Fighting the Good Fight? I Wonder
By Roger D. Stewart
Poor Max, William and Rubel. They remind me of the boxer who prepared a lifetime for the Olympics and then when it came time to fight, failed to show up. We hear more and more frequently about how they are given opportunities for which most preachers ache — to step into the ring with denominationalism. But, by the time the bell rings, they have taken off the gloves and set up a fellowship table in the middle of the canvas.
Most preachers can only dream about these kinds of opportunities. What man of God would ever refuse an invitation to speak to the Baptists, the Methodists, and the Disciples. Just think what it would mean to be invited to speak from such a "bully pulpit," the truths of God's Word. What a golden opportunity to instruct denominational audiences about how believers in Christ can be united — not in diversity which doesn't work and never has — but in the cross of Jesus. These men are invited to speak in the "synagogue on the Sabbath." And what do they do? They preach the doctrine of sectarian division and diversity. I'm told that at least one of them might have even worn the robe of the hosting clergy while delivering his address.
How wonderful a victory it would have been if just one of these men had taken the pulpit determined to speak where the Bible speaks and to shut up where it doesn't. How wonderful if, like Paul, they had stood before those crowds speaking with the courage of righteous conviction like the apostle did on Mars Hill in Acts 17. Imagine the force for good they could have been if they had spoken out for the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Imagine the victory if even one of them had simply preached from Ephesians 4: there is one Lord, one faith, one hope, one baptism.... "Unity," they could have preached, "comes not in opinion and diversity of interpretation. Rather, it is found in accepting the authority and inerrancy of the Sacred Writings and determining to obey them as closely as possible." "Diversity, by definition, divides," they should have preached. What a golden opportunity to explain that unity is in Christ and in denial of self and in the daily taking up of our cross and following him. How I would have loved to have been in that audience and heard those words. How grateful I am that I was not present to hear what they actually did say.
Poor guys. What a wonderful party they were invited to. They had an opportunity to stand in the shadow of the cross and on the rock solid gospel of Jesus Christ where they could have made a real difference. Instead they chose to go as marshmallows, and came away changing nothing.
Now that I think about it, maybe that's why they were invited in the first place.
Published August 1996