Sunday, May 30, 2010

EKKLESIA? OR JUST "CHURCH"? Part Four of Four.

EKKLESIA—Part Four.
A. Brother
©2010 Narrowgate Publishing


          Specific instances of our need to ‘play church’ instead of being the “called out people of God that gather together”:

1.      In regard to places of worship, and our need to build cathedrals and sanctuaries, Jesus replied clearly to the Samaritan woman’s concern about where she should worship: 

          “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…a time is coming when and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.  God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and truth.”                                                                 --John 4:21-24

            So how impressed is God with our cathedrals and temples and sanctuaries?      Not the slightest bit.  We build them for ourselves, not for Him.  He is to be worshipped in Spirit, and by our obedience to the truth.  That is true worship, not gathering together with pomp and ceremony, with flags flying and music blaring, in our temples built by human hands.  This mountain, this Jerusalem, with its temples and synagogues, is not the new pattern Christ brought to us.  That’s why the New Testament believers didn’t build them.
          Why should God be impressed with disobedience?

2.      In our churches we honor the most attractive, the most talented, and the most impressive among us.  We give special consideration to these, with the encouragement to strive to these positions of honor, that allow them to have much influence over others.  Yet this flies in the face of biblical teaching.  It is in direct disobedience to the Word.

          “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”       --1 Cor. 12:22-26

            These and other passages detail how the Body of Christ honors those who are weakest, and seem the most to be hidden from the world.  But we in the churches most often ignore the sufferers, hoping their suffering won’t interfere with the daily routines of the church, and certainly won’t change our carefully planned curriculums or calendars to address the specific needs of specific members.  That would involve work, and change, and adjustment, and these religious systems and programs we set up just won’t accommodate that.  We certainly won’t stop what we’re doing and let the Spirit work.  That would cause the same kind of disruption.

3.      And our leaders, where are they?  Are they in the trenches, digging the dirt, working day and night to encourage and strengthen the weakest and neediest among us?  Are they sharing their very lives with the brethren daily?

          “Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you…”We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”                         --1 Thess. 2:9,8

            Is this the example being set for us by our pastors and teachers and elders in the traditional churches?  The 24/7 care of a mother or father for their children?  The toil and hardship that Paul and the other apostles exampled?  Do our leaders wash the feet of the disciples as Jesus did?  Or do we prepare our sermons in nice, comfortable offices, replete with electronics, and a large library of suitable proportion to our church’s size and sophistication?  Do we meet with this committee and that committee, and the Deacons, and lead this or that carefully prepared Bible Study?  Are our leaders going out among us constantly, in our homes, our offices, meeting with us to encourage us in the Lord, and to build our faith?  Are they working night and day to make sure Christ is being formed in us?
            Do we not get the difference here between our “church” life and what is shown us as God’s will in Scripture?
          If this is what we’re doing, then we’re not following Jesus’ words or example.
Jesus is our Leader, and He set the tone by washing the disciples’ feet.  He taught us to lead by being servants, and not taking the seats of honor, but giving them to the least of our brothers.

          “…the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves…But I am among you as one who serves.”     --Luke 22:26,27

            If Jesus can spend His time serving His disciples, as He does for us now, acting as our advocate with the Father on our behalf, praying for us, and covering us with His blood He shed over our sins, then why can’t we do the same for our brethren?  The answer is: We must.  This is a prerequisite for true leaders in the Kingdom of God.  All others are imposters.
          And we must be very careful not to listen to or follow men who don’t lead by this example.  In this modern day, we have a large majority who have departed from Jesus’ Way, and come up with their own ways of leading the churches.  They have established themselves over flocks without the true authority of Jesus, which is absolute and total loving servitude.  They have been designated leaders by the hand of man, not the gifting and calling of God.  They may collect salaries, and be recognized by men, but do not lead anyone toward the vital, biblical life in the Kingdom.
          And of course some are self-appointed.  Starting and managing large ministries, they have branded themselves as leaders of the sheep.  However, marketing does not make it so.  Much of this is worldly, masquerading as Christ’s leadership.

          In this short teaching, I’ve set out a few examples of how we set aside the commands of God for the traditions of men.  There are many more—enough to fill a set of large volumes.  But what do we expect from hundreds of years of tradition upon tradition being built from a structure God never wanted to let us have, instead of the wonderful Body He gave us?

          Listen and heed the Words of Jesus on this subject:

“Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.  They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.“                                                                             --Mark 7:6-8

            Are we practicing hypocrites, or are we the living, breathing Holy-Spirit led EKKLESIA of God?  I pray you’ll seek the Lord’s face today with all your heart, and join those who follow Jesus and give everything for Him.

 

          

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