March 11, 2008

Who's your covering?


I was asked today what church I attended, and replied that we were just the simple church which currently met in each others homes, instead of institutionally organized assemblies. The response was a new one: Who is covering your church?

Interesting question, and it cuts to the heart of who is to lead and protect the Body of Christ, that is the Church. The simple and true answer is that Jesus himself is leading and covering our assemblies. He MUST because if he didn't we would all strive against one another, fight , disagree, fall apart, and go our separate ways. We are completely dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit to do what he has promised. Teach, rebuke, correct, instruct, and bring us all into agreement. One mind, one accord, and one Spirit must be the reality if we are to function together, and this is the exhortation of the Apostle Paul throughout his letters.

The beauty of this is that it is something that the world and the natural mind cannot understand. The natural way of thinking is to recognize the need for a government, and begin to build one like the rest of the world has. Set up an organization, choose leaders, set up rules for governing and processes for keeping the peace when people disagree. People can function together without agreement in Jesus because there are other leaders, traditions, organizations, and laws to agree about. When we disagree we can appeal to the doctrinal statement, the head leader (pastor, priest, minister...choose your mediator), or even a majority vote. If for some reason those tools fail, we can simply divide and build a distinct organizational government with a separate identity(denomination).

This isn't the first age where the people who were called by God's name set up their own governments and systems of religion. Remember the nation of Israel's desire to have a king just like every other nation, even though God desired to lead them Himself. God let them have what they wanted, but they had to eat all the bad fruit that resulted from their decision. Ultimately the nation was led astray and brought into captivity. Worse yet, the later generations had no remembrance of what true worship was. The system set up by the Pharisees, Scribes, and religious leaders of Jesus day weren't any more successful, and only served to set up strongholds against a knowledge of God.

I am thankful for the scriptures which allow us to repent and undo the works of the deceiver. It is frightful to realize that deception has always occurred on such a grand scale,and is certainly no better in these the last days.

There is one name under heaven by which we are called to unite under...JESUS, and no other.
The scriptures instruct us to be of one mind, one accord, and one Spirit. We either walk by faith and pursue true fellowship with all its inherent risks and rewards, or we become afraid and create systems just like those of the world.

The beautiful thing about a true and faithful assembly is that it REQUIRES God for us to survive. We must seek him continually just to continue functioning as a body...no artificial substitutes. He says he is able to sustain us while we, as the body, believe him and act according to faith.

So back to the original question... I too feel the need for the security which comes from having a covering, a leader to guide us in the way we should go. Christ says that he covers his Church in the same way a husband covers his wife. I believe him, and want to be covered by him. Without having stepped out in faith I can testify that I would have missed the opportunity to plunge into the mystery that is Christ's Church.

Be covered by Christ or be covered by man? I Choose Christ!
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