The fact that the man speaking was supposedly a gospel preacher made his words that much more incredible. His solution to dwindling attendance and a seemingly unpopular preacher in a small-town congregation near his home was to build a really nice (expensive) new church building there and hire him to be the new preacher. All he needed was several area churches to fund the new building and his salary, and he could almost guarantee immediate church growth. He got the idea from a large denomination.
He was not the first brother to think that spiritual problems can be cured by material means. Paul tried to open the eyes of the church at Corinth, saying, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ… For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3:1,3). The Corinthians believed that who performed their baptism was of greater significance than the fact that they had been born by the Spirit at baptism into the one body (1 Cor. 1:10-17; 12:13).
The cure for the problems at Corinth was to think spiritually about spiritual problems, even about all of life. They needed to acknowledge and submit to the authority of Christ. So Paul wrote, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Individually following His example and collectively doing what He taught us will lead to solving every spiritual problem we face. We must each strive to live so that we can say, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
J. Brooks Boyd Jr.
Livingston church of Christ