Gathering of the Body (3 of 3)
* Remember to read the previous parts of this series first
We've looked at several Scriptures already regarding how God views ritualistic gatherings versus gathering to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Although there are many more we could look at, here are a few more biblical examples of what has personally revolutionized what I know to be the Body of Christ:
"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything." Colossians 1:18
There is One Head, Christ alone. No man should ever hold this position.
"When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." 1 Corinthians 14:26
Each one is to be an active participant. There are no spectators in the true Body that simply fill seats and listen.
"Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house." Colossians 4:15
While religion can also easily dwell in house churches, I continue to experience first-hand how the LORD moves mightily within gatherings of the Body in homes when no formulas and rituals are present.
"If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed." 1 Timothy 5:16
To reference the tithing point earlier, when a Body is free to give where it is needed, they can. As it stands today, the organized church is greatly burdened with unnecessary financial obligations and cannot aptly assist those in need.
"And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them." Acts 4:32
Does this sound like the average local Body to you? Does this accurately describe all of the dozens of "churches" that are just in your hometown? Not in the slightest! I have only seen one organized church in my lifetime that has come even close to meeting this description and they are quite a rarity! None of us have arrived at the place where we should be, myself at the front and center with hands raised – guilty! I don't claim to be doing it perfectly in every area. The difference is, do we see what the Word defines the gathering of the Body to be and then turn a blind eye to it, choosing to settle for what it has become? Or do we disconnect from the norm and explore what the Word defines it to be? I will not settle for what our modern-day forefathers set in place. I will not forsake the real for a form of it. Will you?
I urge you to read the following verses and paragraph very carefully.
"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building." 1 Corinthians 3:9
"Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16
"For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said," I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." 2 Corinthians 6:16
"You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5
We can no longer substitute building temporal edifices of wood and stone for building spiritual houses! The Body is to be the holy priesthood as they offer acceptable spiritual sacrifices, their very lives! We have traded in the spiritual for the natural, missing the entire point of Jesus' death and resurrection to do away with the rituals of the law. We have chosen to sew the veil back together and settle with dwelling in the outer court. We have chosen to reconstruct the physical temple in the form of "church campuses". We have chosen to again go through high priests of flesh and bone rather than The High Priest, The Christ. Only through Him are our sacrifices acceptable to God. We instead go it alone and offer up what we deem as good and pleasing, forsaking entirely what God desires. We have greatly missed it my friend and I believe the LORD is greatly grieved. If we know that the church is the people and not the building, then why in the world do we keep pumping billions of dollars a year into them? Why do the masses of Believers only gather there? It is time for the Body to grasp that She is the temple where the LORD dwells!
Lastly, on this point about the gathering of the Body I'd like to add that this is not some personal vendetta against organized religion. I have people tell me, "But my church is full of great Christian people!" or "Why are you so against 'church'?" I know plenty of fantastic Christian people with great intentions, but when the LORD has established guidelines and criteria, then we must be found to be obedient to them. It is the responsibility of the Body to know what the LORD is saying. We must know what the true biblical definition of "church" even is! We will be held accountable for our own actions and will not be able to look to anyone else to validate what we chose to live according to. It is my choice to allow the Word to define what Christianity is, not traditions and surely not the majority. We all have the choice. Sadly, most will fall into line and allow someone else to tell them who they are to be.
Paul seemingly knew what was coming, or perhaps it had already started, when he stated, "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." Colossians 2:8
It is time we lay down what has become errantly deemed to be "the church". We must allow the LORD to again define what His Body is and how we are to gather. Are you willing to step out and return to Him, forsaking the traditions of men for what is acceptable in His sight?
Next up I'd like to review and share an illustration that I believe will summarize this series quite clearly. We must be striving to live lives that are pleasing and acceptable to the LORD, above all else.
* I highly encourage you to read the comments on this one - some great discussion is ongoing.