Not Ashamed of Christ and His Church
If you drive around town, you will find places of worship are still prevalent in our neighborhoods, even in a COVID world. The self-identification of such places is interesting. For example, there is Pathway, Grace Creek, Grace Crossing, The Ministry Church, Motion Church, Highridge, Revive Church, New Horizon, New Beginning, Solid Rock, Faith, Church in the Wind, LifePoint, and numerous others. Perhaps the philosophy is that having a catchy phrase will attract attention or a larger audience. You might ask, "So what? What difference does it make?"
It is interesting how many things in the New Testament are specifically identified with Christ. For example, Mark speaks of the beginning of the gospel of Christ (Mark 1:1). We desire to share in the love, mercy, and grace of Christ (Eph. 3:19; Jude 1:21; 2 Cor. 13:14). In Christ we have hope, joy, and peace (Eph. 1:12; Phil. 4:4; Col. 3:15). All spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph. 1:3), and the promise of eternal life is based in Him (John 17:3). Everywhere you look in Scripture, God's blessings, and provisions for us are in Christ. When our Lord is so prominent in everything mentioned in Scripture, why do so many groups leave Him out of their self-designation? Why would so many religious affiliations absent references to the Lord in how they describe themselves, in how they want others to think of them, remember them, and identify them?
Of course, none of these previously mentioned designations are found anywhere in the New Testament. The Jews referred to the Lord's church as a sect, and often it was simply referred to as the way (Acts 24:14). Many times, Scripture calls it just the church, indicating an assembly of called out people (Romans 16:5). However, we are also familiar with it being identified with the Lord, the one who purchased it and bought it with His blood (Acts 20:28). As such, the term “church of Christ” is not a denominational name, but a term of ownership, the church that belongs to Christ (Romans 16:16). Truly, His church should not be embarrassed to be identified with its Lord.
All of these designations you can find of religious groups in our town have a great deal of hype, but they also are missing something. They fail to identify themselves with the one who owns the church, who is Head of His body. How sad many of those who previously identified with the Lord in how they previously presented themselves, are now ceasing to do so. Isn't there something wrong with this? We are called by the gospel of Christ, cleansed by His blood, added to His church, are to live in His will, and be with Him in eternity. When God is so noticeably absent from a group's identification, do not be surprised when His will is absent as well. Paul's words remind us of what life in Christ, of what being part of His church, should mean to us. “For this reason, I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). Let us identify ourselves with our Lord and His kingdom, His body, His church. It is the right thing to do if we want to spend eternity with Him.
μαράνα θᾶ (1 Cor. 16:22)