“JESUS IS THE CENTER”
Jesus Over Form Must Be The Center of The Current Authentic Church Movement
The trap that seems to be all too successful in snaring the Christian who desires an “Authentic Community” situation, seems to be, that such a God bestowed desire can be idolized to the point of deification of an ideal image. Such an ideal can drive a man into manipulation, which is to cleverly craft that which is God must create. But, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Pslam 127.1). Jesus said, “…upon this rock I WILL BUILD my church” (Matthew 16.18). The Lord added to the number of the early church (Acts 5.14).
Manipulation, driven by the idol of an ideal has eclipsed the Lord’s presence and thus exited man from the very possibility of Spiritual prosperity in the matter, “as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26.5). It is not the pursuit of an “Authentic Church” situation that will invoke the very shower of heaven, but the pursuit of the person and presence of the Spirit.
Ironically, the argument of the modern “Authentic Church” movement is this, “I just want to follow the bible.” In stating and standing with such a noble motivation, there is the neglect of a major Spiritual truth, that in the Spiritual means to establish the first church, namely, the divine pattern laid out in the Scriptures, the church was not implemented but irrupted from an outpouring of the Spirit. The arrangement of seats in a meeting, whether a pulpit is used, scheduled services or not – the main ingredient and chief qualification is the presence of the Spirit, producing genuine love for Jesus and as a result genuine love for one another. The desire of the Lord for His church is not a specific form but a result of His pursued person. The lack of “Authentic Community” in our midst is to the degree that our hearts are not in position to the power of the Spirit. Not the form in which we gather.
There was a young boy who decided to walk through the woods one day after school. In his pocket was a little Swiss Army knife that his father had memorably given to him on his last birthday. And he walked down a worn trail in the woods, extending his hand to touch the leaves as he passed them; he saw a strange thing on one of the closest branches to him. It was a cocoon, a caterpillar to butterfly cocoon. As his interest brought him closer and closer to it, he noticed that the butterfly was struggling intensely to get out of the cocoon. He stood by and watched, with a hurting heart for this struggling butterfly, he watched and waited until he could no longer bear his struggling. He reached into his pocket, took out his Swiss Army knife and sliced open the cocoon to aid the release of the butterfly into the freedom of the air. To his sorrow and amazement he saw the that other half of the struggling butterfly had not yet developed enough to be released and it fell to the ground, half mucus and other half butterfly. In sorrow he took the butterfly home to his father and said, “Dad, I tried to help this butterfly out of his cocoon and I think I hurt him.” His dad, judging by the site of the butterfly and having learned from experience, said to his son, “Son, it is the butterflies growth to work his way out himself. If you help him, he won’t ever make it.”
We cannot manipulate those things that God must do Himself. If salvation is God’s hands alone so are all His other works. We look to Him. We keep our focus on the person of God and love people to the degree of maturity we are in now and we will position ourselves to receive the breath of the Spirit that alone performs those works that are His alone to do.
Many things in the “Authentic Church” movement are powerful and correct. Organic is the grounds of growth, but the last thing God is after is form. The last thing He has is an outward guide line that must be followed. The same way He is against a religious heart that holds to form without power, He is not for a movement that holds to form over Person.
The devil is a master deviator. He is after anything that will distract us from receiving from the Person of Jesus. The formal and informalities of Church are irrelevant. Jesus worshipped and adored, honored and preached, loved and experienced is the heart of life in a fellowship. The inevitable consequence of such a life will be love toward one another. John told us that the evidence of love for God is the outflow of love for others (1 John 4.20). Jesus leading a family knit together by the power of the Spirit in love – whatever form it has, be it, choirs with robes, pulpits and prayer teams or a simple house gathering, is God’s desire.
The heresies of the devil all start with the a portion of truth but focus on part rather than the whole. As David Ravenhill so wisely stated, “Nothing is more likely to lead to error or heresy than to focus on part rather than the whole. Never let the means of worship eclipse the object of worship.”
The danger of the rebellion against the systems of men is isolation, elitism and unreachability. All of which, reek with the stench of pride. And turn God’s face against you (James 4.6). It is leaning upon what you have come to learn more than on the person of Jesus that creates such subtle dispositions of arrogance. If a man separates himself form the body that God has placed him in and the leadership he has been connected to because his “knowledge of Authentic Church” is greater than the Pastor’s, he is in a self centered land and is not internally in keeping with the quality of love that, “…bears all things…”(1 Corinthians 13.7). It is not in keeping with the selfless love of the cross. The brokenness of love, this is why, love is the perfect bond of unity (Colossians 3.14). “A man who isolates himself, seeks his own desire” (Proverbs 18.1). He is selfish and not selfless. Let us not reject God’s character in the name of God’s “authenticity.”
Another sneaking defilement is the twisting of “priesthood of all believers” founded upon 1 Peter 2.5-9. The perversion is the mindset that there is no need for positional subordination, nor does there exist a specific grace for the equipping and sheparding of God’s people upon His appointed leaders. Now it is a wonderful glory that we are all priests connected to God in the same way, but to resists positional subordination and grace to train and equip upon faithful individuals is to look past God’s order into the face of an idol of partial truth and heretical idealism.
The man who uses 1 John 2.27, “you have no need for any man to teach you…” as a basis to remove himself from authority and teaching is neglecting Ephesians 4.11 as the balance of such a truth. God has established teachers to “…equip the body for the work of the ministry.” The early church dedicated themselves to the apostles teaching (Acts 2.42). I heard a friend say one time, using this Scripture, “I don’t need a teacher.” I am fearful that such a statement is partial and board line foolishness. If a man sees himself to be wise, there is more hope for a fool than for him (Proverbs 26.12; 29.20). If such a man has been corrected and he refuses to yield, soon he will be broken beyond remedy (Proverbs 29.1; 12.1). Such dispositions are an arrogant assault against the character of God in the name of Christ.
During the time period of extreme segregation, there was a man who sold balloons to both blacks and whites. A white little boy purchased a white balloon from the man with a black boy standing next to him. When the white boy reached out to grab the balloon he lost control of it and the white balloon soared into the heavens. The black boy watched the white balloon ascend to the heavens and then looked at the balloon man and said, “If you made me a black balloon and I lost it, would it go up into the heavens just like that white balloon?” And the balloon man said, “Sure, it isn’t the color of the balloon, but what is inside the balloon that makes it go up.”
It is not the package that God is concerned with, but the heart. We are not building something for Jesus to inhabit, but looking to Jesus collectively and letting Him build us as He wishes.
This is what God is after, people, loving Jesus with people who love Jesus and as a result, loving each other.
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