We have been looking at what the critics of the revolution will say to try and counteract the growing influence and impact of the revolutionaries on the Church as well as society and culture. The last blog dealt with the first of a number of very vocal criticisms. We saw that critics will argue that you must go to church – and they are referring to “church” as they define it. It would be good to reread that blog before continuing with this one as I continue to discuss this major concern.
As I mentioned last time, the same God who is more concerned with what’s in our hearts than about mindless observance of meaningless routines refuses to impose specific regulations about our religious practices. He wants us to use the creative abilities He entrusted to us to express in our own way how much we love Him and want to glorify Him.
In fact, there is not a verse in Scripture that links the concepts of worshipping God and a ‘church meeting.’ The Bible does not tell us that worship must happen in a church sanctuary and therefore we must be actively associated with a local church (as they define church). It simply tells us that we must worship God regularly and purely in spirit and truth. Take particular note of the fact that Jesus dismissed the organized worship of His day as “a farce” and intimated that we ought not be so limited as to how and when we worship God.
Mark 7:6-8 “And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
When the Samaritan woman asked about worship practices and places, Jesus responded bluntly that the place and the form of worship meant less to God than the heart and commitment. He noted that, “The time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem … But the time is coming – indeed it is here now – when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-23). He was highlighting the same foolish irrelevancies that traditionalists argue about today.
We are commanded to worship god, and we are encouraged to meet with other Christians for various purposes. However, as we follow the development of the new covenant and the related community of faith, notice that Jesus and His disciples provide few guidelines and commands regarding such meetings. The same God who is so specific about things that matter to Him and that are important for us has provided few details about the logistics of Christian assemblies. That silence suggests that we have freedom to develop the means by which we act as a united body of disciples, as long as we perform the functions of God’s chosen ones in ways that comply with His general guidelines of behaviour and the functioning of the body of believers.
And, let’s be loving but honest about what really goes on within the Body of Christ today. No informed Christian leader could ever make a straight-faced argument that involvement in a local church necessarily produces a more robust spiritual life than that seen among revolutionaries. Surveys tell us that Christians who are involved in local churches are actually less likely than revolutionaries to lead a biblical lifestyle.
We should also address one other reality: the Bible never describes “church” the way we have configured it. The Bible goes to great lengths to teach us principles for living and theology for understanding. However, it provides very little guidance in terms of the methods and structures we must use to make those principles and insights prevail in our lives. It seems that God really does not care how we honour and serve Him, as long as He is number one in our lives and our practices are consistent with His parameters. If a local church facilitates that kind of life, then it is good. And if a person is able to live a godly life outside of a congregation-based faith, then that, too, is good. Remember, Jesus looks at the fruit. “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit (Matthew 7:17-18).
True revolutionaries agree that being isolates from other believers – I.e., the Church (note the capital ‘C’) – is unbiblical. However, while they may not be integrated into a formal church congregation, they are not isolated from the Church. They may not belong to a specific collection of saints that engages in routines and customs at a particular location and under the leadership of a specific individual or group. However, neither are they spiritually untouchables who have no connection to the global Church. Every revolutionary I know have described a network of Christians to whom he or she relates regularly and a portfolio of spiritual activities which he or she engages in on a regular basis. This schedule of relationships and ministry efforts is the revolutionary equivalent of traditional congregational life – but better. These believers pursue the seven passions of a Christian revolutionary (discussed in detail earlier in this series of blogs) with a variety of people, in different forms and environments, but they are exuberant about their faith life. Compared to the “average” Christian I would say that the revolutionaries are substantially more Spirit-led, faith-focused, Scripturally-literate, and biblically obedient than their more traditional counterparts who are embedded within a congregation.