Jesus taught that moth, rust and robbers do their irresistible work upon our things (Mat. 6:19-21). Anyone who has restored automobiles or houses knows the persistent challenge they face in keeping up with decay and loss in those projects. In weather-torn Colorado, the elements can speed up the deterioration and destruction of items and especially those which are not protecting whether through painting, sealing, or whatever is needed to preserve them.
On a trip to the Lexington, Kentucky, area on this day in 2013, I visited a part of the world rife with restoration sites. While I was there to speak on the Cane Ridge Lectureship, the Friday of that program is devoted to going to various sites associated with church history connected with the “Restoration Movement.” Stephen Besson, a physician and a skillful church historian who has led these tours since the death of author Everett Donaldson, led us up to Mays Lick, Kentucky, to the site of the Campbell-McCalla debate and the graveyard of restoration leader Walter Scott. The first time I was there, we went to the site of the Cane Ridge meeting house as well as the Lexington Cemetery. That day, we saw the graves of Barton Stone, Raccoon John Smith, J.W. McGarvey, and others. There is so much church history in that area that tourers can fill their day for many years with different restoration sites. Once, when driving through Lexington, I found the house of Moses Lard.
The men I mention were intellectual and spiritual giants, men whose plea was not to be denominational or to form their own sect but to get people back to the Bible. Their efforts paved the way for thousands to leave religious division and manmade doctrine in favor of New Testament Christianity. That goal is ever-worthy of pursuit! It is the only viable basis of religious unity, getting back to the Bible for faith and practice.
Dr. Besson pointed out something while we were at Mays Lick. The church in that area is numerically weak. Back in the division between churches of Christ and the Christian Church at the beginning of the twentieth century, most of the congregations went with the digression. Thus, though there are some very strong congregations in the area, there are relatively few. There are nine counties in Kentucky without a church of Christ.
The church is either sparse or non-existent in many of the cities we read about in the New Testament–Jerusalem, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Corinth, Rome, and others. That seems unfathomable when we think of their august beginnings, yet it is not that unusual. In our repeated trips to Israel, Kathy and I marvel at the fact that there is one known congregation, relatively small and in Nazareth. It is difficult to keep passing along to new generations the faith, reverence, and respect for the inspiration of Scripture. Whether prosperity, education, worldliness, or another factor, people can begin to put their trust in something else while losing faith in God’s Word. When that happens, the restoration ideal is endangered.
Our job is to keep the idea of simple, New Testament Christianity not only in our hearts but instill it into the minds of the next generation. We must take that plea into our communities and workplaces. When we do, we will be placing our trust in the only source of power there is–God and His Word!