Response to "Behold the Church! But Let It Be the Church, Not Individualism!"
Regarding what is written below...She is right in many ways, but also is missing something GLORIOUS! The Jewish system was characterized in a city by “a place of prayer along the river,” OR, if they were fortunate in a city, what the New Testament would call “a Lampstand.” What she’s describing is a pleasant and appropriate alternative to the institution, the Saul system—of course! However, it seems she is not aware of the UNBELIEVABLE (and Biblically authentic) LAMPSTAND—a local assembly, contending as One man: “We being many are ONE.” A church really CAN exist, other than as 1) an institution or 2) drifting individuals, in what the Bible never advocates—”an invisible church.” There IS no such thing in the Scriptures. It is a concession for individuals, but not God’s heart’s desire. SO, maybe she was just enjoying the “place along the River,” and the other topic just wasn’t necessary in the note she was writing. Or PERHAPS she hasn’t yet considered what a local Assembly under Jesus’ Living Leadership (no clergy/laity, no programs, no building, no set days and times, no assigned “teams” for anything, etc.) CAN BE, and MUST BE! The RICHES of what she is MISSING, by her description is sad. She said, “Sometimes weeks go by, and we barely touch base.”
God said, “Admonish one another DAILY, or you WILL be hardened and deceived by sin.” And the deception includes, “NO, God, I WON’T be hardened and deceived. Daily personal input from others into my life is not necessary for ME. You’re wrong, God! I’m above that.” But I also understand her predicament—if just her goals were right. I hope they are. A good part of her letter is quite precious. The Feast of Booths has not sufficiently become manifest for her to know much better or do much differently, probably. Anyway... thought I’d better pass the reminder along that a Lampstand in a town or city, that “CANNOT BE HIDDEN” (not invisible, and individuals that float) is the Passion of Jesus’ heart. About a hundred Scriptures would “Amen” that—as well as a TON of people I know here, and in many other places!
Been waiting till I had a little time for reflection before I responded to this letter. Whenever someone asks me what I think about being a part of the organized church, I feel rather like I’m in danger of telling someone to jump off a tall building—and I don’t know if the Lord has already placed a net beneath them. But then I’m reminded that HE is our ‘safety net,’ and that He is always totally dependable. So here goes... I’m leaping with you!
...I’ll be honest. Such freedom is a scary thing. And we DO need one another. But as we move away from the structured organization that purports to be ‘the church,’ and unto Christ ALONE, we will find ourselves—just now and then, here and there—recognizing other ‘kindred souls’ who are also being disenfranchised from the system. By the Spirit, we are knit together with them. Not in any religious setting or structure... but simply as friends... brethren... true spiritual soul mates in Christ Jesus. We are not a structure, a system, or an organization of people. We are the spiritual body of Christ, being formed in this world to do His work by His Spirit.
Let me give you a practical, real life example of how this works. I love camping and horseback riding. A couple of years ago, around the campfire (others present were mostly ‘unbelievers,’) I was asked a simple question—why didn’t I go to church? (Funny thing is, these folks knew I was a believer, though I don’t go around hollering ‘Praise the Lord!’ or sporting ‘Honk if you love Jesus’ bumper stickers on my truck. : ) I began to speak, and felt the Spirit of the Lord being quickened in/through me. I realized one particular woman there was absolutely riveted to my words. I spoke briefly, and when another professing Christian began taking offense, I let the subject drop. (You can never argue another person into the truth—it must be revealed to them, or they’ll not be able to receive it (HIM). On the other hand, if a person really WANTS the truth, you will not be able to PREVENT THEM from receiving it. That would be a failure of God—and He never fails! So we learn to relax.
I did, however, know to pray for the woman who had been paying such rapt attention. The ‘opportunity arose’ for us to go riding as a twosome the next day. She had more questions. By the grace of Christ within me, I had more answers, and the Spirit of God was as palpable as water between us. She was set free from the spirit of religious intimidation that day, by the Truth Who is Jesus Christ. We were knit together—and have become very close friends. Often we just ‘do things’ together—but sometimes we stop to pray, or sing songs in the car as we travel here and there—or share a Scripture that was meaningful—or give Godly advice, comfort or encouragement to one another. Whether we’re consciously acknowledging Jesus Christ or not, we’re both aware that our REAL LIVES are found together in Him... He is our only real connection. She is, in the most real possible way, my sister. I’d die for her—and I know she’d do the same for me.
But guess what? I have SEVERAL friends like this! None of them came to be my friend through my own plans, or because we went to church together... but only because the LORD brought us together (and whatsoever the Lord has joined...) We gather as the Spirit prompts for times of prayer... or to watch a ‘chick flick’ at someone’s house... or just for the pleasure of being together. Sometimes weeks go by, and we barely touch base. Then all of a sudden, we’re hungry to get together. This week we gathered at one home to watch a movie, and spent all evening sharing and praying instead. We felt the work wasn’t completed... so we decided to gather here at my house tomorrow morning. I haven’t told anyone that I intend to fast until after our fellowship time is through—but I’d bet anything that most of them are going to be fasting, as well. We are remarkably ‘in synch’ with the Spirit of God, and therefore, with one another. All of us are completely in love with everyone else. And it has ALL been accomplished by the Lord.
There is so much more to this. The easy comfort of confessing our sins to one another, to ‘clear the pipeline’ when we sense it’s clogged up. The remarkably strong love we have for one another’s families, and the praying this engenders. The way distance and time fail to fade our affection for one another... The real ‘knit together’ sense we have, and the experience of God’s Spirit moving among us, whether we’re physically together or apart. It’s all so simple, and yet incredibly profound.
Suffice it to say: Christ IS building His church... and the gates of hell are NOT prevailing against her. Hallelujah!
Follow your Heart, dear sister. God is going to bless and lead you in the days ahead.
Loving you in Him,