THE CURRENT SHUTDOWN: AN OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER AND PRACTICE ORIGINAL CHRISTIANITY

woman doing hand heart sign

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They had no church buildings. They had no New Testament. They had no professional clergy. And still, they turned the world upside down.

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This is a difficult concept to grasp for many Christians. It sounds subversive. It appears incorrect. The reality of the matter, however, is that the early 1st century believers were acting exactly in accordance with the Lord’s teachings. They did just what He told them to do. They taught what He taught. They practiced what He practiced. It is not their methods which were odd and non-Scriptural, but those of today. They were not the rebels but the perfect example. Those who refuse to follow their example or engage in their methods are the actual rebels.

And He wasn’t far away from those early believers in a distant unknown heaven but right there with them bringing forth the spiritual fruit of His Word:

And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. [Mark 16:20][1]

THE REAL HIERARCHY

Actually, there isn’t any legitimate Christian hierarchy. There is the Lord Jesus, who has all authority in heaven and earth, which of course, is all the authority there is, and then there are His followers who all exist on the same spiritual plane, equal to one another, below Him. He is the only Leader, Master, and King. If such can be described as a hierarchy then it is the only one that exists in His Kingdom.

There is no legitimate middle man group or professional clergy. What there actually is are all Christian believers at various stages of spiritual maturity. Some have reached full maturity but this does not mean they have license to rule over other believers. The Lord made it very clear that all believers were equal with no one ruling over them except Him. He said the more spiritual maturity one gained the more of a servant he must be. Thus, if anything, there should be a reverse hierarchy in which the spiritual giants among us should navigate to lower and more humble stations rather than climb an ecclesiastical power ladder. Rather than a raised platform or stage there should be a hole in the ground. This is merely Christian Spirituality 101. Humility is a door.

I’m not keeping track of how many churches have suspended their services. I assume it is a great percentage. The leaders thereof were given orders to shut down and dutifully complied. One wonders if this would have happened without the internet, because it is largely internet streaming on various platforms keeping many churches going. There is nothing essentially wrong with this but Christians in general are still not seeing the big picture.

BOGUS TALKING HEAD MINISTRY

About a dozen years ago I was invited to a church service by a friend. I had never been there before. We drove up and parked in a large parking lot. We entered a large traditional church building. There were people milling around in the foyer and a central station where one could get some coffee. All normal things. We entered the usual large auditorium with standard pews and found a place about half way down on the right. After getting settled and looking around, however, I noticed for the first time something really odd. After the worship service it became odder. Instead of a pulpit or a preacher up there on the platform there was a big screen. It suddenly came on and there was a guy on the screen. This was the pastor. He was preaching from a remote location. There were three other churches connected to the transmission doing exactly as we were.

It was absolutely weird, and believe me, I am aware of most of the weird things about Christian practices in general, but had yet to experience such a thing. Here was a guy in a small studio somewhere preaching to a camera with the feed going into his four “churches” and everyone in those four churches were dutifully watching him on a screen. I was generally nice to my friend but let it be known that I thought it was a tad strange. In my heart I knew it was absolutely ridiculous but again, I was nice. I sat there and went through the motions with everyone else but the entire time was wondering how all these people could possibly put up with Mr. Big Brother up there in this weird 1984 style “church.” Everyone could have just stayed home and watched it on the net. Or gathered in small groups in homes. There was no need for the four church buildings and the great expenses they incurred. All that money could have been spent on, oh, I don’t know, maybe people?

AN AWAKENING

Which brings us to the present. All over America former church goers have been forced by strange unprecedented circumstances to stay home from church and watch their pastor or maybe a small service of a few online. So far, people seem to be getting what they need and are greatly enjoying themselves. Some states have ordered, from what I understand, only small groups of ten or less, even in private homes. This is actually about the perfect size of a home group. I would think that after several weeks under these circumstances the innovative intelligent Christians out there would figure out a way to minister to one another and take care of one another and soon discover a brand new method for organic Christianity.

Please stick with me here because this will sound really weird. What if Christians simply did their Christianity at home? And among their neighbors? What if they opened up their Bibles and shared with each other? And prayed for one another? And what if they organized a method to meet each other’s needs and the needs of their neighbors? I have seen many reports of people doing very strange things like collecting groceries and supplies and giving them away. One older woman who likes to sew was making surgical masks for the hospitals or for individuals to wear personally. When you start searching out such events it will astound you what is actually going on out there nationwide. There are apparently millions of good hearted people who have suddenly been released into various unofficial ministries more than happy to do whatever they can to help and provide. Rather than suppress ministry the current shutdown has actually promoted it. This is great news.

