Let’s suppose that I had just read the book called Acts and after reading it had to ask this question, “Does the church I last went to look and function like the church I just read about?”
Now, suppose you just read the book too..
Does your church look at all like the church* of the book of Acts?
Maybe a little bit? Or…
If maybe not, then oh no. We’d better look the other way and push that picture out of our mind. We better push it out of reach and shove it across the border. Because, to really face that as reality might just push us out of our comfort zones. What if what we are currently doing in “church” hardly resembles the way the early church functioned? What if the traditions we’re holding on to is a dream of our own making? Shouldn’t we wake up?
Or… does it even matter?
Maybe it’s just too discomforting to contemplate, even for a second. If it is then we’d better walk away.
Come on. Let’s walk away. Let’s not go there…
I went there.
I took a look. And I am discomforted.
I took a look, I walked over to the edge and I dragged Normal Church, kicking and screaming, back across the border. I had to take another look, just in case what I had thought and had been taught was normal, might not be normal; that just maybe, according to Acts, normal American church is not so normal…
The dream is still haunting me.
Like a nightmare.
But I have managed to suppress the screaming, and the kicking doesn’t hurt as much as it used to.
I had another dream.
In my dream we, the “church”, that is, the body and bride of Christ, had discovered what it means to live in the fullness of Christ and walk as he walked, by the Spirit. When the people gathered as His ekklesia Jesus actually functioned as their sole head; His Holy Spirit was ever present and completely in charge. When the people came together they brought with them their spiritual gifts and each person was encouraged and given time and place to share what the Spirit was doing and saying in and through him or her; they came together and sang and prayed and prophesied… and the Spirit of God Himself orchestrated and directed them. The people gave place and precedence to Him by laying down their own lives and by honoring others as better than themselves.
The people gathered together often, they ate meals together, and shared the Lord’s Supper as a Love Feast of praise and worship in an atmosphere full of joy and celebration.
And the people gave freely as the Spirit directed them, without limitations or man made expectations. They willingly laid down their lives for one another, they knew how to lay down their lives, to deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow Jesus, and so they gave everything they had, everything they were, and every spiritual gift they had received from the Lord back to Him and to one another. Because they so loved the Lord and each other no one among them lacked for anything.
People saw themselves as equal partners in the Faith, each person being needed, each and everyone one uniquely gifted with something to contribute, so that no one would contemplate surviving in Jesus without the others. And no one among them lorded anything over any other, but each one submitted themselves one to another as unto the Lord. Each one was seen as an essential and equal part of the whole.
People acknowledged that the only hierarchy among them was this, that some had been walking in Jesus longer than others, they had grown deeper and had more to contribute, so those more mature ones were afforded the honor and life experience the Lord had given them. But Jesus alone was the head, and all others were fellow members of the Body, each one called and chosen, each a saint, a priest and minister, and fellow sojourner.
The people lived in and by the Life of Jesus, who was in the Father and the Holy Spirit as well, all experiencing the fullness of true fellowship and intimacy.
And among the people love ruled, with each person lifted up by the other, joined in unity in the Lord. And that love was so compelling that nothing in the world could compare to it, not even a little. And it was that love that was drawing others to Jesus and changing the world.
I had a dream…
It seemed so impossible.
But then again it seems so possible…
Then I woke up.
To this nagging nightmare:
I realized it had been mostly me that had been doing the kicking and screaming; it was mostly me that made the church not so normal.
~~A special thank you to Dan Edelen. <http://ceruleansanctum.com/2012/01/i-had-a-dream.html#.VAWEo_ldVCh>
His dream(plus more) is my dream…
- * Most of our bibles mistranslated the word ecclesia as “church” but ecclesia is really a gathered congregation or assembly of believers in Jesus. It is the gathering of a people, the people of God, the 2 or 3 and more, gathered with Jesus in their midst. If the word church (You know… Church, as used in this “normal” question,”Where do you go to church?”, i.e., What’s the location, where’s the building, what’s the name of the place you go to.) If the word church seems to you to be the acceptable and normal Book of Acts thing, I challenge you to do this: Check out the origins of the word church. It is found in the Bible only two times. It was used differently in William Tyndales’s translation of the New Testament two times to refer to pagan buildings used as a place for pagans to worship their lords or gods… It cost Tyndale his head(!), because by his time “church” was the politically empowered hiearchrial institution centered around buildings, as if they were the temples of the living God, the same God who in the New Covenant (Testament) revealed that his new dwelling place would not be temples made by men but would instead be a Spirit directed ecclesia, the gathered saints! That idea does not sit well with the traditions of much of, or maybe most of, the Church(so called).
The origin of the word “church” is kuriakon or kyriakon in Greek. The meaning is a building (the house of Kurios, or Lord).
Dictionaries give the origin of “church” as the Anglo-Saxon root, circe. Circe was the goddess-daughter of Helios, the Sun-deity. The word circe is related to “circus,” “circle,” “circuit,” and “circulate.”
Circe was originally a Greek goddess whose name was written and pronounced as Kirke. The word “church” is known in Scotland as kirk, in Germany as Kirche, and in Netherlands as kerk.