Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Association


The Association of People For Breathing. I don't have many arguments against inhaling or exhaling. Even when President Clinton said he didn't inhale, I was still for it; just in a different way than how he didn't inhale. I could find common ground and really sympathize with this one issue group. Not breathing is a bummer. But I still wouldn't join. You've probably noticed that big groups like associations or conventions exist all over the place. I think the thing is: power in numbers. "My group is for it or against it" might get further than "I'm for it or against it."

Is it ever wrong to associate? I'm a member of a homeowner's association. If I thought it was wrong, I would leave it. Now that would mean I'd have to find somewhere else to live, but I would leave if I thought this association was wrong. If there was one thing in the rules and regulations that violated Scripture, I would disassociate myself. The Bible says a lot on this matter of associations. For the most part, God did not allow Israel to affiliate with anyone. When she did, she got in big trouble. The bad consequences of association could be the theme of the entire Old Testament. The New Testament regularly communicates this same theme, except with the church. Large chunks of New Testament text prohibit wrong associations.

Consider just one of many places in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." You might ask, where should churches draw the line on associating? How about where Scripture draws it? Just like He did in the Old Testament (Psalm 1:1; 101; Lev. 10:10; etc.), God filled the New Testament with teaching on separation (Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17,18; 1 Corinthians 5; Galatians 1:6-9; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 3:10, 11; Hebrews 13:13; 2 John 1:7-11).

1 Corinthians 15:33 teaches us that evil companions ("communications") corrupt good behavior ("manners"). Bad associations rub off on us. When we associate with the wrong people, we encourage their wrong activities. 2 Thessalonians 3 reminds us that people can be shamed when we exclude them, for the loving purpose of changing them. God wants distinctions kept between His people and the world (Lev. 10:10; Rom. 12:2).

Would you associate with a group involved with physical abuse of people? Would you associate with those who would stain the reputation of your children? Would you send either of these groups money? If we have good reason not to join those groups, then why would we join other associations that are doing the same thing, except spiritually. They spiritually abuse people and they stain the reputation of God. Should a church join and then send support to a group with individual organizations or other churches that disobey the teachings of Scripture? If you are a Southern Baptist, some of your offerings are sent to a cooperative program that supports seminaries where teachers deny fundamental doctrines of Scripture. Is that the right thing to do? That's why many churches have stayed separate from the Southern Baptist and American Baptist Conventions. But what about a group like the American Association of Christian Schools? These types of groups bring you or your church into associations with churches that violate Scriptural doctrine and practice. Does God approve of that association? Member schools send money to the Association. In principle, how is this any different than being a part of the Southern Baptist Convention?

Why do any of these groups exist in the first place? Do churches need these associations? If they were necessary, why aren't they in the Bible? If they are so good, why not form more of them and then join more as well?

2 comments:

Pastor Bobby Mitchell said...

How 'bout you and I start an Association of the Non-Associating?

I've met some "known-associates," but we can be "non-associates."

*My commenting on this blog in no way implies my association with it, it's owner, or the world wide web . . .*

Kent Brandenburg said...

Laughing. Now writing. Thanks Pastor Mitchell. I just got back from preaching somewhere, a church with which I associate. I would be careful associating with this blog. Lots of consequences come to mind.