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The "Right" Church

by Robert F. Turner

A brother told me his friend asked if the church of which he was a member was the true church. The brother is an honest, conscientious man, and he said he couldn't tell his friend the church of which he was a member was perfect. He knew, and the friend knew, they had problems and imperfections. So he told the friend it was the nearest thing to "right" of which he knew. Is this the best approach?

The "nearest thing to right" says I know what is "right," but either I can not find -- perhaps believe there does not exist - one that measures up; or I am willing to settle for some less than what I know should be. Perhaps some of our readers believe he should have said he was a member of the church of Christ and that is the "true church." He could have said it; and launched into the time of its establishment, its name, its government and the other characteristics usually used for identification. But his Querist referred to the local church of that community, and was smart enough to know that proving the features of the first century church is not proving this local church qualifies.

I suggested he discuss the church of the New Testament records from two angles: the IDEAL, or the perfect church one might envision by studying what is approved and disapproved of God. Then, point out that the actual congregations of the first century were not perfectly aligned with this ideal. In fact, we learn what Christ desired by seeing their errors corrected, as well as by approved examples, etc. Then, drive this home! Anything short of a sincere, all-out endeavor to be and do what Christ wants us to be and do, is not quite good enough. Tell your friend you have done what you believe God's word teaches one must do to become a child of God. And you are in fellowship with other like children, who are endeavoring to work and worship as God's word directs. Ask him to examine your faith and practices in the light of God's word. If you can show him you welcome constructive criticism, will correct any errors he might find, are ever cognizant of weakness and need to improve, and are praying for forgiveness and strength to do better - brother, you have shown him the "right" church. If you can't stand such a test, perhaps you will CHANGE THE SUBJECT!!