In a Lampstand
Living God’s way as a “Lampstand,” as a church, will have far different outworkings than a meeting-based form of religion could. In God’s Plan there will be both “Fellowship” (intertwined lives), and an occasional need for “disFellowship.” Count on it. God sets it up for us that way to test and equip our hearts. And when it does need to happen, recall the Scriptures specified “don’t eat with them, don’t associate with them, and expel them from your midst.” DisFellowship can only be a breaking off of deeply intertwined lives. In a church as God Intends, all are “members of one another” with relationships as vibrant and alive as a mother with her daughter, or as two loving siblings. That is simply Jesus’ Plan. In religious institutions consisting of weekly ceremonies, or meetings, speeches, talent shows, programs, org charts, pie chart budgets, buildings, calendar-driven events, and rituals, all ruled over and presided over by a hired holy man or boss-man, there can never be the gift of disFellowship. There can be no true, daily fellowship “from the least to the greatest” when people “attend each other” on a prescribed day. Also, of course, leaven “filling the batch” is automatic in a meeting-based, cultural religious expression. One of God’s most powerful Tools for assisting stubborn, weak, confused humans in becoming like the Son of God is totally lost when there is little or no Koinonia, Fellowship.
We can’t step out of the Dance—if there never was any Music or Dancing!
In normal culturalized christendom, if someone without Fellowship was asked to leave, there would be no deep, broken heart—and very likely no passionate repentance. You already know what most folks do when asked to leave a meeting-based group, whether in a home or religious structure. They just wander on down the road to the next institution, “join” and happily blend in. They will “attend” that instead, and happily donate some likely small amount of their money, as required for membership. There is little turmoil in their hearts, or in those whom they are no longer with. Excommunication, or just “quitting,” are both painless and fruitless. Leaving an attendance-based organization is unlikely to create any long term issues for either party, since changing “churches” of this kind is not much more painful than “changing pajamas.”
What FATHER has Designed, Ordained, Commanded, and Enabled—is daily intimacy of Life amongst all its “members.” THAT is His Bride, His Church that “the gates of Hell cannot overcome.” When any person is the beneficiary of LIFE, fullness of love, and quality of daily, intimate, Christ-centered relationships for them and their family, they will KNOW when it is lost to them.
Most people on earth can’t name four people they would entrust their children to for a weekend, let alone scores and hundreds who would die for them or their children—as is true in His Life where there is true “Church” and Koinonia. Without repentance, the loss for wounding Head and Body is staggering. But then, so is the Blessing for humbling ourselves to build His Way and obey His Commands, Together. And when we don’t have a number of others near us to share Life with, we will lay down our lives for all around us, come what may. That too is deeply honored by God.
If anyone has experienced His Provision in the Body, surrounded by daily truth and sustenance and supply of every kind, they will notice when it is removed, beyond question. If they have experienced a Safety net catching and supporting them in Jesus’ love and wisdom when issues fall on their heads on this fallen planet, they will know it when they have forfeited that Life by their stubborn shallowness or rebellion.
When “the storms come” in life, whether issues of child rearing, or marriage, or desperate finance, or a thousand other things—they will know what is lost to them in those seasons. If a man “calls himself a brother” and intentionally and repeatedly and lovelessly chooses to “crucify Jesus afresh”—and subsequently Koinonia is Biblically removed from them—he can never ignore that loss the rest of his earthly life.
The Good News is that those who are truly Twice-Born and Regenerate, with the Spirit of Christ as the “down payment,” these will soften and turn with help from Above in the Beauty of this Gift, this Tool of Father, disKoinonia. Just as a mother’s glance or look of disappointment can melt a child’s heart who has experienced her love, so also God’s Command and Gift of daily Koinonia in His Churches has amazing power to provide help in changing stubborn and foolish followers of Jesus. THAT’S what happened with the man discussed in 1Cor. 5. God is good.