Ernest J. Parish, Dereham, formerly of Bolivia
MANY OF US MAY FEEL VERY INCOMPETENT to enter into controversy on the delicate subject of Church truth, a matter which occupies a good deal of the apostolic writings. It is really a great blessing that there is liberty of expression in our assembly oral and written ministry, provided it is left to the individual Christian to be guided by the Holy Spirit of God, in his Christian development and service. One aspect that docs seem to need a greater emphasis however, is that of loyalty to our local church. The mention of this from time to time in the magazine editorials, has surely called forth a hearty 'Amen' from many readers.
If the assembly is our spiritual home, we should put our heart into its activities, share feelingly in its problems, and help to create that happy atmosphere which we all long to enjoy. It is not right to neglect our own home to look after someone else's, nor does it seem consistent to serve where you cannot worship, or worship where you cannot serve.
Convictions may be held and exercised in love and grace, but it is a great pity if we want to enjoy liberty at the expense of loyalty. In some homes there is a feeling of frustration through a lack of appreciation on the part of the children, who grumble about the food, but do little or nothing to help in its preparation. In others, if one inquires after a certain member of the family, one is told in a rather dispirited tone of voice, 'Oh yes, he comes in to eat and sleep, but never helps, and otherwise we hardly see him'. There are brethren and sisters in our gatherings of whom perhaps the same could be said.
On the other hand there are those whose faithfulness is proverbial, whose loyalty is unquestionable, and whose reliability is an inspiration. To them the presence of the Lord at the prayer meeting is as much expected as at the Lord's Supper, and they understand fellowship to be something much more solid than just a normal attendance at one meeting a week. They are the salt of our assemblies, real home-makers, whereas the others are more like visitors. If we really feel that the assembly is the nearest expression to the New Testament teaching of what a local church should be, we shall love all Christians however much we might differ, but we will, nevertheless, feel that the place which has the chief claim on our hearty co-operation and activity is our own spiritual home. Loyalty counts for much.