Skilled antique hunters will peruse countless stores and garage sales in the quest to find a unique collectible. Fishermen will proudly mount and display a rarely-caught twelve pound large mouth bass, but will usually catch and release a more common two pound bass. Likewise, deer hunters are more excited to display a fourteen point rack than a five point. For card collectors, a rare baseball card is of much greater value than one in circulation among a wide number of collectors. In general, people value things that are unique, not things that are common.
Several years ago, a man came to the church building where I was preaching at the time and informed me that he was a member of a congregation with 750 regularly in attendance. He also left me a couple of his congregation’s bulletins. These bulletins told proudly of “joining with all of Longview’s teens & parents [evidently including members of denominations, LM] to pray intently.” Another event was described as follows: “Saturday, the ‘party’ begins at 7:02 PM at Pine Tree Football Stadium. Bring all of your friends to the free concert and powerful message. This could be an awesome chance for your friends to begin a desire for more of Christ in their life!” There were other such activities described throughout the bulletins. These types of ecumenical events have been commonplace in denominations for years now, and are no longer rare even among congregations identifying themselves as “churches of Christ.”
When is uniqueness bad? Judging by prevalent attitudes and accompanying actions, it must be in religion. It seems that in virtually every realm but this, people desire and cling to that which is unique. However, in religion people want something that is as homogenized and blended in with the rest of the world as possible. Brethren apparently want to avoid being tagged as “religious nuts” at all costs, so they happily join with the denominations in their anti-Biblical antics. They want the church of which they are members to be completely indistinguishable from any denomination. Some are even taking it so far as to consider themselves in spiritual fellowship with Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and others who vocally deny the very Deity of Jesus Christ.
The church which Jesus Christ built is most certainly unique—it has its own worship, it holds to one doctrine, it is the only church that offers salvation, and it is the only church that honors Jesus Christ. A church fails to honor Jesus if it is not unique; that is, if it becomes like the rest of the world (Jas. 4:4). We are told to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). If a special shiny coin in the midst of a collection of coins becomes dull and scratched, it has lost some of its specialness. As part of the only church bought with the blood of Jesus Christ, our light needs to shine; even though it is a light the world generally will not receive (John 1:5). Let us be proud to be members of a unique institution, clearly distinct from any other.