Saturday, August 6, 2011
Anytime we think about changing an existing institution we have to ask ourselves a few questions. What do we expect from it? What was it designed to do? Is it meeting our expectations? Does it need improvement? How can we improve it? Or should we accept it as it is?
At first glance, these may seem simple questions and your first thoughts may include that the answers are simple, too. However, on deeper reflection and considering the subject matter, perhaps we shouldn't be too hasty in our conclusions.
Religion effects every human being in some shape, form or manner. Even those who would contend they are not "religious" or hold no belief that might be considered religious. The existence (or non-existence) of GOD in some way effects everyone. The response in each of us to that truth has profound effect. Whether we admit it, ignore it or deny it, it is there, it does exist. The 9-11 attack on the United States was driven by religion and affected us all in some way. That alone supports my point. So, given the point that religion effects every human, we can move on to the existence of "church" as an institution. Our responses will run the same gamut. Deeply involved to ignoring it as completely as possible. As an institution, that can be done.
What I'm suggesting is the "church" isn't an institution, and that the Author of "church" never intended it to be the institution is has become. Jesus once told His disciples, "the works that I do, these you will do and greater works than these, because I go to the Father." He, Jesus, also taught that the Kingdom of God resides WITHIN the person, not OUTSIDE of people, and that the actions we take are a result of the Spirit inside motivating us. I am certainly not the first to say that "church" is an ORGANISM, not an organization. I'm suggesting that the very way we human beings have designed the modern day "church" actually inhibits true growth and fellowship with the Lord our God.
It is clear from the teachings of Christ that we are to gather treasures in heaven and not here on this earth. I believe the current church design ENCOURAGES hording and selfishness and greed among those who serve in it. AW Tozer once said that in a contest between God and money, money will win in a mans heart almost every time. We'll justify and excuse, but we'll choose the money. We see time and time again this truth occurring in the leadership and congregation members of the institution called church. MONEY entices and eventually enslaves. It's a struggle we lose far more often than we win. Few, very few indeed can overcome this particular temptation and Jesus was well aware of it. He addressed it and spoke plainly about it. "You cannot serve God and mammon.(money) For you will love the one and hate the other." I confess I struggle mightily with this one, for I would like the comfort money appears to bring the same as anyone else.
Without the structured institution of "church", much of this particular temptation and many others would be done away with. Idolizing the church leader, idolizing the buildings, the programs, the fancy decorations, the comfortable chairs, the Worship Leaders, the music and the list goes on and on.
The saints of God, gathering together to encourage one another, help one another, teach, comfort, exhort and bless one another is absolutely a Biblical model. I'm suggesting that this institutional being we have named "church" isn't the most conducive method, or at the least has become a less conducive method to fellowship and intimacy with the Living God. I'm suggesting radical change in the Body of Christ is in order. We've become too "comfortable" in the Sunday "I go to church" mode. (Or Saturday or Wednesday or whatever DAY you have designated).