousness (God’s word, Ps. 119:172; Rom. 1:16-17), he will find peace with God, and then joy results from this peace. Notice again the fact that the peace and joy come not through worldly appeals, but through the spiritual appeal of Scripture! Therefore, the nature of a thing will determine its function! The nature of the church is spiritual, therefore its function is spiritual as well. In like manner, something with a physical nature will have a physical function (example: a block-laying company, etc.).
What purpose does a kitchen serve? Does it serve a physical or spiritual need? If it serves a spiritual need, every congregation of God’s people needs to have one! If physical, it has no place in the spiritual function of the church. In the first century we find where the Apostles and early preachers placed the emphasis upon spiritual truths, upon spiritual needs, not on physical things. Their objective was to preach the gospel (Rom. 1:16). Their goal was to bring lost souls to Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Their mission was to “preach the word. . .” (2 Tim. 4:2). They also commended local congregations who did those very things (Rom. 1:8; 16:19, 26; 1 Thess. 1:6-8). Knowing that we may only “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11), where do we find Jesus, Peter, Paul, James, or any other inspired man telling a local congregation that they need kitchens, or similar things in order to carry out the work God wanted them to do? Consider also the fact that if someone shows we can do the Lord’s work without the kitchen, then why have it at all? I enjoy eating as much as anyone, but we need to remember what the nature and function of the church is. Paul said, “if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation” (1 Cor. 11:34). If each local congregation adhered to this command, there would not be a problem concerning kitchens and the like.
Perhaps some might say to you that they see nothing wrong with a kitchen. Maybe some will say, “Look at all the good it does.” Others may argue that we are “too picky,” etc. But, when people do this, have they answered the argument? When people make comments about the brethren at Pleasant View, or when they spread rumors such as the ones you heard, does that change the nature of the church from spiritual to physical? Again, it is not what “I believe,” nor what the “brethren believe.” We are striving to do and to act only as the Bible says. I know you can appreciate this.
Please come and visit us any time! . . . In closing, let me commend your good attitude again. Thank you for writing and asking your questions. Thank you for having the courage to sign your name as well! To honorable people like you, this may seem to be nothing, but many refuse to sign their name for fear of any real contact. I appreciate what you have done, and hope to meet you at some future time.
Sincerely, Jarrod Jacobs