Tuesday, August 30, 2011
William Woodson Tribute: "Our People"
I met Brother William Woodson formally while preaching in Kentucky several years ago. I had listened to him during various lectureships and meetings. I had read many of his writings and certainly had a good knowledge of his influence in the brotherhood for decades. Over the past 8 years I have come to know him as a mentor and a close friend.
It would be impossible to state in this brief article, my appreciation for all that I have learned from this gentleman from Walker County. But there is one phrase, that in my mind, has meant a great deal to me over the past few years. It is a phrase I have often heard him use in the pulpit or in a Bible class. I have read it many of his writings.
Brother Woodson affectionately liked to refer to the church, as "Our People." I think this concept, though somewhat simplistic, is actually in reality quite profound and extremely fascinating. Here are a few reasons why:
1. It proclaims our identity as God's people, the church. Brother Woodson understood what it meant to be a child of God. He knew everything there was to know about various groups within the world's concept of "Christendom." He knew the difference between Biblical, undenominational Christianity, and everything else. There is a great distinction between "our people", of which Brother Woodson himself became a part, and the rest of the people. This phrase explained how much it meant to him to be a member of the church that belongs to Christ.
2. It couples us with our predecessors. I have always respected William Woodson a great deal for his loyalty to great leaders of the past. He found out what made the people of the restoration great. He not only defended their efforts, but he sought to imitate their greatness and pass it down to the rest of us. He knew more about the development of the churches of Christ then perhaps anyone else living. The more he studied, the more he was convinced that those who helped us find our way back to the New Testament church had it exactly right.
3. It states that we are brethren. It was more important for William Woodson to be in God's family, than to be in any other family, group, or organization. He truly loved his brothers and sisters in Christ with a love that surpasses any other. I believe that he served his whole life in the church out of sincere humility, and also with tremendous pride. His humility was found in his diligent service and labor of love to his Creator and the church. His pride was the confidence of his own salvation, and the blessings he knew were his because of the knowledge of the truth.
I love William Woodson dearly. He was, and still is, and will always be, a great friend. I love him most for his love for God and the church. I could think of no greater honor than to carry on an understanding of this wonderful phrase, and be identified along with him throughout eternity, as one of "Our People."
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." ~ 1 John 3:14