“What Kind of Drugstore Is This?”
Edward O. Bragwell, Jr.
I saw a cartoon posted in a brother’s drug store with the caption saying in effect: “What do you mean you don’t have nuts and bolts? What kind of drug store is this?” Our society expects more from a drug store than just drugs. The sign may say “DRUG STORE,” but we expect much more. It is rare, indeed, to find a drug store that is just that—a drug store.
Churches are like that. The sign may say “Church,” but we expect more. If it offers no more than what “church” suggests, then we ask, “What kind of church is this?”
“What do you mean you don’t have a basketball team? What kind of church is this?” It seems never to occur to some that the church is not in the recreation business. A church that meets for worship, preaches the gospel, teaches its members and cares for its own needy is just not with it. Never mind that the Bible gives not the slightest hint that the church may be in the recreational business. Folks still insist that the church may be in the recreational business. Folks still insist that the church provide it for young and old.
“What do you mean you don’t own a hospital or a nursing home? What kind of church is this?” It seems that folks expect the church to care for the medical needs of folks. The New Testament church was not in that kind of business. Of course, the church may pay the medical bill of a needy member that is a legitimate charge of the church. It may pay the electric bill or gas bill of such a one. But that is a far cry from the church going into the electric, gas, or hospital business.
“What do you mean you don’t a general welfare fund? What kind of a church is this?” In a metropolitan area, calls come from bus stations, motels, phone booths, etc. asking for financial help. Occasionally, as we are able, we help some from our pocket. Sometimes we refer them to various social and civic agencies that are in that kind of business. It is extremely difficult to make folks understand that, as the Lord’s church, we are not in the general hand out business. As a church, we care for our own needy members. We sometimes help brethren elsewhere. We may at times assist another congregation with its needy when they are unable to do so themselves (cf. Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30). We, as a Church, limit benevolence to Christians, not because we feel that others are undeserving, or that we are better than others—but because the Bible gives no authority for church benevolence to the world at large.
“What do you mean you don’t have a kitchen? What kind of church is this?” Nowadays a church without a kitchen must be either too poor or too backwards for our times. But the Bible says, “If any man hunger, let him eat at home (I Cor. 11:34; cf. Vs. 22). It is not that we do not like to eat. You can look at most of us and know that! But it is a matter of respecting authority.
It may be rare to find a drug store that just sells drugs. It is even more rare to find a church that does just what a church should do. A drug store that sells nuts and bolts, CB’s or cameras will probably prosper, suffering no damage from its innovations. But, it will still be more than just a drug store, no matter what the sign may say. Yet, a church that offers more than a church should (under Bible authority) is a more serious matter. It will have to answer to God for its innovation. It, too, will be more than a church regardless of what the sign may say.