For the past year, it has taken us about 35-40 minutes to get to church on Sunday morning. Ordinarily, that same drive only takes about 25-30 minutes. I guess you could call it Sunday morning’s version rush hour traffic. You see, between our house and church, there are 14 churches.
Fourteen churches all with a unique vision, a unique story, gifted servants, but probably a fairly common mission. Of those 14 churches, most of them (if not all) are some denomination of the Christian faith at large. I haven’t taken the time to review all of their doctrine, but what little I do know of them as denominations, I know that they each believe in the inerrant Word of God, they each believe in God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. As well as many other common basic beliefs. So, lately my heart is stirred and at unrest and I beg the question, “Why all the division?”
I know that I am not the first person to ask this question or ponder the unrest that this produces in my soul. Certainly scholars, both religious and non religious, have spent life times studying this subject. There are walls of books on it. But, listen, I’m no Bible scholar and I’m not looking for a degree in religious studies, I’M JUST A JESUS GIRL WHO WANTS TO SERVE.
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
When I spend time reading about and considering what the first church must have been like, I don’t think of a building with offices and gyms. I don’t think of kitchens and massive stages with lighting and sound systems. I think of people who were so consumed with the fire that Jesus had set ablaze inside them, that they couldn’t stand to not be in fellowship to discuss it. I imagine that once the Spirit settled in their souls they almost literally had a glow that could not be ignored by passers by. I believe that what they experienced and lived out, was something that we in Western society, have never witnessed. We have made church be what we want it to be, even setting and changing rules, standards and doctrine so that it would fit into our worlds.
I do wonder what has happened to God’s Church. But please don’t misunderstand me. I understand that there is a place for things like offices, gyms, kitchens and stages. I get that. I have been drawn in myself to churches that have enough resources to build these things and listen…They are reaching people with the Gospel message. Praise God! I have served joyfully at churches that don’t have buildings, but have resources that are hauled on trailers week after week. They too, are reaching out to lost souls and drawing them in to receive a little dose of Jesus. And I have met with God on proverbial mountain tops with nothing but the sound of voices, maybe some instruments, but often silence, right smack in the middle of God’s creation. No walls, no pews, no stage, no nothin’…No distraction!
Sure, I understand that with no venue, lost souls are less likely to show up! I’m not suggesting that the walls of every church in America should come tumbling down. Not literally, anyway. Figuratively? Now that’s something to consider…