By Dan Beaty
Have you ever considered the great humility of our God? It was He Who chose to clothe Himself in flesh, and walk among men as a carpenters son! Of all places to be born He found an animal stall to be the appropriate place to lay His head. Oh mystery of mysteries! History has recorded the countless times in which the Almighty God has taken pleasure in winning great victories by using the weak, the small, the few, the insignificant, the unknown. This event of all events would be no exception to this pattern.
This man of no reputation would prove to be the Saviour of the world, the King of all kings, and the Master of that most glorious domain, the Kingdom of Heaven. The wonderful simplicity of His plan for man would amazingly be the actual key to its effectiveness. And how dangerous it would become to the masters of all other kingdoms!
How strange was the fact that so many religious leaders of that day feared this small and insignificant band of men who followed the teacher from Nazareth! Why was it so important to them that these preachers and their message be put to death? The most obvious reason seems to be that their activities were becoming a threat to the power and influence of these who coveted this worlds riches and the praise and honor of men.
After all, who could compete with pure, unadulterated Love, and the wonderful freedom associated with it? In the generations that followed, this idea, this spark of light, spread into a flame that engulfed Europe and has dynamically impacted the entire Western world unto this day!
At the center of Jesus’ ministry was a powerful message known as the Gospel of the Kingdom. He passed it down to His apostles, which gave them the impetus to overcome some extremely difficult challenges. Their first hand knowledge of Jesus, His Life, His teachings, His proclamation, His crucifixion and return from the grave, and their being baptized in His Spirit resulted in the establishment of the messianic community that we call the church.
Centuries later the church itself has become the focus and the kingdom of God that Jesus both established and instructed us to anticipate and pray for has become virtually forgotten.
At this point some may ask, “What does all this have to do with house church?” Well, I am glad you asked this question! House church has very much to do with the kingdom of God! In fact, the proliferation of house churches in the first century then played an important role in the expansion of the Kingdom of God in the earth.
While his letters to the churches and individuals in the New Testament made few direct references to the Kingdom of God, Paul the apostle was definitely a Kingdom preacher. In Acts 28:23 we read “he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.” And also in verse 31 we find him “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”
With this in mind, we can begin to recognize the significance of the house churches that sprang up as a result of Paul’s preaching and teaching. They became little outposts of the Kingdom of God in a world that was hostile to genuine Truth. As the salt and light they seasoned society and illuminated the Way to eternal Life. They provided an alternative to the dog-eat-dog lifestyle that prevailed in their day, by practicing the simplicity of Christ’s love together.
Whatever purpose God has for institutional Christianity, we who have been drawn out of it in our following of Jesus must understand our part in His plan. As we pray for His kingdom to come and His will to be done in this earth, we are becoming a practical expression of His reign, growing together as the Body of Christ. Our home church meetings are proving to be very fertile ground for the planting of the Lord. By His Word and Spirit we are beginning to function in the spiritual gifts that build up the Body, for both nurturing new-born children and the reproductive process.
Individual and corporate spiritual growth is Kingdom growth. House churches, however, find no need to retain each member that grows up in the midst. When the time is appropriate, some of those who have matured can be directed of the Lord to extend the work elsewhere. Since no effort to maintain a huge organizational structure is required, the time and resources can be more efficiently used to build up the redeemed people, who are the church. Now that the Kingdom of God is ultimately in view, our little sectarian religious kingdoms hold no more power over us. This is the glorious freedom we have found in Christ!
Jesus is building His church, and establishing His righteous, peaceful and joyful Kingdom in us and through us! Therefore we must be both patient and encouraged, despising not the day of small things! In Christ our feeble efforts to glorify Him can have eternal significance! May we continue and persevere in our labors unto Him in prayerful dedication, and bold determination to live under His reign! Then we can even now begin to rejoice in heavenly places with that final generation that shouts forth:
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelations 11:15)