Question:

Well, I have been reading through your site and it has made me question some things about my church. Right now I'm beginning college and I attend a church of Christ as I did when I was back home. I now have a much more solid understanding of why I attend a church of Christ and why I believe what I believe.

Anyway, while reading through your site there were some matters that were brought up that concerned me greatly within my own church. First of all in both churches I attend there were "youth groups." I never thought much of it, but I, of course, realize they weren't in the first century church. Are they inherently bad? I read your article about games in the Youth Group but it didn't leave me with a solid answer. There is also a Youth Minister, I mean is that a title? What about the college "interns" in the groups? Also, there are "Fellowship Halls" where meals are prepared. Also sometimes there is clapping and it has divided some of the churches of Christ back where I lived. We also attend church camps. I mean all these things I never really thought about. Are they all bad? Both churches of Christ have all of these qualities.

I have read the articles on all of these issues and I'm not really sure what to do. I mean when it comes to clapping I don't do it, but I don't force that on others. Should I not attend fellowship meals? I mean am I supposed to look for a different church? There aren't too many more churches of Christ in my area and I've been questioning this a lot lately. I hate to use this word but I fear I am becoming too "legalistic" as my mom once kind of told me.


Answer:

The problem is that each case people are acting with Christ's authority for these things. From a world's viewpoint, we might argue that they don't appear bad, but that isn't the question we should be seeking to answer. We were told: "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17). "In his name" means with his authority or approval. We can't give approval for the Lord, we have to seek his approval. To say "I'm doing this for Jesus" doesn't mean Jesus agrees. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23). Thus the important question is are these things good? That is, can you find authority for doing these things and thus know for certain that God approves of them?

I have found it fascinating that people turned what Jesus required of his followers into some type of sin. After all Jesus said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). Isn't that what "legalism" means? See: Legalism: The Un-Sin.