“Today’s churches provide the foundation and mechanisms for achieving Jesus’ purpose for our lives; for advancing the commission He assigned to His disciples. Or do they? What does Jesus think about this tool that has been constructed to achieve His ends?” That’s how I ended yesterday’s post. It might be helpful to read that post since it serves as a kind of introduction to what I’m writing today.
As I tried to point out yesterday, Jesus did not give instruction for who is allowed to have specific responsibilities within a church. Today I would like to talk about church structure in general. Churches have structure, assigned responsibilities, codes of conduct, mission statements, committees, leader groups, and programs; lots of programs. How does all of this play into Jesus’ mission statement for us?
Jesus told us: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Did Jesus tell us how to accomplish our mission and if so, does His method include the creation of organized churches? Did He tell us to build big church buildings, with committees and assigned responsibilities and a large collection of programs? Read His word and you will find, as I did, that Jesus did not give instruction for such things.
Don’t think for a moment that Jesus didn’t provide us with the best method for achieving His great commission. He did. And as with most of what Jesus told us, the method is deceptively simple. In reading through His word, what comes across time and again as the one way to preach the gospel?
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.“ (John 13:34-35) People will know we are Christian not by the grandness of the building we meet in, or the types of songs we sing while in our building, or by the fancy robes worn by those we call priest, pastor or minister. Others will know we are Christian by the love we express for each other; a love that so often is not apparent.
By our love for each other, be unified… as Jesus prayed to His Father:
“Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name – the name you gave me – so that they may be one as we are one.” (John 17:11b)
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.“ (John 17:20-23)
Be unified by our love, and give the world reason to believe in Jesus. That’s how it’s done. And you don’t need a big organized church for that. In fact, all a church does is distract us from the simple reality of the power of love.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) We don’t bear fruit or achieve His mission by taking a seat in a large organized church.
What’s my point? Just this: the church with all its rules, traditions, assigned responsibilities, committees, and programs is “meaningless, a chasing after the wind”, as Solomon poetically expressed in Ecclesiastes. When it comes to doing God’s work, spreading His word, and making disciples of all nations; the only thing that has meaning is love – love for God and Jesus, a love for each other; a love that brings us together in unity.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
For a much more in-depth look at the brokenness of the organized church, check out the Jesus4King – The Spiritual Revolution web site. I highly recommend it.