Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rearranging the Deck Chairs

It is claimed the current church is an institution. Some want to preserve the institution. Others want to destroy the institution to unleash the real power of God's people. Who is right?

It is interesting the New Testament has very little to say about the organization of the church. Now it needs to be made clear that the church is not the organization but the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23; 5:23; Colossians 1:18), into which all true believers in Christ are placed (Ephesians 2:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 12:4,5). Also, this body is to be organized (Ephesians 4:11-13; Hebrews 13:17; Titus 1:5), but beyond basic principles, such as that we are to have qualified leaders (1 Timothy 3:1-13), we are not given a lot of details.

God could have outlined the organization of the New Testament church in great detail. He did so for the divisions of the Levites in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 24-26). The fact God does not do this for the organization of the Christian church indicates He did not intend to. But if God was against organization, He would have commanded against it. I do not find any such commandments. I am forced to conclude that God, beyond the basic principles He has laid down, did not intend to command a specific form of church government. But if He has left it open, could it be this is because it is not that important?

Could it be that attempting to save the present church by tinkering with the organization is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? But the Christian church is not the Titanic, and though it is hit by iceberg after iceberg, it still does not sink. Could it be there is an invisible hand underneath holding it up? Could it be God is still in control of the world and of His church (Matthew 16:18; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 3:6,7)? Meanwhile, we are panicking and running around rearranging the deck chairs. Or insisting they not be rearranged. When what we really need is to trust God. I am not saying that there is nothing we can do to improve the present condition of the church. But it needs to be done with a calm confidence in God, not in a state of desperation. Also, it must be done with an eye for what is really important. And it requires the realization that it is not surprising if the world at large despises God's truth and His people (John 16:1-4; 1 Peter 4:12-15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25). Should we be surprised if the world does not respect us? Is that not what God promised us would happen? But while I would not want to hinder those who would realistically attempt to further God's work in the current world, we should not put much stock in the arrangement of the deck chairs.

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