|Vol. 12 No. 8 August 2010||
Two dictionary definitions in particular pertain to the way the noun, “cause,” is used within this article. They are: “a reason for an action or condition” and “a principle or movement militantly defended or supported.” In the phrase “cause of Christ,” herein, the emphasis and focus is a reason for subsequent activity manifesting itself as militant Christianity. In other words, “the cause of Christ” in these paragraphs refers to the church for which Jesus Christ died to establish, purchasing it with His blood (Acts 20:28), over which He is the Head (Colossians 1:18) and for which He will return to take back with Him to heaven (John 14:1-3). However, the usage of the phrase “the cause of Christ” is not a ho hum reference merely to a collection of Christians in some community, but it ought to be an allusion to a vibrant, active living organism.
It is not unusual for the New Testament to use various words to represent the concept of the New Testament church, emphasizing different characteristics of it. Jesus used the words “church” and “kingdom” interchangeably (Matthew 16:18-19). The apostle Paul used the words “church” and “body” to refer to the same thing (Ephesians 1:22-23). Likewise, he used the words “house” (1 Timothy 3:15), “temple” (1 Corinthians 3:15) and ‘wife’ or “bride” (Ephesians 5:22-32; cf. Revelation 22:17) to emphasize traits of the Lord’s church.
Very much in the sense of “the cause of Christ,” Luke records the words of the apostle Paul referring to the church as “the way.” “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14). The word, “way,” means, “a road” or “a route,” literally or figuratively. Consequently, when referring to the Lord’s church, “the way” represents the high, spiritual road or route to a home in heaven forever with God.
Sometimes, the Greek word for “way” is also translated as “highway” or “journey”; if we are Christians, we are on the highway to heaven, and we are on a journey. Consider these uses of the “the way” in keeping with the emphasis intended herein: “the way of salvation (Acts 16:17), “the way of God” (Acts 18:26), “the way of truth” (2 Peter 2:2) and “the way of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:21). Who can forget the resounding words of Jesus Christ Himself along these lines: “… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6)?
All of the foregoing was noted to herald loudly in your ears that “the cause of Christ,” otherwise observed in Scripture as “the church” (Acts 2:47) or “the way,” is more important than any other institution, material or immaterial. The cause of Christ is more important than any earthly pursuit and any mortal idea or opinion. The “cause of Christ” ought to be the catalyst for the consistent and perpetual animation of every child of God. Everything a Christian thinks, does or says ought to conform to his or her high regard for “the cause of Christ.”
Therefore, New Testament Scripture teaches that Christians ought to suffer personal grievances if necessary rather than risking injury to the Lord’s church (“the cause of Christ”). “Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7; see also 1 Peter 3:19-23).
There are a number of additional ways by which “the cause of Christ” can be harmed, sometimes irreparably. Internal, congregational conflict results in division between brethren, resulting in a reproach against “the cause of Christ” in the non-Christian community (1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 11:18; 12:25). We must be careful that we are not the ones “by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (2 Peter 2:2).
“The cause of Christ” is not a social club or other earthly organization over which its members ought to compete for control. Jesus Christ is the Head of His church, of which Christians are members, and the New Testament comprises the bylaws for it. No subject over which Christians must come to a decision respecting inconsequential details ought to disrupt the harmony, focus and direction of “the cause of Christ.” The color of carpet, the location of a structure in which to assemble for worship and certainly the dimwitted mentality of rule or ruin are not sufficient matters for which anyone should risk injuring “the cause of Christ.”
If every Christian had as his or her motivation the single-minded thrust in life to further “the cause of Christ” before himself or herself and any earthbound interest, we would enthusiastically embrace Christianity more fully and faithfully than we ever have before, using ourselves up in and for “the cause of Christ.” We would do our Christianity in the spirit of James 2:14-26 and the doers of faith recorded in Hebrews 11. Further, we would quickly marginalize impenitent, sinful Christians who would tear the fabric of fellowship with divisiveness (Titus 3:10-11) or persistent sin (John 8:34; 1 John 3:8).
The “cause of Christ” or the Lord’s church is paramount in importance because it was devised first in the mind of God from eternity (Ephesians 3:10-11), and because Jesus purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28). It is the body of the saved (Acts 2:47), and our Lord is coming back for it and none other (John 14:1-3). How important is “the cause of Christ” to you?