STRENGTH And Weakness
--By Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is the honor roll of Old Testament heroes. From Abel, the first man of faith, to Joshua, whose loyalty to God stood the test of weary wilderness wanderings, Paul chronicles the achievements of faith, and, appending a cluster of names made immortal by valorous deeds, declares that "the time would fail me" to tell it all.
Weakness Turned Into Strength
In the drama of ancient wonders which the faith of these valiants had wroght was the secret phenomena that they "out of weakness were made strong." Kingdoms were subdued, the mouths of lions were stopped, the power of fire was quenched, weak armies "waxed valiant in fight" and "turned to flight" powerful armies, and ad infinitum the story of conquering faith could be told.
What is the lesson? It is strength in weakness. If God used a weak, feeble nation of slaves, and, turning their weakness into strength, conquered the most powerful nations of antiquity, may he not today turn weakness into strength?
Taking the country as a whole, the churches of Christ are, in comparison with denominationalism, numerically weak. It has ever been so with God's cause, but it has ever been true that God turns weakness into strength.
Elements of Strength in Weakness
First, the undenominational plea of churches of Christ has been felt, and is being felt, all over the world. The church of Christ is undenominational, nondenominational and antidenominational; it is not a denomination nor or denominations, and is aggressively against denominationalism. The aim of Christians is not party conquest and victory, but truth and salvation. A complete return to the original, to restor the doctrine, worship, and work of the New Testament church, is our aim, and this has been our strength everywhere the plea is known.
Another element of our strength lies in the fact that to us all error has looked alike. Consistently opposed to denominational error, the religious world has looked to the churches of Christ to produce men to stand against infidelity and champion the cause of the Bible in the field of polemics. It took the Campbells and the McGarveys to consistently and successfully oppose infidelity in the past century. Denominational affiliants could not do it. This has become a recognized fact, and may be cited as an example of weakness turned into strength.
A Converse Truth
If weakness may be turned into strength, the converse is true. Strength may be, and often has been, turned into weakness--and among ourselves.
First, if that distinctive, undenominational gospel plea has strength, the tendency of the churches to lose sight of it and become a church among churches, denominationally, will turn strength into weakness. To flirt or affiliate with denominationalism is but to compromise the plea and weaken its power.
As the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah required complete severance from foreign affiliations, marriages, and in speech to abandon the language of Ashdod, so today nothing short of the complete separation of the church from denominationalism can fulfill the demands of the gospel.
Second, the lact of consecration, as well as doctrinal compromise, will turn strength into weakness. It has been charged that we are a people "all doctrine and no heart," and have we not almost justified the charge in the apparent lack of consecration? But it is not too much doctrine; it is too little spirituality in worship, sacrifice in service, connsecration in life, piety in heart, and devotion to the church. Loyalty and devotion to the church--not so much to men, is the great need. When we hear it said that a certain man is devoted to his family, we know what that means. If he is devoted to his business, he does not neglect it. And a Christian's devotion to the church means that it is an all-absorbing interest in his life. He will not be "moved away from the hope of the gospel," not in any way sidetracked. He is loyal to Christ and the church, not to men and their little movements.
Third, the lack of unity is always a blight to the cause of Christ. The spectacle of division, schism, contention, bitterness and strife, turns strength into weakness. Such things in an army are called "mutiny." Internal factions, division, and discord among brethren is nothing short of treason and mutiny in the Lord's army, and our strength is reduced to pitiful weakness before the world.
We need discipline in the church, respect for God's law and order, else anarchy and chaos reign. Let us be one; for in unity there is strength, even in weakness.
October 9, 1930