The Lord's Bondservant
The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, and he must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:24-25).
We are finally convinced that personal work, one-on-one, is the best way to teach our neighbor the gospel, so we call on our friendly barber who lives just down the street. He greets us with a smile, and the conversation goes something like this.
"Glad to see you, Reverend! I have intended to talk with you for some time but...." But, we cut him off—.
"If you read your Bible you would know that 'Holy and Reverend is God's name' (Ps. 111:9), and we should not give flattering titles to any man."
"Sorry, Pastor. I just meant..." "Pastor? Don't you know 'pastor' means 'shepherd,' and the shepherds of a church are the bishops? I'm no pastor, I'm just a soul-loving preacher, taking the blessed gospel to poor lost souls in this wicked world."
"Well now, uh... preacher, I didn't mean any harm. You see in our church we.... "
"OUR church? You folk talk about YOUR church as if the Lord didn't have a church. The church belongs to Jesus Christ, who purchased it with His precious blood. The churches that men have planted will all be rooted up."
If he runs us out of the house we can always report our "persecution" the next time we brag about our personal work, and counter adverse criticism by saying, "We really told him the truth."
Civil courtesy would solve many of these problems. Add to that a genuine love for souls, and a dash of "do unto others as..." But these solutions can not take the place of a better understanding of truth.
It must not be equated with a few pat answers; or special attention to baptism, music, and "joining the church." We may feel our brethren are indoctrinated, when in reality they know very little of fundamental principles of truth. Nor do we know denominational doctrine if we fail to understand the system back of those externals we often criticize.
Christianity is far more than slogans and flags to wave; yet, its principles do not require a Doctorate of Divinity or fancy theorizing. If we love souls let us prepare our hearts to assist them: "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" (1 Pet. 3:15-16).
––Robert Turner, March 1981