Which church does God prefer?
How does the church all fit together?
What about the ekklesia? The denominational system works in a similar manner to the secular model, that’s just how it has evolved, ever since the Kingdom of God was dragged into the world. But is this what is meant to be and can it be any different?
Think of the Body of Christ, as described in the 1 Corinthians passage above. What this doesn’t mean is that all members of the Body are living and working in isolation. We are called to be in fellowship with other parts of the Body.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
So could the model be of thousands of small gatherings of believers, not too small as to be ineffective, not too large as to be unwieldly? No hierarchies, just a horizontal line of small fellowships, each consisting of a horizontal line of like-minded believers. And how do these small gatherings communicate with the wider Body stretched throughout the world? That is surely the 64 million dollar question.
The worldly Church of the denominations does this through hierarchies and chains of authority that it has copied from the secular business world. How should the ekklesia do it?
- Through horizontal relationships – between the various scattered expressions – the internet has made this easy to do.
- Through a vertical relationship - through the Spirit Who connects us all. i.e. supernaturally.
As long as we cut out the middle man we are fine. It was meant to happen at the Reformation: no more priests and intermediaries, just direct access to God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Name of Jesus. Also, we don’t need the ‘professional’ clergy to authorise our horizontal relationships. If there is control here, then it is usually born out of fear … of losing control, members, income etc. There shouldn’t be any ‘barriers of entry’ for us to meet up with others in the ekklesia, wherever in the world they may be, Free movement, no passports needed.
The Body of Christ is a wonderful thing when unleashed. Every member of the ekklesia working together and belonging to each other:
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-8)
Here’s something most of us have said at some point; but that’s not my thing, I don’t have the gift of evangelism. Yes, I’ve been there and have lived most of my Christian life accordingly. In fact I can’t remember the last person that I led into a living faith in Jesus. Well, that’s a cop-out because we may not all have been called as evangelists (form), but we are all capable of evangelising (function), as God empowers us accordingly. In fact, as I look through the lists of spiritual gifts in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4, there have been times when God has used me many times according to the function, rather than the form. For instance, there have been two recent occasions where Monica and I were used in a pastoral sense, without being pastors. There’s a church that considers me as their apostle, because of the impact of the teaching in my books, but that doesn’t make me an apostle, in the positional sense. Repeat with the gifts of exhortation, giving, leadership, prophecy, discernment, healing, knowledge and the picture develops of the Body of Christ, equipped for whatever tasks God has for us, with the right tools for the right occasion. It’s rather wonderful.
This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp