What is church? What about the structures? Where do we go from here?
Greg Austin has some excellent answers to those questions. If you haven’t read his stuff yet, you can find him here.
“While some folks (who shall remain nameless) want to assign you to the religious scrap heap, believing that you’re just “backslidden” or part of the prophesied “great falling away,” some of us see something else happening. Something frightening and at the same time encouraging and hopeful.”
What is church?
The church is literally “The body of Christ.” It is first, Jesus Himself, and then by extension, every human being who has experienced the New Birth and has become a follower of Jesus.Did you know that the church – the true embodiment of Jesus – the Vehicle of God’s revelation and grace in the earth – the church of the living God functioned and thrived and grew for nearly four hundred years after Jesus’ ascension into heaven without ever owning one, solitary “church building?”
It’s true! The “church” experienced incredible growth, vitality and life without ever possessing the property of a building!
What about the structures?
The Reformation, while it changed the focus of theology and abandoned some of the practices of the Holy Roman Church did little if anything to change the structure – the governmental form, liturgical practice and the hierarchical form of the clergy. So there was a Reformation of Theology, but a Reformation of Structure was (and is) still needed.
We must be patient while pointing the way. We must allow God to do what man cannot do. To attack the institution of the church is to waste away precious time and energy and faith, and to bring injury to the Body of Christ. Use your zeal to point to the future and not to denounce the past.
Where do we go from here? What is the future?
The One Who promised, “I will build My church…” is at work fulfilling His promise. We see what others may not yet see. We hear what others cannot perceive. We envision the change. We have touched God’s heart and He has touched ours and has shown us the way.
So we lean upon Him. We desperately reject old ways and old systems – not out of rebellion or out of caustic anger – but out of desperate desire to know Him, to see Him, to abide with Him.
We must, if we are to know the “there I am in the midst of them” promise as reality, cling wholly and only to Him, with…open and waiting hearts until He comes and reveals to us His ways and His order that is without confusion and is filled with peace.
What things do we have to let go of to make our vision a reality?
God chooses to fill simple and plain human beings with Himself and send these “agents of heaven” into the world to preach good news.God is at work in us personally and in His church corporately wrestling away our comfortable conventions so that He can replace them with a Living, Breathing, Life-Giving Church that will shine His light into the lives of men everywhere.
I hope you hear the encouragement and affirmation in Greg’s words that I hear.