January 23, 2009
Time for my Bible reading...
I have been trying to not get worked up about the "congregational meeting" coming up... then I read this:
Matt 23:8 But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10. Do not be called leaders (or teachers); for One is your leader, that is, Christ. 11. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted."
Maybe we don't need either buildings (as in Acts...) or "leaders" ... (and yes, the temple itself was a house of prayer (and sacrifices) - not to mention that it was actually the Jewish place of worship, their "dwelling place of God" ... while we have God dwelling within us by His Spirit) (the disciples continually devoted themselves to prayer, Acts 1:14) (and yes, in the beginning they met in the temple Acts 2:46 "DAY BY DAY continuing with one mind in the temple, AND breaking bread from house to house - in the various private homes - taking their meals together, many wonders and signs, devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer, selling their stuff and sharing with all...) (does that sound like us? )
So we are told we need the building. Why? And "leaders"?
Oh - and also "in the temple" : teaching the people (not yet believers) and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead (Acts 4:2); gathering together in one accord; signs and wonders (Acts 5:12). BUT the teaching to the church, the fellowship, prayer, etc among believers seems to have taken place in homes mainly... and of course it wasn't long at all before "the temple" wasn't even available to the church... and then evangelism took place in the marketplaces and other gatherings of the general populace...
oh - and then there was the choosing of the deacons: Acts 6: good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, who were put in charge of distributing food to the widows in the church, etc. While the apostles/ elders devoted themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word...
So I keep wondering about "church" again... well, guess I'll go to that meeting and see what transpires... And Lord, YOUR will be done! (Yes, I know, You are in control and You will show me, show us, Your way. Yay!)
(Okay, so I was praying about all this... and not really knowing how to pray other than that Your Spirit would be poured out - and that we (I !!!) would listen and obey You! And then I just was sitting here and trying to listen for Your voice because I really didn't know what to pray... and then I went on to my prayer book "praises" page - and was just praising You for the good things that have been happening among our gathering of Your body, Your church... and I suddenly realized that of the good things happening in our midst, for most of them (maybe all of them) the building IS irrelevant... and even if we wanted a bigger space for "special events" we could just rent a space for those few times (though I wouldn't be surprised that even those - since none of them have had huge amounts of people - could also fit into some of our homes... or in the warmer part of the year, at many a beautiful outdoor location!
The thing is, the really beautiful things that have been happening, have been led by Your Spirit... and yes, You have used a variety of Your people ... there really has been increasing body participation (now some people are concerned that the "Pastor isn't earning his salary..." ). Without a formal "worship pastor/ leader" for the past while, different people have just been volunteering to take part... and others have been sharing scriptures, Words that You have spoken to them, etc during the "services" ... and others praying together... and some people using their practical skills to help a single mom renovate her house (she dreams of having it open for the church to gather and fellowship and worship together)...
So anyway,... the building is "handy" and "nice to have" - but is it worth the cost? I wonder? So much space... and yet, while these moves of Your Spirit that line up with scripture ARE happening, the church "numbers" continue to dwindle, and the majority of the "programs" have been disappearing... Yes, we are "reaching out" into the community with morning coffee for people from the streets... but how much are we reaching out, sharing, caring for those in our midst who are really in need? (like the early church did...)
Lord, it really is about YOU... the church is to be centered on Jesus... who had "no place to lay His head..
We're learning about Truth from this Truth Project ... YOU are Truth... I wonder.. I wonder if stripping away the scaffolding we've erected around You wouldn't , after all, expose the beautiful core, the Center, the Truth - You, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit, Father God... I wonder, are all the "attachments" we've built around You to "attract people to You" - actually serving to obscure YOU?
Can we afford to obscure You??
(We don't need, either, to erect a "place for You to dwell" - You dwell everywhere, in us, around us - infinitely beyond us too!