It was no less than God who gave Christ the preeminence in all matters religious. “He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).
It is ours to be obedient to this heavenly act and ascribe unto Christ the first place in everything. It is not accidental that God placed Him there. It is tragic today that some would deprive Him of that place.
“Would men do that?” you may ask.
We reply: “They are doing it all the time.”
Take the word of Christ, for instance. It is to be given first place, but so many today will not regard it so. A faithful pursuit of personal desire, and an emphasized regard for their own preferences is usually the order of religion today.
How often have you heard it said, “Go to the church of your choice,” or something like that? Do you ever hear anyone say much about God’s choice in regard to churches? Why is not the choice of Jesus Christ ever considered? Is His choice first respected in your religion, or is His choice entirely disregarded?
But does Jesus have a choice in the matter of churches? Surely, He does, and His choice is more pronounced than that of any person you know. Listen: “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matt. 15:13-14).
Again, “Husbands love your wives as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). This plainly shows that Christ was very decided about that matter. He had as much choice about the church that He expects a man to have toward his wife.
A man does not have a right to the church of his own choice while he expects the Lord to save him. When Jesus was in the world, He did not consider His own choice or pleasure. “Christ pleased not Himself,” we read, “…he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29).
Men have the Divine order exactly reversed. They have made churches of their choice, not of God’s desire. They have put names on those churches entirely foreign to any expressed choice of God. They heap unto themselves teachers after their own lusts—or choice—and practice an altered “mode” of baptism because they prefer it. They have broken away from the Lord’s Day for observing the Lord’s Supper—the first day of the week (Acts 20:7)—and now choose to eat it whenever the notion strikes them just right.
So, today religion has become largely a matter of choice with human individuals, with the Divine choice disregarded. And their choices differ so much that we have an unearthly multitude of churches, names, creeds, doctrines, and methods. It brings home a forceful question each should answer: “Are my religion, the church to which I belong, the life I live, the name I wear in religion, the way I worship, and the doctrine I believe all a matter of my own choice, or is it the expressed choice of God and specified in His word?” Where is it specified?
Can you say with Jesus, “I do always those things that please him,” or must you say it is a matter of your own choice?
You belong to the church of whose choice?