Us AND Them?
Viewing the Organized Church
By Dan Beaty
For the past 7 years since my wife and I began doing Home Church, one question has persisted: How do we view the denominational/organized churches and those who attend them? I have to admit that my initial feeling was one of distaste and even disgust for a time. After all, did not some of the errors, excesses and unbiblical forms and practices of the traditional church system drive us to discovering the freedom and greater effectiveness of Home Church?
Our experience was that after having devoted nearly two decades of service to the traditional church system, we were beginning to see its failures on many fronts. From that God began to show us how many of the things we previously read into the book of Acts as being normal church life were simply not there. We saw how open the meetings were in the New Testament in comparison to the typical North American church service. We also saw how the leaders were expected to serve more than be served and adulated. Besides that, the attention given to the church building itself was compared to the First Century, when special church buildings were not given much consideration at all.
Having church in the home, of course, does not automatically fix everything. I see it as a step in the right direction, that direction being towards God's perfect will for His people. But if we are not careful another dangerous step can inadvertently be taken in the wrong direction, away from God's Heart and Mind for us!
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:34-35).
In our zeal for this ongoing reformation we must never forget these words of our Lord. We may find ourselves criticized for not "going to church," for not having recognized leaders or "a covering," or for simply being different- out of the mainstream. But His words and His will are clear. Love must be pre-eminent. We must love one another. We must pray for those who criticize us and resist the temptation to retaliate.
We can and will "speak the truth in love." We can stand in the New Covenant and the true church experience. We can become His servants and demonstrate the life of the New Testament Church. That testimony alone will shed light on the errors of modern Christianity. But on the other hand we must maintain a healthy, affirming spirit towards all of God's people and His work in other environments.
Yes, as I am writing this, God is at work in the Institutional Church! He is saving people, teaching them, building up His Body through His saints in congregations everywhere! People are learning of their gifts, and of His character, His holy Word -- all of these things have been and are taking place in what we deem to be a less than ideal setting!
At the same time Satan would love to keep us home church folk busy with fault finding. We will never run out of problems to expose in the Institutional Church, and even in those who home church, but not like us! I have long observed that once a critical spirit takes hold, growth ceases. Then attention is no longer toward Christ, but on our competition!
One thing that I have found extremely helpful is to possess a Kingdom of God mindset. To observe the extension of Christ's reign is an inspiring and encouraging thing! To participate in its increase is even greater! After all, a key element in the prayer given unto us by our Lord Jesus is to pray for the Kingdom of God to come, and for His will to be done in the earth, as it is in heaven!
Today we are finding our part in His plan to sum up all things in Christ. Let us be about our Father's business, and leave His purpose for others in the various churches and denominations up to Him. Surely we are not advocating endorsement of things we know which displease the Lord. We will speak out against them as He gives us the opportunity. But first we will continue to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!
We will give ourselves to loving the brethren and building up Christ's Body, The Church. We will stay in tune with our Father's Heart and live accordingly. We will at all cost reject the spirit that attempts to sow discord among the brothers and sisters, even as it is disguised as "the prophetic voice!"
We will heed His Voice telling us to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, for "There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-5).
The day is coming, and has already begun when fellowship among all of His beloved ones will be richer, stronger and more glorious than before. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of His glorious Church is bringing this about. It is a fellowship that was purchased for us in Him by His precious Blood. Will we be found opposing His work in this day, or will we be looking for Him, longing for Him to reveal Himself to and through His Church in the days ahead? May the latter be so for all of us!