Chapter 3: Priestly Growing Pains
“As you come to Him, the Living Stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him, you also, like living stones, are being built into a house for the Spirit, to be a Holy Priesthood.”
“To Him Who loves us and frees us from our sins by His blood, and has made us to be a Kingdom and Priests — to serve His God and Father, to Him be Glory and Power for ever and ever. Amen!”
LET me continue to share with you some thoughts about “Church” and “meetings” in the Kingdom of our Lord, Jesus. I’ve found that one of the toughest things for Believers to do is to figure out how to gather together under the personal oversight of Jesus Christ. How do we gather around HIM, the Master Teacher, rather than simply go through rituals for Him (primarily as an audience) on a set day of the week?
Since most of us were raised up on religious ritual, spiritual gimmicks, and an unbiblical clergy/laity system, learning how to meet together under the Lordship and Teaching of Jesus is just plain awkward sometimes! Though you may think that I’m “nuking a gopher hole,” this potential awkwardness is a subject I’ll need to address again and again in this time together.
I want to communicate to you here in a practical way so that you will know how to handle the difficulties that arise when you step from ritual to Reality. It’s risky! As we grow into Christ’s Image individually, and corporately as a Church, some sticky challenges will come up that are never a problem in an institution. A clumsy man sitting in a chair doesn’t appear to be clumsy…until he stands up and tries to function. Then it becomes very apparent. It is the same in the Church. As long as everything is pre‑programmed to ensure that it is “successful” and “spiritual,” we will never realize how unspiritual we really are! We will then depart this life thinking that we are something that we are not.
“Meetings” in His Kingdom are to be times when God Himself joins us as we gather with Him, and each person functions as a Priest, a vessel of His Love and His Word. As we rise up to take our rightful inheritance as a “Kingdom of Priests,” rather than remain an audience, or “laity,” we will realize our instabilities and our limitations in a new way! Then we will be able to grow as God desires. In view of this, it is the longing of my heart, and the motivation of this subject having been brought before you now, to prepare you for these clumsy moments with some practical encouragements. Don’t allow these early stumblings to discourage you and prompt you to return to a “safer,” more comfortable, “risk‑free” environment.
Why does it matter? Why can’t we just “leave well enough alone” and back‑pat everything that calls itself “Christian?” To reiterate a bit, an environment in which men and women remain infants for twenty years or more, and hidden sin runs rampant, is in opposition to God’s Will. I think that’s a pretty good reason to ask some questions and make some changes, if we love Jesus.
Oh how it is worth the “growing pains” to lean forward into God’s Purposes for your life and church! Stay with me through what could be construed as hard to bear in certain instances. I really don’t mean to be obnoxious! Let me give you a glimpse of what is on the other shore, and I’m hopeful that you’ll be glad that you were patient with me!
I’d like to address first the heart and practical issues of the small gatherings of God’s Family, and later on we’ll discuss large gatherings (“daily in public and from house to house”), and even multi‑city gatherings.
19 A simple, honest survey of the prevailing christian world indicates that most “congregations” consist primarily of a dedicated “core group,” surrounded by an environment of those who simply attend a “serve‑us” or three. The majority, it is reported, enjoy a potluck dinner occasionally, live a life of relative prayerlessness, regular sin, and worldly priorities. Relationships are usually shallow at best. Most, if put on a lie detector machine, would not be able to say they have any real relationship with Jesus (other than a theoretical one that they’ve read about). They would not be able to say, with honesty, that they have “rivers of Alive water flowing from their inner man,” or that they have ever truly “tasted the Powers of the Coming Age.” They do not have a “peace that transcends understanding” or “joy inexpressible and full of Glory.” This is the “point A” that most are starting at — missing the very basics of having been born into, and living in, the New Covenant as a child of God!
God’s desire, as we have seen, is a People that are together “crushing satan under their feet,” “praying without ceasing,” living in “fellowship with Him Who is from the Beginning” and “having all things in common.” (Heb.3:12‑14; Acts 2:36‑47; Eph.5:18; 1Pet.1:8; 1Jn.1:1‑8; Jn.17:3, 7:38; Heb.6:4‑5; Rom.16:20; Eph.3:10; Mat.16:18; 1Jn.2:14; Jn.6:51; Mat.4:4; 1Jn.3:8, 5:18; Eph.6:10‑18, 5:18; Rom.12:11; Jn.14:30; Jas.4:17; 1Jn.3:3‑10; Mat.6:33, 13:44‑46; Lk.14:33, 9:57‑62.)
May God, along with our cooperation, hasten the Journey towards “point B” for the multitudes! For the sake of the Testimony of His Son. Back