There is nowhere in the Bible that instructs Christians to ‘go (in)to church’. In fact, Jesus told us to go out!
Now wherever you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you… Matthew 28 19-20 (TPT)
If we are followers, disciples of Jesus Christ, both personally and corporately, we ARE The Church. Greek; the Ekklesia – literally, called out ones!
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27
The blueprint for how The Church, Believers in Christ should interact together and with the world, was laid down in the book of Acts. It is all very alive, active and mobile. Everyone played a part, all participated, all ‘went’. There were no purpose built buildings, no walls to restrict the flow of the Good News. The rapid spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ could not be contained.
On the Cross as Jesus died, the curtain of the Holy of Holy’s within the Temple in Jerusalem, the inner sanctuary of God’s presence on earth, was ripped in two. Ever since, without the need for (professional) priests and rituals, individuals can freely return right into to the Presence, into a personal relationship destroyed by original sin in the Garden of Eden, with their loving Heavenly Father.
The early church, the body of Believers as described in the book of Acts, bathed in the power of The Holy Spirit, totally embracing the teachings, freedom and new relationship that Christ bought. Thus like wildfire, the wonderful news of His almost too good to be true, reconciling gift to mankind, spread throughout the known world.
But over the centuries that have followed, so many Believers have attempted to sew the curtain back up! To make church neat and tidy and to keep God at a respectable distance again. Church at 11.15 each Sunday, maybe a Bible Study on a Thursday evening. That’s my Christian duty done!
Theological and religious constructs have constantly tried to restrict, to corral and control the freedom that the Good News of Jesus Christ brings to individuals. Churches formed with a genuine intent and sound doctrine, often skew into ‘extra biblical’ teaching and practice. Over time and generations these ‘extras’ quickly become part of a perpetuated, unquestioned and supressing tradition.
The religious leaders, the Pharisees we read about in the New Testament, were guilty of tying the Jews up in knots with dozens of extra rules and regulations of their own invention. Jesus was totally scathing of them!
In Mark, Chapter 7, Jesus makes these two important observations about the religious leaders:
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.’
13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.’
And so it can so easily be within today’s churches and denominations.
This is not of course a totally black and white picture. A Church fellowship will seldom have it all wrong, although it is most unlikely any have it all right either! But many true Believers end up hamstrung, their effectiveness to go into all the world and make disciples reduced and restricted by their church or denominational rules, traditions and practices.
Time for the Called Out to Step Out
It is surely time. Time for the, ‘Called Out Ones’, to actually step out, indeed back into the role and destiny for which Christ chose and commissioned them. To go out and make fellow Disciples, wherever they are to be found, home, street, City and to the ends of the earth! People who are themselves and mentors of others, who are radically Biblical and filled with power of The Holy Spirit. A people who do not have a religious bone in their body!
The enemy wants The Church of Jesus Christ to be ineffective. Satan loves it when we are all constrained in our safe little buildings, away from our God given purpose, to reach the lost and dying of our world.
It is surely time for you, and I, to get our scissors out and cut through any ‘curtain threads’ that we or others have sewn and which have restricted our Faith. Seek out, ask God to show you fellow Believers who also want to ‘go’, with whom you can fellowship, be sharpened from the Bible and the guidance of The Holy Spirit. Then ‘GO’!
Paul’s words from Ephesians 6 comes to mind:
The Full Armour of God
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11Put on the full armour of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13Therefore take up the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints. 19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it fearlessly, as I should.