It is starting to look like 1st century Christianity out there!

© 2020 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.   


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

NOTE: Please see my friend Barb’s site, My Life in Our Father’s World, for this great post of current ministry in action: A SMALL ACT OF KINDNESS

Posted on March 22, 2020, in Current Events and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Yes and Amen! thank you RJ! thank you Abba Father and Your Lamb!
    Our true home is IN Christ, the place He prepared for us, and comes to us when Christ is in us, and is the Home of the Father and His Christ (John 14:1-17:26)! “I have given to them the glory that you gave Me, that they may be one and perfectly united, that the world may know and recognize that You sent Me and love them as You love Me. Father I desire that they also may be with Me where I am…I will continue to make You known in them, that the Love which You have bestowed on Me may be in them [felt in their hearts] that I Myself may be in them” John 17:22-26 AMPC. His Kingdom and Righteousness are found within us through the Holy Spirit when we make Him King of kings and Lord of lords over our home, life, spirit and soul and body; we become the church when Christ makes our body God’s holy temple where the Holy Spirit dwells; God’s House, a house of prayer, praise, worship and glory: the actual, real, powerful, life-changing, transforming glory of Christ believed, received and known, to the glory of God our Father!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the thought of being like the 1st century Christians. Back to a time when the people were the church & they didn’t need a particular location to preach the word or serve others.

    Thanks for the share.

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    • You’re welcome, Barb. And regarding the times, we are getting there. I have been following this for decades and doing much research. I have written books about it. Astounding changes for the better have been happening. The Lord is directing. It’s a challenging transition because I believe He wants to keep everyone together. Too much change too soon won’t work. Hearts must be prepared. Plus, there is a great amount of opposition. But again, we are getting there. Your post is an excellent example of doing something seemingly simple but with a big impact that reaches people and gives them something they don’t have. People need the Lord and want Him but are out of the loop and under social pressure to clam up. Such efforts reach hearts. Keep up the great work. Blessings to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A small group my husband and I are a part of have been discussing this very thing before it took place. You might enjoy reading Frances Chan’s book, Letters to the Church. It puts me in mind of your post.

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  4. RJ, this post got lost in a flood of other emails. In cleaning it all up earlier today, I found this and just finished reading it. So glad I found it! Couldn’t agree more. While it’s true that God gave us specific guidance in establishing His church in most of the Pauline epistles, it is also true that Paul took part in those “house churches” that were the foundation for larger groups later on. God said that everything we do should be done “decently and in order” (I Cor. 14:40). When our churches become a reflection of our political behavior, there is very little decency or order. We are to be guided by biblical principles, and nothing else.

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    • Thanks Linda. Glad it blessed you. Here is the verse you noted:

      Let all things be done decently and in order. [1Corinthians 14:40 KJV]

      But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner. [1Corinthians 14:40 NASV]

      I don’t recall doing a study on that particular word before but the results are enlightening. The word I refer to is “order.” It is from the Greek root taxis which as used in context is taxin. The NASV renders it “orderly manner.”

      What I found is that it occurs in the NT ten times in nine verses. In eight of those occurrences it refers specifically to priestly order, such as in Luke 1:8 referring to Zacharias, and seven times in the book of Hebrews, six referring to the “order of Melchizedek” and once to the “order of Aaron.” The other occurrence is in Colossians 2:5 which the NASV translates as “good discipline.” Here is the KJV:

      For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

      In 1Corinthians 14:40, therefore, Paul is using it the same way the priests would for doing ministry in the correct and prescribed orderly manner. It does not necessarily denote a particular Christian convention or downplaying the dynamic work of the Holy Spirit, but conducting meetings according to the proper orderly arrangement which allows the Lord to be the conductor and director so the fullness of ministry can occur. Paul uses this last verse to tie up everything he wrote about in Chapter 14 regarding the use and operation of spiritual gifts, such as prophecy and tongues. He also mentions others:

      What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. [1Corinthians 14:26 NASV]

      I also agree on the other point you made about politics invading church services. The original meetings in the early Church were strictly for ministerial purposes. They operated through koinonia which is defined as “mutual ministerial sharing.” This means the people in the meetings operated in their gifts and shared them so all would be edified and all needs would be met. We don’t see this anymore in many church services which means they are something other than what they should be.

      I appreciate your comment. It inspired me to do this study. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • And it makes complete sense in that context. Order, of course, like everything else, was created by God. Without it, the physical universe would be in chaos. It applies to every aspect of life, including church services, marriage, rearing children. . . .could be a very long and very interesting list 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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