1 Corinthians 12:22-24 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need; but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked:
I am coming to believe that although we say we want others to fellowship and study with in our lives, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. It seems that fb and other internet groups, blogsites etc. are enough for most. Maybe it’s still just the “idea” of church that we miss but not enough to really have God define it differently for us; and by that, I mean we all have been indoctrinated as to what “church” is, what it isn’t, where it’s at and when, what it looks like, feels like, sounds like, who sits where, how long the worship will be and the sermon and where we will eat afterwards. And God forbid it doesn’t go over the allotted time or stray from the programed pulpit presentations of given Holidays or latest trend in the news.
Most of us fully know and understand that this is just routine religiosity but it’s all most of us have ever known and like it or not, that frames what we think that any future gathering of the body will look like. This may be why many can enter back into the doors of the institutional church and be comfortable. Of which there is no condemnation to those who can or do; for some like myself entering back in is just cold comfort; of which I’ve spoken of before. It’s comfortable because it’s familiar, it “feels” right, not necessarily healthy or where one belongs but one can navigate through the programs, understand the routines, and know what to expect from the pulpit and the pews. It has no true spiritual value to add and trying to change it brings you right back out the doors, either running from it or shunned and anathema.
There has been no other pattern or model, that has been presented or has been present in our time. For most us, this is what church is and always has been. Oh many claim they have the “true” example but it falls back into the same patterns of what we have seen for centuries. Apparently there are house churches that are starting to pattern after scriptural fellowship, study and growth or at least we see book after book on them and here and there they are popping up…never seems to be in our area and I’m done buying books and following men who write the “how to do church” books, when so much is given within the pages of scripture. Its form is simplistic, humble, pretty much devoid of programs, power positions and preying power mongers.
James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this. To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. One verse many of us have heard from the pulpits, many times but never really put it into perspective; as we should. Speaking for myself and the others that surrounded me within the church walls, we were taught that we should give to the church’s food banks or programs that helped those in need and we thought that ringing a bell over the Holidays or serving a couple of hours at a homeless shelter “under our church name” was what this verse means.
James 1:22-25 Lays the ground work for verse 27 above. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholds himself; and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
This is very familiar to most who have sat in church for any amount of time. But notice how one can be a “hearer” and not a doer and deceived, seeing himself for what he is, yet when he walks out the church doors he forgets, he has after all done his spiritual duty for the week…punched that spiritual time clock. Yet in the very next verse it speaks of the perfect law of liberty and not being a forgetful hearer BUT a doer of the “WORK”.
So we say we want true church but I’m not sure we even know what we are asking at times. I know we don’t know what it will look like because we are viewing it from the tainted lens of past experiences of church, which has been defined for us for centuries now. No wonder many of us are still so skittish but still look to the organized church as having something to offer us. We tell ourselves, if only we just find the right one, that old familiar feeling wears thin.
We are skittish because we don’t fit into the programs, pews or pulpit rhetoric. The church suit we were used to wearing doesn’t fit any more and will never fit again, it has become like a shell we have outgrown. I have seen and heard many churches today that are literally trying to capitalize on those of us outside the camp. They lay claim to being “different” they speak out against deception and false teachings ….always pointing in another direction ( meaning other churches or ministries not affiliated with their own). They’ll call themselves the remnant church yet there’s nothing much different about them. The programs and church campaigns and policies still operate with in their walls they may have “conferences and guest speakers” that come in and speak on the apostasy, false teachers and the wide spread deception.
They attempt to grab the attention of those of us who have vacated the building and are no longer pew sitters, they have learned to speak our language and use trigger words and phrases that speak to not only our past wounds but also to the hope and faith that we still have left in our Lord Jesus Christ. The trouble is, although they speak directly to the deception and apostasy taking place today, they themselves have not cleaned out their own closets and still operate out of religiosity. They recognize that many have left and are leaving these apostate churches and they are attempting to capitalizing on it.
The one thing lacking that is the “elephant in the room” is the total lack of transparency and accountability on the part of these ministries that teach correctly on the deception and apostasy that many of us have come out of BUT they refuse to shed that like into their own back yard. All one must do is question or challenge their pet teachings and you will be meant with the same suspicion, derogatory statements and arrogance that you received from the apostate church you left. You either conform or you are marked and anathema. It’s the same old familiar pattern, they ignore, shun, demonize any who ask or challenge.
Trying to connect with others like ourselves becomes even more of a challenge, in that many aren’t bothering to look anymore. It’s actually hard to find “us”. Still we have hope and faith, still we have grown in the midst of the wilderness. God is forever faithful. So we wait.
Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.