Fractured Faith, Broken Body
Let me start by saying I have prayed about writing this blog for a few weeks now. Something happened in my life recently that caused me to sit back and really take a good look at the body of Christ. What we could do to "better" the order of things, or "better" the hierarchy so it would "better" people's experience when they walk through the doors of the church "building". Truth of the matter is, I would be trying to change the whole world in my own strength, and let me assure you I am not strong enough for that. So what I did here was compile a few opinions from other members of the Body from all over and I prayed about them. I asked God to reveal His heart for His Bride and asked Him what He was saying. So here it goes.
In the early church people came together and gathered with one another every day. They sold all their possessions and they shared among one another. So they were essentially a big community. They ate together, they witnessed together, they taught one another and they lived with one another. This was the way of life then, almost like the Amish. The word says they had all things in common.
"And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need." Acts 2:44-45
More importantly than their living conditions was their way of life. The early church had the right idea when it came to gathering together. It wasn't in vain, or for empty purposes. The word says they devoted themselves to prayer, teachings and to fellowship. That signs and wonders were being done through the apostles. They lived in harmony with one another and the number of those who were being saved was being added daily. They were not only just seeing people saved, but once they accepted the preaching of Christ they went on to become disciples. Like Jesus told them to do in the Great Commission.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of age." Matthew 28:19-20
Considering how awesome it would have been to experience this in person, one could look at the Body today and can't help but compare. I immediately think of a church service. I think about the order of things and I can easily say, wow this is backwards. In fact, one brave soul I talked to dared to say, "Most people in the modern church today, might visit once a month, or twice at most. That means we as believers are spending one to two hours a month with the body of Christ. Instead of being a Body of believers growing together, living together, discipling each other, this hour or two a month, is all the connection we get." I have to agree here. We as a Body can't expect to see the same manifestations of miracles, and signs and wonders if we aren't growing in unity. Jesus gave us the tools to equip us all; it's up to us to use them.
"And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." Ephesians 4:11-14
How is this possible? One might ask, when we all have our own lives, our own businesses, jobs, and children? Well I think it starts in us. We have to make up our mind to choose the better portion and take time to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn. To be made into disciples so we can, in turn, disciple other people. One person said it like this, we don't go to a sporting event and get upset when it goes into overtime. So while the order of "church" has been aimed at pleasing people like this: Let's start at 11, say a quick prayer, sing three songs, then preach a three point sermon, and don't forget the funny story. Then after that, we will sing a moving song to get the people's emotions going so maybe someone will come to the alter, but not everyone because we need to get out of here by 12. Then when the pastor hears people zipping up their Bible he begins to apologize, as if God has been infringing on our precious time. As if we are doing a chore. "Hang on I know you're all ready to eat lunch, I'll be just a minute longer." But when was the last time you saw a referee come out with a microphone and apologize because the game was going into overtime? They don't.
We have traded the manifestation of miracles, signs and wonders and the teaching and admonishing of the Gospel for an hour worth of "church service" two times a month at most. Then we wonder why the Body isn't growing and why people are leaving the same way they came in. Why there is so much sin among the members of the church, and why people call us hypocrites. Well when we look into our hearts and seek God, we can clearly see what the problem is. No wonder so many people are going away hurting more than when they walked in the doors.
We have principles by which Jesus has called us to live. When we stray from that and build the church on something other than the foundation that Peter was in charge of, we end up lost. Then people rise up in leadership positions and the hierarchy of the church is damaged. Leaders begin to think a title gives them some kind of disposition that no one else can attain. If we were making disciples the way Jesus charges us to this wouldn't be happening. A sweet friend of mine said this, "I quit going to church because I wasn't growing and neither were the members. There was always bickering between members. There was never a time when I saw togetherness." Another friend said this, "...the church is supposed to be about your relationship with God. It's not supposed to be some benevolent society where people try to push their way to the top to obtain the "best" title." It breaks my heart.
Hierarchy in the church is supposed to be defined as this: holy ordering of the church, so to respect the diversity of gifts and ministries necessary for genuine unity. Jesus said that we must become like little children if we are to receive the kingdom of God. That the least is the greatest and that we should all become servants. I don't see anywhere in the Bible that it says to become the greatest strongest leader with the highest title so one can lord it over the people in ones congregation and make them feel less than. As a matter of fact Jesus has something to say for people like that, "...You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45.
He was speaking to his believers not to unbelievers. If you are reading this and are in a leadership position I urge you to go back to the cross. I plead with you in love to take your sheep and feed them. To nurture them and teach them, and DISCIPLE them! Help Jesus give them purpose! Don't leave them empty handed after you preach your sermon. They are looking to you for a reason, not as their savior, but as someone to lead them to the Savior. So many people are walking away from church, not because we aren't all sinners and are deserving of death, but from lack of authenticity. A wise woman I know said it like this, "The church, which is us, is to work together as one body. Everybody has gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit, as He determines, and each one of us has been assigned a specific role within the Body of Christ, by God, according to the will of God, not according to man."
Let's please change the way we have conditioned our church services and go back to the cross. Let's remember why we fell in love with Jesus in the first place. We know that He fills the hole inside of us that nothing else in this world can fill, but until we take that knowledge and learn how to apply it in our daily lives by being taught and discipled and reading the Scriptures and praying, we will always be just the person who said that prayer that day at the alter when we accepted Jesus in our hearts and never experience the fullness of life that Jesus wants us to.
Please be blessed by this, and thank you to everyone who reached out to me concerning this. God bless you all and may His peace follow you.