It is not unusual these days to see a bumper sticker with some message indicating that the owner is an alumnus of some college, or member of a fraternal order or church group. Recently I saw one indicating that the driver of the car was an "ex-Ranger," probably a past member of the Rangers baseball club. This triggered a thought about the possibility of forming an association, complete with bumper sticker, of those people who used to be members of the Lord's church and calling it the "Ex-Christian Association." Surely there are enough people around who qualify.
We could start a local chapter from past membership directories by compiling a list of members who no longer attend any congregation. While initial membership might be small, the association could eventually become enormous as the idea spreads nationwide and past members of the church of Christ apply for their own bumper sticker. We might even get some liberal, promoting, sponsoring church to computerize the list and do mail-outs to enroll members. (Don't laugh there are computerized lists among sponsoring churches right now of various things: overseas evangelists, college Bible Chairs and Bible Chair Directors, cities in which no "congregation of the church of Christ" exists, etc.). We might even get someone to put together a catalog with a choice of bumper stickers, promotional items, iron-on emblems and such like, similar to the cataloged published featuring items for the bus ministry (suckers by the case, balloons by the gross, idea pamphlets for membership drives, etc.). All sorts of ideas abound.
Of course, there should be a charter membership. This would consist of the first congregational drop-outs to form a club. Honorary president could be Demas (cf. 2 Timothy 4:9).
Anyone can apply for membership who has been a member of some congregation in the past but who no longer attends. There are no dues and no meetings (this would defeat the nature of the association.). The only qualification for becoming an "Ex-Christian" will be a concise statement explaining why one no longer wants to be a Christian. To simplify matters, a list of excuses is given and one may merely list a number which corresponds with your excuse when you apply for membership. The list includes:
One thing must be made clear, however. All benefits and enjoyments derived from this association are limited to this world only. Nothing should be expected once this life is over. There are no promises, no future rewards, no expectation beyond what you can get here and now. Therefore the goal of this association is "eat, drink and be merry: for tomorrow you die." Each who applies for membership should enter it with this thought in mind and only after a great deal of deliberation. It is true that most people join the association by default (that is, they just drift into it without really planning it) and this makes your membership valid. But true devotees of this club will get the most from it if you understand the alternatives and live worldly with a vengeance. Some few members still have a guilty conscience about quitting the Lord's church and this greatly inhibits their earthly pleasure. To get the most from this association, one must really kill his conscience and learn to enjoy. Remember, we only pass this way once and we must live it with gusto! A sensitive conscience can really keep you from enjoying this association.
In fact, those who have an overly active conscience and who will not be satisfied with this world only should not join this "Ex-Christian Association." It is recommended that you go back and associate with other Christians where you will be happy and where you feel at home. After all, if you can't see the advantage of happiness here-and-now instead of happiness for eternity, you, along with Moses, Abraham and all those others who look for some "future city," don't belong with us. You'll probably be in that minority group called the "church of Christ" and expect to go to heaven when you die. As for the rest, send in for your application if you want a bumper sticker. You don't have to have one to be a member, you understand. Just fluff up your pillow on Sunday morning and go back to sleep. We'll see you at the Judgment Day.
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