Article # five: Your Christian Community (Part 2)
Again, it makes good sense to assess the christian community where you live. We have this tendency to use our christian neighbors as a comparative instead of the Bible. But neighborhoods are not always healthy, and the impression we have of ourselves may be distorted. (This is in reference to the city or town you live in, not the assembly you attend – that’s Part 3.)
If you lived in Galatia you might think you were okay because you equaled or surpassed most. Until you made a forthright assessment and discovered they belonged to the “They don’t want Him (enough)!” crowd. Oh-oh.
A child raised by fervent Christ-centered parents will likely be spiritually healthy. One parented by an apathetic mom and dad might conclude lukewarm is normal, okay. It would be good for an outsider to give the child a biblical perspective so she would know her parents’ influence is something to overcome, not embrace.
I suppose your town or city is similar to most. If so, you could have a defective perception of yourself and God’s intention for your life. You must learn to see yourself from a biblical view. Only. Many believers from elsewhere don’t think much of North American christianity.
B r o t h e r Y u n : Before I traveled to the West I had no idea so many churches were spiritually asleep…. Many meetings are cold and lack the fire and presence of God we have in China….. China is experiencing revival but most places in the West are not. (The Heavenly Man)
Perhaps it takes an outsider to show us the influence of our community is something to be overcome, not embraced. If you have any semblance to Joe and Jill Average your outlook is misaligned. Seriously.
Bear with me as I attempt to undo damage done to your perspective. I may know some things about you that you don’t know about yourself. For example,
YOU ARE NOT A LAYMAN (LAYWOMAN). The word is not in the Bible, not in God’s vocabulary, not in God’s perspective. The word is an invention of man to describe an invention of man.
YOUR PASTOR IS JESUS CHRIST. The man you call pastor is not your pastor. He may be a pastor, but not your pastor. (You don’t belong to him and he doesn’t belong to you.) You probably know that pastor means shepherd. And I’m sure you have read the 23rd Psalm. (“The Lord is my shepherd.”) Nowhere in the Bible does one call another pastor.
YOU ARE NOT ACCOUNTABLE TO ANY MAN. Paul was not accountable to Peter, Peter was not accountable to John, John was not accountable to James, and you are not accountable to Pastor Whoever or any other believer. You are accountable to the Lord Jesus.
P a u l : Each of us shall give account of himself to God. (Rom. 14:12)
YOU DON’T HAVE TO ATTEND ‘CHURCH’. You can if you want to. Perhaps at this time in your life it is wise. But you don’t have to. Paul did not attend (what we call) church. Nor did Peter or the other eleven. What we call church was not yet invented; it took many centuries to come up with this creation. (To put it lightly, I don’t think the apostles would approve.)
YOU DON’T HAVE TO TITHE. Pressuring adherents to give ten percent of their earnings to the local assembly has to be one of the most corrupt practices of church history.
L a r r y J o n e s : Why is it that fundamental churches are divided over other biblical doctrines (eternal security, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, divine healing, to name only a few), and yet seem to be in agreement on the subject of tithing? Why have other regulations of the Mosaic Law been shunned (Sabbath observance, circumcision, etc.), and this particular regulation so warmly embraced? There are no nice answers. Tithing is not a Scriptural teaching, tithing is a convenience teaching. It has been adopted because it is so very convenient. The tithing practice helps generate a tremendous flow of money through the local assemblies and that is the only reason it has been so readily accepted. (Financing the Great Commission)
L a r r y J o n e s : Paul did not endorse, and was not sympathetic toward, the tithing system. Paul never speaks of a tenth or a percentage, but rather a principle of equality and generosity. (ditto)
YOU ARE NOT A DENOMINATIONAL PERSON. God never made you one. Man can’t make you one. Paul wasn’t one. You won’t be one when you get to heaven. Considering yourself one doesn’t make you one.
YOU ARE CALLED INTO THE MINISTRY. Full time ministry. As much as anyone, licensed or otherwise.
P a u l : God…. has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2Cor. 5:18)
Us is me and us is you.
P a u l : He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…. for the work of ministry. (Eph. 4:11)
You can take Paul’s statement two ways. One, Paul is saying only some (and perhaps a relative few) are called to be apostles, prophets, etc. (These few or some would today be considered clergy or ministerial.) Or two, we are all given one of these administrative gifts “for the work of ministry.” Why is it assumed everyone is not included in the four somes? My understanding of the english language tells me all christians could certainly be included. But are they? I invite you to read the third chapter of The Way It Is.
YOU HAVE A HIGH CALLING ON YOUR LIFE. The high calling on your life is not usher, president of the Women’s League or member of the church board. It is not making lots of money to finance a church building or church government. It is much loftier than that.
You are called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and to the church! You are called to walk through doors the Holy Spirit opens for you! You are to lay hands on the sick and see them recover! You are to be accompanied by Holy Spirit, early-church signs and wonders!
J E S U S : You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)
C h a l l e n g e : You have been shown certain truths about yourself and your Christ. Yes, I have brought you to a crossroad. What will you do with these truths? Will you have a talk with Jesus about these important issues? Will you diligently seek the Word for yourself? Will you put Bible words above tradition words? Do you want (more of) Him….. enough?
P r a y e r : Lord Jesus, it would be so nice if every born-again lived and preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” It would be so nice if we all loved You increasingly. Lord Jesus, baptize these words in the most Holy Spirit. Set Yours free to serve You. Jesus, I ask not for a little blessing upon the reader, I ask a large blessing. And I ask in Your precious name. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)