America has become a throw-away society. Perhaps as a result of the Industrial Revolution, so many things have become relatively inexpensive. There was a time that socks were hand woven, and holes in them were repaired. When was the last time you knew of anyone in America actually darning a sock? The time and cost involved is greater than the cost of a new pair. A number of years ago I was having problems with a videocassette recorder. I asked an expert about repairing it and was told that it would be cheaper to buy a new one than to fix the old one. Donít upgrade your old computer; buy a newer one. It may even be that the throw-away mentality is responsible for the high rates of divorce and abortion in America. If you get tired of your spouse, trade him/her in on a newer model. Donít want to face the consequences of sex outside of marriage? Just throw away the potential kid.
Unfortunately, this throw-away attitude has even affected the church. There are spiritual things that we feel we can throw away easily, rather than face the time and expense of fixing them.
The church has become a throw-away item. Changing congregations is now easy in many places because some cities have many to choose from. If a person doesnít like one congregation he can just move to the next until he is satisfied that his wishes are met. Somebody creates problems in one congregation, and is being shunned by the members. Donít try to change your ways; just change your congregation.
It appears from the New Testament that in the first century each cityeven those as large as Rome, Ephesus, or Antiochhad only a single congregation. If there were problems among people in the congregation, they had to work things out. We should be glad of this. If there had been several congregations in Corinth we would not have the practical correction of Paulís letters to the church in that city. The incestuous man would simply have gone elsewhere. The ones whose gifts were being shouted down could simply have formed their own congregation. Thank God that this did not happen, or we wouldnít have instruction about how to get along in the church.
On an even grander scale we see the results of throw-away churches. We now have a smorgasbord of churches. There are churches to meet any choice of correct or incorrect doctrine. If somebody doesnít like that one church preaches about the sinfulness of homosexual or adulterous acts, they can find a church that accepts people in those sins without requiring repentance or renunciation. Do you want to watch church on television? Throw away fellowship and stay at home. Baptism in rose petals? Itís out there. Any time somebody finds that Bible preaching is becoming uncomfortable, they can find a church that preaches to their itching ears (2 Tim 4:3) rather than against their sin.
Related to the throw-away church is the throw-away Bible. One of the doctrines gaining prominence today is the idea that Jesus intended one thing for his church, but Paul came along and distorted it beyond recognition. (This in spite of the approval of Paulís teaching by the other apostlesGal 2:9.) This theory is a convenient way to ignore all of Paulís letters (and therefore the New Testament teaching against homosexual acts, among other things). The logical extension of this theory is to reject everything except the specific words of Jesus. Let us go back to the ďRed-LetterĒ Bibles. But then we have to figure out if John 3:16 is the words of Jesus or merely Johnís commentary. After all, who wants to throw away the best known verse in the New Testament?
Most of us, however, are as guilty as anyone about following a throw-away Bible. Oh, we may not condense it literally, as did the Readerís Digest. We may even say we believe the whole thing. But wherein we choose to continue to disregard the teachings of the Bible in favor of our own sin, we throw away that part of the Bible.
America has become a throw-away society. Letís not carry that over to the church. Letís keep the church, and the word that establishes it.