Do all things without murmurings and disputings:…
The relation of a Church to its vicinity is that of —
I. SALT TO THE LAND. A Church owes it to the peoples around to destroy prejudice and to dispose men's minds to the reception of the truth. You live in an age hard to please, etc.; then, be blameless and harmless. The Saviour urged the same duty (Matthew 5:13). Salt was used for manure, to destroy weeds and insects, and to moisten and nourish the soil. Christian characters must remove erroneous notions respecting Christ and His kingdom, awaken attention, and keep from barrenness the field of Christian effort. How?
1. By the irreproachable character of the individual members of a Church. Every true Christian professes to be in training for perfect holiness. Consistency, therefore, requires that he should not allow sin. And men may claim thus much from professors. Now, if any professor have the reputation of being an unkind husband, a disobedient child, a tyrannical master, or a slothful servant, a busybody, a cheat, he creates prejudices and closes men's hearts against the gospel. Call not these little things. Dead flies cause the ointment to stink, especially to those who want to condemn the ointment. A mote in the Christian's eye attracts more attention than a beam in the worldling's.
2. By the peace, harmony, and brotherly love of a Church. Diversities will be found, but as in music, distinct melodies breathed by different voices constitute full harmony. And a neighbourhood knows whether a Church meets in bitterness or in love (Ecclesiastes 10:20). The stormy wind of strife cannot be confined, nor the balmy breeze of charity.
3. By the inviting aspect of the public worship of a Church.
(1) The building should accord in style and dimensions with the character and population of a neighbourhood. It should say, "Come in: there is room."(2) Sufficient light and air, and all that can make them attractive should be provided. The theatre and gin shop are attractive.
(3) The mode of worship, too, is of importance — the best music, reading, preaching.
4. By Churches forming benevolent institutions in their neighbourhood, and having their representatives in institutions of a more general character: such as hospitals, societies for the relief of the poor, day schools, etc. The multitude cannot appreciate the man who is a martyr to religious opinions, but they can self-denial and kindness.
II. LIGHT TO THE WORLD.
1. By providing and sustaining an efficient ministry, adapted to the people, and receiving the Churches' sympathy, support, and cooperation. By this means a minister is advertised. Let a Church give its ministry a good character, and let it be really good, and hearers will be gathered and souls saved.
2. By every member ministering as he hath received the gift. Is one member qualified for business? Let him serve tables. Is another capable of instructing children? Let him teach the young. Is another gifted with conversational powers? Let him visit, etc. Let every one do something. The deficiency of power in our Churches is the loss of single talents.
3. By cherishing and exercising in all things a spirit worthy of its vocation. Appear as God's children, separate in character and conduct from the world.
III. AS SEPARATE STARS IN A CONSTELLATION, MANY GOLDEN CANDLESTICKS IN ONE HOLY PLACE, exhibiting real and essential unity. How is this to be developed?
1. By ministers and Churches guarding most carefully each other's reputation. Let not the unsuccessful be jealous of the prosperous, or the prosperous be cold towards the less favoured. Let none be ready to take up an evil report against his neighbour.
2. By cooperation for common ends. Some objects are pursued most successfully alone; but in circulation of the Scriptures, educational movements, etc., there should be association. To the tents of your tribe for fellowship, etc., but to the open camp for home and foreign missions. This will make our tents as separate dwelling places of one spiritual army.
3. By the universal expression of pleasure in the prosperity of the successful, and of regret in the adversity of the unprosperous (1 Corinthians 12:14-27).
4. By the contribution of assistance to all that need it (Ephesians 4:4-16).
Parallel VersesKJV: Do all things without murmurings and disputings: