Thursday, April 4, 2013

His Church, Not Ours

              I was reading through 1 Chronicles 9-12 and was intrigued by the number of men who came to David’s side to fight for him. As I was reading through the names of all the men, their ranks in the army and what they could do, I thought about us today, the Church. We too are an army, assembled by God the Father to fight for the gospel of Jesus Christ. As the last days approach more and more of us who stand firm in our faith are being persecuted and some are being put to death because of it. There is a mindset, I believe, that has caused the army of God to fall out of rank and made us vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
                As I was reading the names of all these men who pledged their skills to David, I thought about us as the Church, all of us have different gifts, we have given our lives to Jesus Christ, we have pledged our allegiance to the King of Kings and Lord or Lords. But, we have allowed pride to step in. As you know my husband and I are following the Lord’s leading and searching for a place to call home, a church home. As we have visited different churches, the one thing that I have seen is the difference in the people who attend. The messages are all the same, Jesus is Lord and we should follow Him, but the people are different. They are from different backgrounds, different denominations, and different areas of life all coming together to worship God the Father and praise the Lord Jesus. But there seems to be a pride for the church they attend. When in all truth, we, the people of God, are the church, the church is not the building we sit in, or the name and denomination hanging over the entrance. I am the church, you are the church. So why is there this desire to exalt one body of believers over the other?

                “For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos’, are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:4-6
                I see this division of believers more and more, and my brothers and sisters in the Lord, this ought not to be so. When we all get to heaven, it is not going to be Baptist on the right, Pentecostal on the left, Catholics to the back, and Non-Denominations to the front, and all other fall in behind. That is not going to happen- because we are all the same, we are all followers of Jesus Christ. So why then, is there this mentality that one church is better than the other? That one way of teaching the bible is better than the other? I believe, (and this is my opinion only) that because of our pride we have lifted up our church homes to be more than they are. Church does not save you, your pastor cannot save you, only Jesus Christ and Him crucified is what saves you.
                “For at that time they came to David, day by day, to help him, until it was a great army, like the army of God.” 1 Chronicles 12:22. The Lord God brought men of valor, mighty men (vs. 21) to David each and every day to assemble an army for Him; just as He does for each and every church and denomination that is meeting on a Sunday morning. When did we decide who was better than the other? Paul tells the people of Corinth that in their pride they have shown their carnality. It does not matter what church you attend on Sunday, or what style of teaching is being fed to you, the only thing that matters is Jesus Christ. For it is God who gives the increase daily to the Church, not the building in which you attend.
                I have seen women and men hurt by this pride for the building and denomination they attend. Some church bodies go as far as to talk down about other denominations. We have jokes that we tell about them, we turn up our noses when someone says they are of a different church than we are. We try to get them to come to our church, because ours is the better one. We have this idea that our church is the only true church, and if you do not belong to it then you obviously are missing the mark and not going to go to heaven.
                Paul tells us that we are carnal when we allow divisions and strife to come between the churches, not just the building you attend, but with the other denominations around you. “For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:3) Who gave us the right to decide which church gathering was better than the other? David had men of all ages, shapes, sizes, skills, from all over the land coming to him, he never made one more important than the other, and he needed them all. Jesus has people from all over the world coming to Him on a daily basis, seeking to serve Him, but instead of rejoicing in the growth of the church down the street, we turn up our noses and try to get more people into our doors, because we are the better church.
                We are all one body, one Spirit in Christ Jesus. (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:4) It does not matter what building you attend, what denomination you are, what matters is the One in whom you believe. We have allowed ourselves to exalt our pride for a denomination and/or building over the Church of Jesus Christ. This, I believe, causes God great sorrow. He desires unity and peace among the brethren, not divisions and pride which leads to broken relationships, broken fellowships, and His children being turned away from His Church, His Bride.
                We must be careful when we begin to exalt our church building above what it is- a building. We must be mindful that it is God who draws and it is God who leads His people. Your salvation came from the same place the church down the street came from. When we get to heaven, you are not going to be divided into ranks based on your denominations. Your church name, or denomination is not going to be the only body of believers that makes it to heaven either.
                We must come together, we must tear down these walls of pride and encourage and lift one another up. Stop the jokes, the snide comments about one another, let’s stop trying to draw people away from where they are, and let us learn to live in peace and unity, for if we can learn how to live it now, how much easier it will be for us when we get to heaven. Besides,  you may have to go stand beside that “other church down the street” when you get to heaven, instead of your body.  The only thing that matters to God in regards to His Church is that they love Him with all their hearts, souls and minds, and that they follow Him, worship Him and love His people. It is His Church, not yours.

                Let us come to a place where we rejoice in the growth of the churches, and fall back into the ranks of God’s army. For it because of Him we are in this army in the first place. When we allow pride to lift us up, to lift up our church above another, we are causing divisions and breaks in the army of God and the enemy can gain a foothold upon us. God has the victory; it is His Army, His Church, not ours.
                *As I was writing this morning, this song came into my head. Please take some time to listen to it, it reminds us and encourages us that we are all one Body, one Spirit in Christ Jesus, all marching to the same drum- the drum of Jesus Christ.