A Homecoming of the Heart

Written by Drew Baker
CGU Monthly Digital Newsletter
August, 2022 Edition
The unfortunate consensus in the US demands that our leaders come across as having all the answers. Whether it’s politicians or preachers, we expect them to have perfect wisdom even if we know it’s an impossible ask. I can’t imagine a politician getting elected on a platform of humility and a willingness to learn even from political opponents. When it comes to preaching, we tend to expect more answers than questions from our pulpits. “Give us this day our daily truth, lead us not into contemplation, and deliver us from mystery.” In such a culture, is it any surprise that division is so ubiquitous? When opinions must be presented as certainties, there is no room for healthy dialogue. When I must prove my competence by making others appear incompetent, I preclude the possibility of unity. When pride prevails, division is inevitable.Perhaps this is why Jesus insists that his followers must be people of humility. This teaching is particularly prevalent in the second half of Mark. Throughout the first half of Mark, discipleship appears to be a pathway to power and glory. But after breaking the news that he is leading them to the cross (Mark 8:31), Jesus leads them through an intensive course on humility. The course includes lectures, object lessons, and the ultimate demonstration of humility. Topics include denying self (8:34-35), the last being first (9:35; 10:31), welcoming children (9:37; 10:14), receiving the Kingdom as children (10:15), and greatness taking the form of servanthood (10:42-44). All these lessons take place as Jesus is drawing nearer to the cross, culminating in the words, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (10:45) Mark’s Gospel implies that Jesus utters these words near the Jordan, perhaps in view of the very place he was baptized--nearly the lowest place on the face of the Earth. Even the geography of the narrative seems to be assisting in the lesson of humility. Jesus makes it quite clear, his followers must be people of humility.When early Restorationists call for a return to the New Testament for the sake of unity, true unity proves elusive. We catch glimpses of it when Barton Stone affirms the activity of the Holy Spirit at Cane Ridge–recognizing a unity that transcends his intellect. We see it when Alexander Campbell acknowledges, “It is the image of Christ the Christian looks for and loves,” thus conceding a Spiritual unity not dependent upon doctrinal perfection. Unfortunately, these whispers of unity are difficult to hear over the roaring demands for intellectual and liturgical conformity. The water in every stream of the Restoration Movement is murky because of the mud slinging and all-out battles that have taken place up-river. And even now, we muddy the waters for those below.What we need is not just a return to the New Testament, but a return to Jesus. Not a doctrinal return, but a homecoming of the heart. We need to remember that we are students of the Rabbi. We need to observe his ways and follow. Instead of jockeying for doctrinal dominance, we must seek to serve. We should view every human as a potential teacher–whether she be an uneducated child or an esteemed scholar. We need to sit at the feet of Jesus to hear him lovingly rebuke us again:“You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” (Mark 10:42-45, MSG)The Restoration Movement has much to offer the broader Christian community and to the world. But until we learn to sit and eat at the same table with our own family, I’m afraid the Restoration plea will go largely unnoticed. When we come to the Lord’s table, take the bread, take the cup, and don’t forget the humble pie. We can’t be a family without it. 
Drew Baker resides in Lewisville, NC with his wife Sarah, son Jude, and daughter Rowan. Drew developed a love of the outdoors in his country home near Abilene, TX. He has had the privilege to live in North Carolina for six years now. Drew received a Doctor of Ministry, Divinity/Ministry, MDIV, and a BS, Youth and Family Ministry all from Abilene Christian University. Drew works with New Story Church and will be teaching New Testament for ACU Online this fall. He enjoys hiking, rock-climbing, kayaking, skiing, cycling, photography, and most other outdoor activities. When trapped indoors, he enjoys reading, writing, and Blue Bell ice cream.


Spokane: Combined Church Service

Click Here or the Picture to watch this inspiring 5-minute video   
Henry Holub (Northside Church of Christ - COC) says "We are 99.85% the same and that .15% is 6 Strings and a Piece of Balsa Wood." He said this in the context of the Church of Christ and the Christian Church in Spokane, Washington coming together for a combined service and continued collaboration. This is a beautiful story of friendship faith, unity, and collaboration! Henry Holub (Northside Church of Christ - COC) and Troy Burns (Sunrise Church of Christ - Independent Christian Church) are breaking down the walls between our tribes in Spokane, WA. Henry and Troy started by building a friendship, and the rest is history in the making. The two congregations had a successful combined Sunday church service earlier this year and recently preached at each other's congregations on August 7, 2022. As you will hear in this interview with Misty Cate, they have more plans to collaborate - working together to reach Spokane with the gospel of Jesus! You can watch the full interview on the CGU Youtube Channel
K. Rex Butts is a partner and regular contributor to Common Grounds Unity. Rex is the author of Gospel Portraits. You can read the book review from Bobby Valentine (CLICK HERE). In this review, Bobby writes:Rex is well qualified to guide us in thinking about faithful living, which is the end game of faithful painting (Bible reading). God's artwork is seen through Rex's time in the furnace of heartache, the sweat of academic engagement, and in pastoral ministry. Rex blends these together very effectively, resulting in an engaging book aimed at disciples living at the crossroads of the Mission of God.  Rex is the minister at Newark Church of Christ in Newark, DE. Click the photo below to find his book on Amazon.                                                 
Resources and Events
The CGU Monthly Newsletter Team is planning to add a Resource and Event section later in 2022. Each month we will highlight a resource or event from the various streams of the Stone Campbell Movement and/or beyond. We will also provide a link to a resource page providing information about publications, universities/educational institutions, podcasts, YouTube channels, events, and much more. We desire to be a connecting platform uniting the streams of our movement. To have your resource added to the list please email Ben Brewster and John Teal at benbrewster318@gmail.com and john@commongroundsunity.org. All submissions are subject to review and approval.               

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