I love Aussie John (from “caesura“). Love him! I wish I could afford to fly to Australia and spend a few days, or weeks, or months talking with him and learning from him. Since he started commenting on this blog a few years ago, he has made it a richer experience for myself and my readers.
Last weekend, he published a post called “Is it possible?” He begins by asking if what we call “Christianity” today is actually the greatest enemy of Christ. Strong words, yes, but perhaps strong words like this are necessary at times.
Towards the end of the post, he touches on a subject that is very dear to my heart: the church. He writes:
The Scriptures do reveal the characteristics of the churches of New Testament times, and the principles by which they functioned, yet we certainly do not have a clear, indelible blueprint according to which churches are to be set up or formed!
With all our sincere desires and efforts to have a “New Testament church”, is it possible that all we are actually achieving is the development of a myriad of other systems, or sects, with differing sets of legalistic rules, traditions, and regulations, sectarian bigotry, and remaining as spiritually lifeless as those we have left behind in the trash-can of our experience of searching for the church that suits our imaginings or tastes.
There is only ONE Church, the one Jesus is building, which is a dynamic living organism, from which rivers of living water flow. Its source is ONLY in the person of Jesus Christ. And built upon the cornerstone of His practice and completed work.
His church is totally dependent on Him through the working of His Holy Spirit in its members.
I’m often asked, “Why do you remain associated with a denomination (and I am) if you believe that denominations tend to divide the church (and I do believe that)?” Why? Because the people who are part of this denomination are my brothers and sisters in Christ and are, therefore, part of the church that Jesus is building.
I’m often asked, “Why do you continue to carry out some of the traditional rituals/practices if you believe that these are not necessary and may hinder spiritual growth?” Why? Because the people who have chosen to continue using these practices are my brothers and sisters in Christ and are, therefore, part of the church that Jesus is building.
I’m often asked, “Wouldn’t it be better to move away from this organization and/or denomination and start with a clean slate and meet in a manner that you think is more like the characteristics of the church that we see in the New Testament?” No, it is better to remain in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are part of the church that Jesus is building.
No, the buildings and systems and hierarchies and programs and activities and rules and confessions and denominations are not the church. But, those people are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and they ARE the church.
There is one church. Separating from our brothers and sisters in Christ – even because we don’t agree with how they understand the church – is not the answer. The answer is living together in the fellowship of the Spirit and in the church that Jesus is building, in spite of our differences.
Thank you, Aussie John, for reminding us of this great truth in Jesus Christ!