As I write, I’m preparing a speech to give in the morning about the rebellious spirit versus the spirit of meekness. It’s the spirit of Saul versus the spirit of David. It’s the spirit of the older brother versus that of the prodigal son once he had come to himself. It’s the distinction between the two thieves on either side of the cross.
As I traveled to this area via Delta Airlines last week, I was bumped to the comfort-plus zone of the plane—because the flight was completely full and someone had to sit there. I was happy to comply. As I sat down, the man beside me asked if I was headed home or headed out and I explained that my daughter and I were headed to speak at a purity seminar for teen girls. He asked me where and I told him the name of the church where we were speaking.
“No kidding,” he said. “I am a ‘church of Christ’, too.”
Well I knew that no person is a “church of Christ” since a church of Christ is, by definition, a group of people belonging to Jesus. But, without commenting, I continued the conversation. He told me where he worships and named several ministers, present and past, that have worked with his congregation.
I noticed that the lady in the row in front of us, who was in first class had moved the curtain that separated her from us and was intently listening to our conversation. She politely waited for a pause in our conversation in which she could interject and she excitedly put in…
“I overheard you say ‘_____________ church of Christ’. That’s where I was baptized!”
I said “Wow! We might have a whole assembly here in a minute.” I was thinking how great God is to put us there together. I’d really been wishing to be sitting with my daughter, who was, coincidentally, on the same flight. But she was back on row seventeen. Instead of sitting with my daughter, here I was with two spiritual blood relatives. God was letting the three of us fly together, once, before the great flight when the trumpet blows. The fellow in the seat beside me was taking a photo of the woman in first class to text to his neighbor at home, who was her uncle. They’d talked about the congregation, the day she was baptized and made all kinds of connections about mutual friends. It’s a small world.
The next few moments replaced my excitement with, first, anger and then pity. The flight crew member came to my new friend in first class even before the cabin door was closed. He asked her what she’d like to drink. It was the answer to the ensuing conversation that made me sad for her.
“Hmmm…I think I’ll just have a Coke Zero. We’re on our way home from New Orleans and we’ve had far too much to drink.”
The handsome flight attendant responded “Oh…you’ve been down in the quarter.”
“(Euphemism) …Yeah! It was New Orleans, after all.”
“I gotcha….Gotcha! Let me get you that Coke Zero”
Sometimes we say it all in short conversations. We have golden chances every day to encourage and inspire. We even are handed multiple moments each day in which we may distinguish ourselves as His people in meek ways. But unless and until we become convicted about morality—unless our story of Christianity includes more than our baptisms and church attendance, we will turn opportunities for edification into reproach for the body.
When I was a child, it was unheard of for professing members of the Lord’s body to be openly boasting of partying hard and “drinking far too much.” While I’m sure there were some who were slaves to the sin of drunkenness, it was something of which self-respecting (God-respecting) Christians were ashamed. But for this woman to loudly say this to a non-Christian in front of a Christian woman (me) whom she’d just heard describe a purity day at which she’d done all she could to encourage young ladies to abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages?! All traces of spiritual sobriety had, at least for the moment, been replaced with conformity to a world that weakens the cause of our Lord on this earth. (https://westhuntsville.org/topics/alcohol/…I hope you can listen.).
At this point, someone from row seventeen walked up and said “ Your daughter said you might want to sit on row seventeen and I could trade with you.” So, with the rare opportunity to take a short flight in the seat beside Hannah, I left the “comfort-plus” zone, which had become increasingly UN-comfortable, anyway. No amount of legroom was a comfort when the vigorous conversation about the Lord’s church was transformed into an enthusiastic announcement about the fun of revelry in the New Orleans French Quarter.
I understand that there may be readers who find the observations here old-fashioned. The word “judgmental” may also be used, by some, to describe this post. May I suggest, though, that it is not the Word of God that’s changed in the past few decades. Abstaining from the appearance of evil (I Thessalonians 5:22) would surely preclude boasting about reveling and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21).
It’s with great sadness that I contemplate the possibility that some may crucify afresh the Son of God while putting him to an open shame (Heb. 6:6). I’m sure He was not glorified by the conversation that occurred through the first-class curtain on that flight last Friday. To think that someone could speak of that moment when she put on the Lord in baptism in the same breath as advertising the excessive amount of alcohol she’d consumed while partying, was just not in my comfort-plus zone. May God help us to understand the sanctification required of His people. May we live in the shadow of the cross.