What is church and who gets to decide how we worship and fellowship? Is it me or you? The obvious answer is God Himself right? Does He care how we worship? In the Old Testament God gave the Law along with all the duties of the priests, the sacrifices for sins, the Feasts throughout the year and gave specific instructions in how to fulfill these things and said things like “anyone who fails to follow thus and thus will be cutoff. Here’s a couple examples if you don’t mind:
And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”(Gen 17:14)
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:15)
But we know the Old has passed away, or was fulfilled in Christ. And what did Christ say about worship?
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:19-24)
So what is this spirit and truth we worship in? I think first we need to talk about something a little more simple. Getting back to what is church. Is it a building? Or is it disciples of Christ coming together? Paul wrote the following:
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. (I Cor 3:16-17)
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:20-22)
So if we are parts of the temple of God, God’s church what is that saying to you? Is what we have as what men call church in a building the same thing? Or is this different. Are we called to go to church or be the church? I would suggest we are to be the church. To fulfill the call that Christ has placed on our lives. I am not saying we shouldn’t sit and listen to someone teach about Jesus and His ways, but I am saying as we learn and apply those things in our life we can then share those things with others when led. We don’t need an official licensed pastor to watch over us like the police. All we need is the Holy Spirit and to worship in truth and spirit. Let the Lord guide the meetings to meet His will. So I want to say very clearly here that I am not against church. I am pro God, pro God’s ways because He knows what’s best. Far too long have we gathered in ways that we thought best.
See companion post here
The last time I went on a substantial road trip, I had to ascertain not only where I was headed, but take note of the direction in which I wanted to go and what resources would be necessary to get me there. I didn’t just get in my vehicle and start driving, I had to plan ahead of time what I needed to arrive at my destination.
In a similar fashion, many professing Christians plan out their entire lives- how and where they want to serve God, where they want to live, who they will marry and the standard of living they deem to be acceptable to them. It all seems so normal, and everyone else is more or less doing the same thing. So what’s the problem?
For far too long we have acted in ways we thought best- hardly if ever taking into consideration what God Himself deems to be necessary and/or even acceptable to Him by His standards. As Al has pointed out, what matters is what God says- that’s He’s the one who sets the standard for worship, fellowship and everything else as well. Where did we get the idea that being a Christian allows us to do what we want and desire to do? Is that what constitutes Christian freedom in the Bible?
Just because we live under the New Covenant does not mean God has relinquished His right over us and that His standards have become obsolete. God has not changed and is just as concerned and just as just to command and demand His children. To think for one moment that I have any right to do as I please as it regards “the faith” is to be oblivious to what is foundational to all Christian service: Not I, but Christ.
Great point, Michael.
Why are the people so blind to these truths?
There is a spirit at work in the churches that blinds the people of God to these truths. They cannot conceive of them … they cannot see the word as it is in relation to these things.
The scales on their eyes must be prayed off …