It seems to be popular to make comments about the old church of Christ attitudes as though the last generation knew little of grace and faith and focused only on obedience, exact obedience. I have made a few of those comments myself and can point to sermon outlines from 35 years ago where I endeavored to change such attitudes. However, when the comments become disparaging and self-serving (look how much better I am), then perhaps it is time to consider.
They grew up in tough economic times, faced tough spiritual battles to be allowed to exercise their faith in the way God commanded, and they did not express emotions as readily as today’s generations. They did not talk a lot about God’s grace for that was God’s business. Their business was to obey God.
That they did understand that obedience must proceed from faithful trust and was founded on God’s grace can best be understood by the songs they sang:
“True hearted whole hearted, faithful and loyal…..
“My faith looks up to thee……
“Looking to thee from day to day, trusting thy grace along the way….Sure of thy soul redeeming love….
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
“I know whom I have believed….
“He will give me grace and glory…where he leads me I will follow, I’ll go with him, with him all the way
“Faith is the victory….
“Is thy heart right with God?
“To Christ be loyal and be true in noble service prove your faith and your fidelity, the fervor of your love
“What a friend we have in Jesus….
“Purer in heart O God….
Take time to be holy….
“Only in thee….trusting, I’m cleansed from ev’ry stain, thou art my only plea….
And it was in those days and by one of those men that “Lord I believe” was written.
And, the list could go on and on.
Because some treated service like a checklist and may not have expressed as much heart as some do today, please do not mark them all as empty. In fact, if a checklist religion was the spiritual ceiling for some, “who art thou that judges the servant of another?” (Rom 14). More people should fear minding God’s business about God’s servants!
And, if all the expression of heart and trust and faith and grace today makes one careless toward obedience, then how is that one any better before God?
These were our parents and grandparents, our spiritual fathers in the faith. Most knew more about the grace of God than many today who spout fancy words, but they just tended to their own business of serving faithfully.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness (Rom 6:17-18).