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April 08th, 2009 | Author:

Beginning today, the Word for Wednesday meme has moved from the Mohawk Valley Christians blog to this blog, and you are invited to participate.

Just pick a scripture passage that means something to you right now, copy it into a post with as much or as little commentary as you choose, and put a link to that post in Mr. Linky below. It’s that easy, and you may never know whose heart God touched because you took the time to share His Word.

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One of the most quoted passages in the Bible has been dubbed “The Great Commission.” It consists of the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before he ascended into heaven, as recorded in the gospel of Mark:

And he said unto them, go ye into all the world and build church buildings in My Name. Make them large and use only the most expensive materials. Compel people to come to them once a week and give you money to a) maintain the buildings and b) maintain you in the style to which you would like to become accustomed. Use whatever methods work best to get the people in: manipulation, guilt, seduction, legalism, entertainment. Tickle their ears with all the words they want to hear. Under no circumstances should you preach anything that might offend, or you will lose your source of support.

I hope you’ve figured out by now that this is not what Jesus said. What He said was much simpler:

Go ye into all the world,
and preach the gospel to every creature.

In the New Testament, there is not one mention of a specially-designated church building – not one. Every time the word “church” is used in the Bible it refers to people … people who are filled with the Holy Spirit and saved by grace.

I think the simple fact that almost all churches today have a special building to meet in contributes to many of the problems we see:

  • It often leads to idolatry of the building and its contents
  • It requires much of the time and money that could be used for real ministry
  • It separates the spiritual from the rest of our lives, making it easy for many to relegate God to a special time and place
  • It separates “clergy” from “laity,” elevating preachers above their congregation, leading many to assume they are not accountable to their fellowship – and some of them to get enormously swelled heads
  • The layout in most buildings contributes to a “performance” mentality: the select few stand in front, everybody else sits silently until cued to sing … and nobody worships in spirit and truth

I think the best thing that could happen to the church in America is if someone systematically went around and blew up all the church buildings (making sure there was no one inside, of course) and then all the insurance companies refused to settle the claims. Real Christians would be forced to meet wherever and whenever they could. Those who “go to church” every Sunday seeking social acceptability or out of habit would probably just stay home … and that could only strengthen the church body.

Okay, okay. I don’t really want to create the next unibomber, so I’ll retract that last paragraph and just suggest that hungry Christians start meeting in each other’s homes as the early church did … and worship in spirit and truth.

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. “AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.
(Revelation 18:4-5)

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