Well, I have been reading some of the "Brotherhood Papers" again and I came across something that I have been intending to ask you about and just never did get around to it.
In this one article a man was talking about how it wasn't too good for preachers to get people to move from another congregation to theirs just so they can build up the numbers where they are. Well I don't have any trouble with that but when he went on to say that a person certainly has a right to move from one place and "may seek to be a member of another congregation" like Paul did over there in Acts 9:26, I just sort of did a double take. He makes it sound just like Paul went up to Jerusalem and applied for membership in the Jerusalem Church of Christ. I have had people tell me a number of times that Paul tried to "place his membership" there in Jerusalem and that seems to be what this man is saying. I never did think that is what it says. What do you think about that Charles? This man goes on to talk about it being a lot different for a person to seek membership in another congregation and a Preacher trying to get members of other congregations to leave their place and come with him
I went over and asked Joe Bob Farnsworthy what he thought about that and he just sort of laughed and said we would just have to study the matter a little. Well, he got out those books he has and looked up the word that is translated join there in Acts 9:26 and it literally means to stick or to glue, but figuratively it means to join one's self to, to keep company with, or to associate with. Well that makes sense to me. It seems to me that Paul wanted to associate with these people and they were afraid of him and didn't want to have anything to do with him. That don't sound like placing membership or moving membership or seeking membership in anything. Am I right about that Charles or have I missed the whole point?
You know, we found out that that same word was used when Philip was told to go "join" himself to the chariot. Well, did he have to place or seek membership with the chariot or even with the Eunuch for that matter? Or did he just have to go up and introduce himself and start a conversation? It just seems to me that the last one makes the most sense. If you and some more people were standing on the street talking and I came up and tried to join in the conversation wouldn't I be "assaying to join" myself to that group? Now Charles, you be real honest with me and tell me if I am off on the wrong track about this.
We also noticed that the prodigal son "joined himself" to a citizen of another country and we just kind of wondered if he applied for membership in some swine keepers association. And Peter told Cornelius he knew it was unlawful for a Jew to "keep company" (same Greek word again) with a Gentile. Does that mean that Peter tried to become a member or Cornelius' family? Or maybe did he seek to be a member of the Gentile race? Seems to me he was just pointing out that a Jew ordinarily wouldn't have anything to do with a Gentile.
It seems to me that the whole thing is sort of like a family. I was born into Momma and Daddy's family but I didn't have to do something else to be a member and I don't have to place membership when I go back over to visit for a few days. And that reminds me, over there in the first chapter of Galatians when Paul said he only stayed in Jerusalem for fifteen days wasn't he talking about the same time as Acts 9:26? That would sure be something if everyone did that because if you were going to be out of town for a couple of weeks, you would have to move your membership.
Well, Joe Bob said that the key to the whole thing is understanding that there is nothing in God' plan that can be joined like you would join the Lions club and I sort of think he is right about that. If people would understand there isn't supposed to be a Church institution that can be joined, but only God's family that people are born into, then this whole problem would go away.
I told Joe Bob I was going to write you about this and he said to give you his best and he sure would like to know what you have to say about it. It sure is clear that somebody is way off base about this membership thing and if it is us we want to know where our thinking is wrong. So, until I hear from you again, I remain
Your faithful friend, Sam Hill, Jr.