My postman (he was not our regular one) greeted me today with, “It is a beautiful day the Lord has given us”. I answered, “All the days He gives us are beautiful”. Having established our brotherhood in the Kingdom he next asked where I go to church. I replied that I don’t go to church but was beginning to be involved in simple church, and in fact we are praying about establishing a house church in our home.
With eyebrows raised He asked on whose authority we would do this. I said, “Well since Jesus in the head of the church and I serve Him I guess it is by His authority.” He didn’t buy that at all and launched into a lecture on hierarchical structure. He asked if we have a bishop, or pastor or elders, I said we have none of those at the moment and that elders probably would emerge once we actually began meeting. I tried to describe that each one would participate through the exercise of their spiritual gifts as the Holy Spirit led. He couldn’t understand how that could happen without a professional clergy guiding and directing.
By this time I am wondering why when two followers meet for the first time that the focus of our discussion isn’t of the joy of knowing Jesus. I was starting to begin to feel like he was going to ask to see my papers as he took me away to be questioned. I tried to lighten the discussion by offering that my definition of an elder is the person who prays with their eyes open just to keep a protecting watch on things. With that comment I had in his mind crossed over into heresy.
Now he thought it was best to teach me the importance of foundational doctrine. After we were sure we were not in any doctrinal error there might be some small chance of gathering without actually committing sin by doing so. I suggested that attempts at doctrinal accuracy were precisely why we have a divided body with thousands of groups in dis-fellowship with each other. He actually said that there were scriptures that encouraged these “factions”. I stood my ground on this one and said that I am sure it grieves the Lord that some of His children could not accept some of His other children.
I dared to suggest that our focus should be on Jesus and our calling would be to love one another. The evidence of our success would be the recognition of that love by those we came into contact with. He agreed that “loving one another” was something we could do but true love was doctrine properly understood, applied and enforced.
By this point I knew I was in the presence of a modern day Pharisee. I suggested that I may never preach or teach doctrinal subjects again but only how much God loves us and how He wants us to love others, and once we have mastered that we could move onto other things.
He then asked what we would do if someone didn’t believe in the orthodox teachings on the trinity, virgin birth, communion, etc. I told him that people are free to believe whatever they want; my calling was to point them to Jesus though love. If some ones expression of their doctrine was disruptive to a gathering several of those present would suggest they take a spiritual time out regarding the divisive topic.
I went on to suggest that having the Word (Jesus) in me was my foundation. To me that is the most tangible, the most concrete reality in my life. Everything else is temporary or shadow. He is Light, He is Love. He (the postman) knew the words, I know the Word (Jesus). The postman studyed the words written about the Word; I live in relationship with the Word. The postman knew about Jesus, I know Jesus.
Just for the fun of it I suggested he read The Shack. Actually I don’t think he will once he sees the book is on the Christian fiction shelf. We had talked for about 30 minutes and by now I was exhausted, Pharisees are so draining. It is so much easier sharing the love of Jesus with meth heads, hookers and serial killers.
I wished him well in his journey and asked him to read John 5:39-40 "You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want.
I am sure that I will be on his “church” heretic list, but that’s ok.
When I was in Bible College we used to pray, “Lord please don’t send me to Africa”, now I pray, “Lord please don’t send me anymore Pharisee’s”.
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