“Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.”- Ephesians 2:20-21 (NLT)
It’s a bright, sunny Sunday morning and you have been blessed with greeting the people that enter the doors of the church building you are a member of. As “Good Morning, so glad to see you” is being repeated among everyone in the lobby, you notice a few men dressed in tunics and sandals walking up the sidewalk. You quickly go to the door and with your best smile and bulletin in hand you introduce yourself. “Good Morning friends. My name is (fill in the blank), welcome to our church. Here’s a bulletin to inform you on what our church is about and a guide to today’s service. What’s your name?” And with a weary smile from each you hear the names, John, James and Peter. They walk by you and take a seat….hmmm.
If the apostles were to show up in our church what would they think about how we all have been handling the church that Jesus Christ envisioned? Would they give credibility to the Vatican for their part in preserving Christianity or would they side with the Protestant Reformers for restoring the Gospel message back to its pristine purity? How would they feel about the Christmas plays we put our youth through by having them perform the events leading to the birth of Christ or, here’s one, what would their take be on the “Easter Bunny?” How about music? Would they prefer Fanny Crosby, the Gaither Vocal band, Hillsong or maybe take a chance with one of my personal favorites P.O.D?
In any case, I believe they would only be able to run all this through the basic foundation that they were given by Christ Himself. What they were essentially taught, trained and commissioned to do was to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a). I don’t believe there was discussion of denominational doctrine, although I believe that a doctrine was made pretty clear to them during the time they spent with Jesus.
The root for this doctrine is “that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:47) and that it did really begin in Jerusalem. AND if we were to take a look at what that early church looked like, you need not to go very much further than the Book of Acts 2:42-47. This is, in my opinion, the mainframe of the church. I don’t see anything in there that a band named “All The Lost Souls” performed in Herod’s Temple while Pastor Smiley Guy (you can figure out who that is on your own) gave a powerful message on the positivity of salvation in something or another and three thousand people gave their life to the idea that good stuff was just around the corner. Nope…don’t see it. What I do see is unity of community. What I do see is church.
Now don’t me wrong, there were traditions that the early church had to be worked through in order for it to be refined to what Jesus Christ designed it to be. I have been to many Bible Studies that went over what the Tabernacle was really meant to be. All those Jewish feast days had their place as tools for teaching the attributes of corporate worship, and let’s not forget that the early church saw themselves as a “remnant of Israel” as they were slowly finding out that they were no longer under The Law but were now under grace. The First Century church didn’t take that for granted, not like the Twenty First century church does today (yeah, I went there).
The next time I am with you, I will take a glance at what the Jewish folks had to work through and the conversion of the Gentiles from their paganism to relationship with a Triune God, but until then do the church a favor and pray for it. Pray for the leadership that guides it along its journey. Pray that they model themselves to be that church in Philadelphia that we read about in the 3rd chapter of Revelation. Pray that its foundation remains in Christ Jesus so that “the gates of Hades shall not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18b) and pray that the church will gain the discernment needed in these very troubling times. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.” — John Piper
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.” Psalm 4:1