by Robert F. Turner (excerpt from Stuff about Things, 1976, p. 56)
I like that Mark Twain story about not loaning his axe because he had to use it to eat his soup—or something like that. He said if he didn’t want to do a thing, one excuse was as good as another. Reminds me of some of my brethren’s reasons for not coming to worship, for not wanting to study some Bible subjects, for not wanting to be my brethren in the first place.
Some years ago, while preaching for a large and stable church in Phoenix, Arizona, I was driving down an Avenue and spotted a much-delinquent member walking in the park. I stopped to inquire about his frequent absence, and he looked at me with the greatest innocence and asked, “Are we still having church down there?”
With the current conservative/liberal struggle a hot issue, I very often talk with brethren who know the truth very well and know exactly how they ought to stand for things that have Bible authority but who are too weak spiritually to weather the criticism and name-calling a faithful Christian must endure. One brother who finally gave in to popular demand and left a sound church for one he freely acknowledged was in error, explained his move by saying, “Well, I just don’t like the songbooks we have been using.” Selah!
Then there was the lady who had attended many of our services and was well acquainted with such distinctive features as baptism, a cappella singing, weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, etc. She seemed to like my preaching (ahem!), so I visited her and insisted that she obey the gospel to become a member of the Lord’s church. She said she would like to do this, but—(and here she became very disturbed)—there was a great problem in her life that kept her from doing so. Thinking perhaps she had shot her husband or something like that, I bravely offered my assistance in clearing up this problem. Finally she confided, “I just can’t stand grape juice.” So, back to the study!
Elders and preachers really have an unfair advantage over most excuse-makers. We have been hearing them for so many years we have most of them catalogued and classified and can even tell when one is “coming on.” I am very seldom surprised by the answers I receive to gospel solicitations except from a rare honest man who said, “I think I had rather go to Hell.” I fear he “had his druthers!”