The great American cowboy; he’s still out there doing what he’s always done. Working hard from dawn to dusk. The land is his home; the herd is his livelihood; and his horse is still his best and most dependable friend. Now, granted, there are times today when he has several hundred horses’ worth of pulling power underneath him as he sits high and hardy and cruises down a gravel road, but that’s about all that’s changed over the last hundred years.
And as he rides the range and surveys his surroundings – whether during the daylight when the vast expanses of beautiful countryside completely captivate him, or during the evening when the vast expanse of sparkling stars embedded in a deep sea of ebony darkness seem to embrace and envelop him – he cannot help but understand that there is an all-powerful and wise Creator who is responsible for it all. His sentiments echo those of faithful men of God from ages old and pages past such as David, Isaiah, and the apostle Paul in such places as Psalms 8 and 19, Isaiah 40:12-26, and Romans 1:18-21. In fact, due to the infinite and inarguable evidence he experiences daily all around him, he also agrees heartily with David and Paul that a man would have to be either purposely blind or a complete fool to deny that God was indeed behind it all – that it was all just the result of some cosmic accident or mistake (Psalm 14:1; Romans 1:22). To him such nonsense denies all common sense and horse sense! For he knows what he sees, and therefore seeks to know He Who created and continues to control it all from spinning hopelessly out of control.
Therefore he scrupulously studies his bible during his every spare minute, whether on the range or in the bunkhouse. He believes with all his heart and soul that the bible alone is this Creator God’s divinely-inspired, unexpiring and exclusive word, just exactly as it claims to be (Psalm 119:89; II Tim. 3:12-4:4; II Peter 1:16-21). And because of this God’s great love for Him – a love so great and overwhelming that He would send His only begotten Son to die for him (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-11) – this cowboy’s heart’s desire is to continually study the wonder-filled word of this wonderful God in order to learn all he possibly can about the God He loves so much in return, and hopes to spend eternity with in heaven. He studies constantly and consistently to show himself approved, a worker who needs not to be ashamed (II Timothy 2:15), adding to his biblical knowledge daily so that he is not deceived by those who twist and pervert the Scriptures to their own destruction, as well as the destruction of those they are able to lead away from the truth of God’s holy word (Psalm 19:11-17; II Peter 1:2-11, 2:1-3, and 3:14-18).
Having scoured the Scriptures for credible information about this incredible, all powerful and all-loving God, where and when would He then go, to truly, reverently, obediently and biblically worship Him as He desires?
It is first and foremost, a foregone conclusion to him from his studies, that he simply could not thus worship his God as He desires out on the range by himself. He has read in clear and unmistakable black and white terms precisely how the early church completely devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship amongst other things (Acts 2:42), coming together as a church to break bread and give of their means on the first day of every week (I Corinthians 11:17-12:27, 16:1-2; Acts 20:7), and how the early Christians were not to forsake the aforementioned Sunday worship assembly under any circumstances (Hebrews 10:19-31). How could he do any less than His Lord commands? He couldn’t! And so he seeks a church to worship with which fully, faithfully, and obediently carries out these biblical responses to a loving God’s commandments, understanding that such Sunday, corporate worship is not an option for himself or any of those like him who only want to be the kind of worshippers the Father seeks, who worship in spirit (with the right attitude) and truth (according to what the bible says – John 17:17) (John 4:23-24).
Seeing as how he believes that within the pages of this sacred text from His all-powerful God He has placed everything we need for life and godliness (II Peter 1:3), he could never attend a church not found named or contained within said pages. That of course would eliminate such man-made and man-named divisions or denominations such as the Catholic Church, Baptist Church, Lutheran Church, and many others. Whatever God called the church that the apostles and faithful first-century Christians worked and worshipped within would be more than good enough for him to be sure, as he only sought to walk by the same, one, soul-saving faith as they did (II Corinthians 5:7-9; Romans 10:17, 16:16; Ephesians 4:4-6; Jude 3).
And as to the modern day denomination so recently designed and designated as the “ Cowboy Church,” well, he surely understands that true Christian worship could simply NEVER be about him or any of his peers – especially if it came to them actually taking precedence over the Christ! To this old but well-studied cowboy, that would border on insanity if not blasphemy! It could never be more about them than the Christ, anymore than it could ever be about the doctors and farmers, bikers and bankers, or housewives and former hookers who were also there alongside him in the same Sunday morning assembly of the saints to worship the Lord of glory! He can’t even begin to imagine such a thing as a “doctor church,” “farmer church,” “biker church,” or “housewife church,” let alone some of the others! He understands that roping, riding, and rodeo are no more a part of biblical spirit and truth worship than operating, loan-financing, dish washing or bed-making! He has read, understood, and therefore committed Himself to the absolute and overall Lordship and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in such passages as Colossians 1:15-18, which, speaking of Jesus, says:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Having done thus, how could he ever, in good conscience – let alone biblical obedience – ever worship somewhere where human cowboys were elevated over the eternal Savior – even in name?!? He could only seek to ever attend and participate in a worship service where the Savior’s name, the name above all names, the only name in which we are to operate and wherein alone there is salvation, was exalted to its proper place of ultimate pre-eminence (Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:15-18, 3:17; Acts 4:12). Thus fully committed, for him personally, he could only truly worship with one of the still faithful to the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16) congregations of “the churches of Christ” as he had clearly seen and read about in Scripture (Romans 16:16-18).
Admittedly though, he almost inadvertently chuckles to himself as he thinks about a recently reported (and therefore apparently found newsworthy) story in a brotherhood newspaper, about how some congregation in California conducted corporate worship services in some old western movie set for some reason. He shakes his head in bumfuzzled bewilderment because this humble, “horse sense” old cowboy knows from his own in-depth study of the sacred text, that the real essence and enjoyment of true spirit and truth worship is never even minutely enhanced by any outward environmental embellishments, but is only truly and totally relished and embellished by a full internal reverence and relationship!
What about you? If you haven’t studied the divinely-delivered and inspired text enough yet to understand these essential elements of sacred and acceptable spirit and truth worship, we’d love to help. Let’s sit down and study together, shall we? God’s word is waiting. And probably so is an old cowboy somewhere, who wants you to be beside him in spirit and truth worship next Lord’s day just as his God decreed. So get along little doggie, and let’s study together, shall we?