Above all else#9. “Out with the old…?”

Above all else#9. “Out with the old…?”

Two men were walking down a road and came upon a fence blocking the road. The first thought it unnecessary and said it should be removed. The second man, being wiser, said that he would not allow the fence to be removed until the first man found out why it was put there in the first place.

That, of course, is G. K. Chesterton’s advice (in story form) to those wanting to reform that which is already in place. Known as: “Chesterton’s Fence” the logic is universal, and easily applied to the church.

As one generation is replaced by the next, it is natural for the old ways to be questioned. What young person doesn’t think it is better that old ideas be replaced with new ones? I did!

It is never wise to dismiss and discard their ideas. Instead, the wisdom is keeping everyone together in the ongoing movement of the congregation. When everyone is treated as equal partners in the household of God, it is easier to convince would-be reformers that those who see things differently are equally invested in the congregation’s progress.

Despite best efforts to encourage mutual patience, there will be some who will seek greener pastures. But what matters most is that a spirit of love and unity was always seen to be present.

My guess is that not much has changed in the order of service at the Morningside church of Christ since 1968. Things have been ‘tweaked’ now and again, but it has a happy default setting to which it inevitably returns.

The important question is: “Is the Lord glorified as we seek to worship Him in spirit and in truth?” If there are ‘fences’ that are now hindering this goal, then they are best removed.

However, lest we doom ourselves to swapping one hindrance for another, we would be wise to encourage each other to find out why the ‘fence’ was put there in the first place.

John Staiger


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