“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16
“You look very familiar to me. Do I know you?” he asked.
“I don’t think so.” I replied. “That will be $5.”
Last year, my family volunteered in the 4H building at the county fair. We sold concessions to fundraise for 4H. My wife and kids worked in the kitchen. My job was to run the cash register. The man handed me $10 and I gave him $5 back.
“You really look familiar. Didn’t I see you last night at the brewhouse?”
“The brewhouse has got the best beer, and now you can get liquor by the drink there.”
About that time, a young woman walked up to pay for her hamburger. The man stepped aside and stood there. He stared at her.
“Wow! She’s hot.” he said as she walked away. He continued expressing how good looking he believed she was with several vulgar words. As he stood there talking to me, he dropped five or ten more cuss words.
“Are you sure I don’t know you from somewhere?”
“I can’t get over how familiar you look. What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a Baptist preacher. I’m the pastor at First Southern Baptist Church here in Fort Scott.”
I cannot describe the color his face turned at that moment.
He spit, sputtered, and finally said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I read your newspaper column every week. I’m a Baptist too. I’ve even been to your church once or twice. I just don’t go like I ought to.”
There’s a lot of that going around. According to a Pew Research Study, tomorrow morning in America, 70 percent of all those who profess the name of Jesus will not be in church. The same poll found that almost half (46 percent) said the reason they don’t go to church is because they practice their faith in some other way. They believe, as one man once told me, “I don’t have to go to church to be a part of the universal church.”
It is impossible to be a part of the universal church without being part of a local church. To think so, doesn’t make sense. You can’t be part of Kiwanis International without also being a member of a local chapter. You can’t be part of the universal human family without first being a part of a small immediate family.
Every letter in the New Testament was written to Christians in local churches. The phrase “one another” is mentioned 59 times in the New Testament. Fifty-nine times, the Bible gives us a command that we can’t obey without turning to another member of the church and demonstrating the love of God. It is impossible to “one another” by yourself. It is impossible to “one another” in your heart.
James Collins is pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached by phone at (620) 223-2986 or by email at [email protected].