The Job I Don’t Like

“What have you been doing lately?” someone asks. Well, does it look like I have been absent from my blog desk for a year? I smile as I reply to the question. I have been busy lately, writing, writing, writing. Writing for someone else but not for my blog.

And I have been busy corresponding, arguing over the Internet, discussing with a man who is perhaps known to some of you, perhaps a friend also to some of you. And in deference to your love and friendship for that man, I am not going to mention his name. I love this man’s soul too, and regardless of our disagreement doctrinally, he is still my brother. He has often told his readers what he thinks about the true church. That leaves in my mind no doubt nor misunderstanding that he has left our group. He castigated me one time because I am too church-of-Christsy, something that I have always denied. Told him I am just a Bible-believer. But he would not be convinced. And I have found his difficulty to understand me verrrrry difficult to understand.

The man has a noble ancestry. His grandfather had spent his lifetime braving the wilds of Africa, to bring the gospel to that unlit nook of the world. His grandmother, daughter of the missionary family who came with his grandfather, was a brave soul too. These both will have great rewards in heaven, I am sure. His father had embraced the anti-orphan home controversy, but, unlike the noisiest and the most argumentative among them in the “anti” persuasion (Fanning Yater Tant, Roy Cogdill, Wallace Little and the rest of them), he had chosen to keep his beliefs private and never went out on the warpath to castigate his brethren for innovating the Herald of Truth and the Orphans Homes. I admire his father as I do admire Homer Hailey.

The man, however, is of a different stuff. I have discovered that too late. He is self-willed, strong-willed, and out-of-this-world-willed. When I point out to him his mistakes (he has lots when it comes to baptism, salvation, Holy Spirit, the church, hell, eternal punishment), he views that as a challenge to his ability as a great expounder of all truths. He is an educated man. And what he does to the issues is a fact that goes against the grain of one of my sacred assumptions: that educated men will understand logic. This man does not.

If brother Mike Hildreth will have his way, the man needs to be exposed for all the false doctrines that he mouths and expounds over the Internet, in forums where people of his likes have offered him sacred invitations. I will always allow Mike Hildreth the benefit and enjoyment in his chosen task of exposing false teachers. Me? Like that infamous atheist-philosopher whose name has just been lost due to my Alzheimer’s, I am inclined to mouth this, and this is not a false doctrine among writers: “I may not agree with everything you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.”

My mindfulness over church purity is put on leash by the wisdom of that parable of the tares. I have much faith in Jesus, and I have faith that the angels will make no mistake in their God-given task of uprooting every tare they could find in the spiritual wheat fields of the world when the day of uprooting comes, which shall be on the Day of Judgment. And so our present ante-Judgment job is not to cut the tares among the churches of Christ, nor to consign false teachers and false brethren to hell (no human has such power) but to rebuke, correct, reprove with all long-suffering. Rebuke till kingdom come.

Frankly, it is a job I don’t like. Try saying the thing that challenges the sacred icons in our brotherhood, and you will be hounded by some of your brethren throughout the rest of your life. Try to propose an innovation by pumping out an original which you see the Bible teaches, and someone will jump up and down and label you a divider of churches if not a trouble-maker.

Someone calls it a thankless job. Thanks for the suggestion.

Frankly, I feel tired of this job. It has given my wife sleepless nights and often put my life on the line. Feel tired is the right term. I feel tired of this earth too. Who likes to remain here? You can have it all—riches, including its troubles and its cares. I want to leave.

But frankly, I am not getting out of this job. For this job runs the gamut of everything that is weak and human and needy in me. It is grace that imposes on me something that the grace Giver does not. When I first enlisted, I accepted it without question, barely knowing my Maker and what He expects of me. It is a life with its growing pains, but one filled with great expectations. I may want to leave but I am not getting down yet. Not yet until He calls me.

Someone has suggested to me to write my rebukes with a disclaimer. Well, question: Will they listen if I do?

I have decided I would write my rebukes with many apologies. Here goes:

I apologize for hurting your feelings, you guys whom I have reproved, rebuked and corrected. It is not my purpose to hurt your feelings. I apologize for giving you sleepless nights; I apologize because I think your sleepless nights matter more than my sleepless nights, because your hurts matter more than my hurts.

But while I apologize, I will simply not stop telling you the truth that often needs to be retold, even on deaf ears. While we may be characters who do not suffer long, we are urged to stick to this job with all long-suffering. I understand that to mean forever. I understand that too to have begun from the watery grave to the earth grave.

After all, we believe we have a righteous Judge who will always judge us fairly. We may be wrong in some of our judgments and criticisms, and the Lord will even that.

And what about that man whom I argued with on the Internet? He chose to clamp down. After his five emails on the issue and my four replies, he cut me off. It is not good for his soul, but I have done my job.


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