Reject: to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc.
Today, as I sat in prayer consulting the Lord about The Freaked Out Movement and The Fellowship C.H.U.R.C.H., seeking His guidance and instruction through a sense of peace. I got an answer! Now before you go and think I’m like that “charismatic folk” down the road who thinks God speaks to him, hear me out. I believe Gods’ Word is preserved in the eternal words of Jesus Christ and the writings of the Apostles. I believe through those writings and critical thinking in line with those teachings- we can “hear God”. Amen?
So…as I sat there thinking about Christ’s body, the Church, and what we (as the body of Christ) have been, are, and will be throughout the ages- tears came to my eyes. (Get to know me and you will know this isn’t my norm).
What do you and your congregation call the church? What holds you all together?
Last week, I was in a conversation with a man at a local coffee shop and he asked me “what church do you go to”. I began to explain to him that I am the pastor of a local missional church called The Fellowship C.H.U.R.C.H.. As I explained more he replied “oh so you’re a Bible study, just call yourself that”. I left this conversation a bit disheartened and did not agree. Our small group is not a Bible study, we do far more than exegete the Bible, we discuss life based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and we seek ways to apply that in the world.
What is a “church”? Biblically defined the term “church” comes from the Greek term ekklesia which means “called out ones” and is represented by the assembly of believers. Jesus Christ said His kingdom is “not of this world (John 18:36)”, which meant those in darkness (under the Law of sin and death) were being called into the Light (freedom by His grace) (John 1:5). It was these “called out ones” who were later sent into the world (John 17). If you take the time to read through the book of Acts you can learn how this assembly of called out ones operated.
So what is the situation with the social club, “dog and pony show” that many erroneously refer to as the “church” today? Where did this come from? If you sit down and do a historical study of Christianity all the way back to the first century – (a great writing about the first century church is – The Early Christians in Their Own Words by Eberhardt Arnold) – you will arrive at a time of change that occurred during the reign of Constantine. The Edict of Milan (AD 313) took an underground persecuted movement that was “not of this world” and created an empire out of it. It was all of a sudden “acceptable”, “cool”, and so forth to be a Christian, ironically a lot of the dedicated and devoted Christ-followers most likely were martyred under the Diocletian persecution of AD 303 which left plenty of room for half-hearted converts.
So…does your “church” have more in common with the persecuted, underground, Christ-followers who “devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 3:42)” or the “coo”, “accepted”, “popular” crown mentality of the empire? Come on, you know- a big building, a lot of ‘fake smiles and hugs’, dare I mention “peace be unto you” handshakes!
Most people know this, that is why every so often a “church” will pop up with a new slogan like “the church has left the building”, or a popular fad of saying “we don’t go to church, we are the church”, but sure enough the institution is very good as making the people complacent again. Get back in line!
Sunday after Sunday, a new host of people show up to hear about how they must live more like Jesus, they must repent and confess, and that “Jesus died for your sins”- an individual obsession with salvation that has nothing to do with the Biblical gospel. As Eberhardt Arnold once noted, “…the very thought of encouraging the sort of selfish solitude whereby people seek their own private peace by shutting out the noise and rush of public life around them is anathema”.
Brotherhoods like the Bruderhof and underground seminaries of the like formed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Finkenwalde Seminary, rise up amidst the nonsense to foster true images of what the ‘kingdom of God’ looks like lived out. I can speak personally, and I believe corporately, when I say that we being ‘carnal-minded’ forget often that the healthiest “church” exists on the margins. It was the Monks around AD 320 who saw the issue with ‘Imperial Christianity’ and decided the true Christian ideals were better lived ‘in exile’. More recently the rise of ‘New Monasticism’ help foster the view that Christianity exists on the margins of the empire.
Many within the institution will label this “emergent” or seek to keep their members busy with new books clubs and popular “Christian” fads. I personally have witnessed this first hand- the dismissal of critical thinking to continue the survival of the institution. It is sad that as a “student” of the institution but never willing to let go of critical thinking and encouraged by the Scriptures, the hypocrisy is evident from many within the institution that they would probably much rather me “not be a Christian” today. As we seek to expose, engage, and reform the body of Christ to what it is called to be.
So…as I sat today and felt “rebuked” by the Lord, for yet again falling victim to my ‘carnal mind’ and the ‘ways of the empire’ in regards to “the Church”- I “heard the Spirit” or rather “see through Scripture” that God rejects the “church” that is not moving in His name, in His power, in His Truth, and most importantly- His Spirit!
MIKE…as Christians, little- Christ’s you are to go out into the world. Stop trying to have your own buildings and shows (aka Sunday services), go into the world. Go into their “services”, “buildings”, etc…and seek out all those in darkness (blind to the Truth and knowledge of God). Bring them into the LIGHT!
Wow! I guess we can’t say God doesn’t speak today, huh?
My brethren..those that are of the ‘body of Christ’ aka the Church…we are “called out” to be a kingdom people- we represent a kingdom that is of the Spirit- not of this world. It’s not a far away land, an after-life, but a Spiritual reality. In Revelation chapters 21-22, we read about those in the gates who have “washed their robes” (His righteousness) and have access to the “water of life” (Revelation 22:1, 17) and the “tree of life which gives leaves that are the healing of the nations”. I firmly believe the gospel of covenant relationship with God to be the tree of life, therefore we have those leaves (the knowledge of God) which is the healing of the nations. I pray this reality will continue to be manifested in each of us, that we become a community of Berean-minded people (critical thinkers who search and study the Scriptures & seek to prove all things) being led by the Spirit of God to help others grow in the grace and knowledge of God (become disciples of Jesus’ teachings).
Blessings in Christ,