Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Going to Church???

The phrase “going to church” is a misnomer and misleading. The word “church” itself has become a colloquialism for all sorts of things which in truth are not the church. In the Old Testament words and phrases like Tabernacle and Sanctuary and tent of meeting were used. They more accurately described what that building was used for. But today we call a building a “church” which not only is inaccurate but has over the years completely changed the meaning of the word church.
In the New Testament the Greek word “ecclesia” is translated “church” and it depicts a gathering, a group, or the called out ones. It has absolutely nothing to do with a building. In fact large buildings came into existence during the time of that carnal and wicked emperor Constantine. He built buildings for Christians as well as other pagan religions and believers adopted his self serving offering. Since then buildings have been built all over the world including large and ornate edifices that are now called a church. And so here we are.
The more correct question would be can a believer not interact and fellowship with other believers and still walk with Christ? To that I would say no. But there are many shut ins who derive their meat from the Scripture and perhaps a few visitors. The visitation from pastors to shut ins has become a lost practice but decades ago it was part of a pastor’s ministry. And if the religious organization (church) is large then good luck with having the pastor visit you for any reason. They have a staff member assigned for those mundane irritants.
But I do believe reading or hearing Biblical messages by a man of God must be a mainstay in a believer’s spiritual life. That can be done through the internet these days. I would strongly advise against Christian television. Most “churches” do not have any corporate prayer of any significance so you are not missing that. But now there are blogs and websites and FaceBook where you can interact and fellowship with other like minded believers. You see, many if not most of the “churches” in your area are man made constructs and follow the spirit of this world. They are patriotic and moralistic and money dependent as well as war supporting institutions which really have very little to do with Christ.
So the ultimate question is would God desire His people to gather in a local institution which is built and operates in the strength of man? Can that possibly be the will of the Spirit just so you can “punch your ticket” and say you “went to church”? I know scores of people who have grown spiritually because they left the institution commonly called church. They no longer sit under utilitarian messages designed to make you successful. They no longer have to endure 4th of July services filled with idolatry. They no longer have to be in the midst of pastor idolization. And many have found it a great blessing to use their money for missions and the ministry to the poor and not have it go to buildings and large staff. They feel like they have been set free.
But there is a responsibility that comes with leaving the institution known as church. You must feed your spirit. You must be in the Word. You must deepen your prayer life. You must fellowship with other believers somehow. And you must not allow your distaste for the system you left to puff you up. You must allow the Spirit to strip you of any pride or self righteousness. And any spiritual progress you make must make you grateful and more humble. And when you interact on the internet you will find those with whom you must break fellowship because some are self righteous and caustic, but the Spirit will also teach you that no one will completely agree with you. And when a believer has a different perspective about something, even something about which you feel strongly, if the brother or sister is humble and seems to love Jesus then you can overlook other things.
You are the church, or at least part of it. In these last days there are many ways to interact with other true yokefellow and to benefit spiritually from other’s gifts. But we must be diligent in our seeking of Christ. I personally have benefitted greatly from internet fellowship with other believers. I have written extensively about the compromises of the local “church” constructs” elsewhere so I will not belabor the point. But what good can it possibly be to sit in a pew and feel nothing but uncomfortable? What good can it be to hear ear tickling messages? When you go Sunday after Sunday only to revisit the same redundant construct you did the Sunday before is that of the Spirit? When no one weeps with repentance and the service is designed to be “uplifting” so people will return…is that of the Spirit?
I suggest all of pray without ceasing and allow the Spirit to use these internet forums to edify, convict, and exhort us as we continue in His Word and watch the power of the Word break us and remake us into His image.

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