Blog Archives

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

Acts of the Apostles [2:44-47]

         And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

         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, 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. [1]

         [SEE COMMENTS]


[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.

IRAN IN THE CROSSHAIRS! (Part 5)

         There are upwards of 100,000 Christian believers in the nation of Iran by conservative estimates. The number could be considerably higher. There is a solid Christian underground that meets primarily in private homes. Evangelistic activity is strong but very risky. Witnessing for Christ is illegal. 

         The state religion of Iran is Shia Islam. All other faiths are essentially against the law, though Christians are singled out for extreme prejudice and hostility. They  undergo discrimination in all areas, including housing, employment, and education.  The government engages in the arrest, imprisonment, and torture of Muslim converts to Christianity who sometimes pay the ultimate price for their faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus. Under the strict Islamist regime, forsaking Islam is a crime punishable by death. 

         As in many other hostile nations, Christians cannot meet openly and are forever subjected to suspicion and betrayal, even by family members. Since Iran is over 98% Muslim, almost all new Christian believers are former Muslims and are routinely hounded by those of their former religion. Secrecy is often a must for survival’s sake, yet house churches are often raided. Due to the strong faith of Iranian Christians in light of such strong persecution, the suffering and scattering of believers spreads the embers of Christian light to more Muslims hungry for truth. Iran is ripe for revival and there is in fact a strong awakening taking place in the country. Many of the people have access to Western media and it is only a matter of time until a strong Christian presence is established.

         This dynamic must be considered in light of the probable attack from Israel and Western forces that is currently in the making. Iran is a great restrictor of personal freedom, has a government-sponsored radical Muslim ideology, and makes no bones about its intentions. Iran is a powerful nation and has powerful allies who are pledged to varying degrees to supporting it against economic and military attack. These allies also share a general hatred of real Christianity though it be burgeoning in Communist China and India, as well as beginning to make an impact in other Muslim nations.

         Muslims are coming to Christ in very large numbers, though this fact is rarely revealed in the major media. It is an unprecedented movement throughout Islamic countries and among Muslim immigrant populations and the pioneers are paying the price. Yet the Lord teaches us to outlast the enemy through constant victorious faith regardless of harsh conditions, suffering, and an apparent lack of progress. We also know that persecution always results in greater numbers and deeper faith of believers. Islam is doing itself no favors by attempting to stomp out Christianity, as it is only making it grow.

         I remember being involved in the very early house church movement in America. I recall that the chief persecutors of the growing movement were not government authorities but established Christian churches, even those in the more “understanding” nondenominational sphere. Many churches co-opted the process by breaking their congregations down into home groups, but this is the opposite of true cell division. Some Christians went flat crazy against the movement much as radical Muslims do now. And it is for the same purpose maintaining strict religious control to protect the organization, even if the battle is against the Spirit of the Lord.

         Due to obvious circumstances in hostile environments, there is no other reasonable method for meeting to share the Gospel. The vastly expanding house church movement in America is indicative of God’s hand regarding our future. The community of the Lord was born in a house in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. The movement was illegal then also, both in Judea and throughout the Roman Empire. But the Gospel spread rapidly through small groups of dedicated believers and this very process is currently taking place in Iran.

         Christians should therefore be careful of getting sucked into anti-Iran and anti-Muslim war rhetoric and propaganda since Iranian Muslims are the seed bed of Christianity in that country.

         Though persecuted, our Iranian brothers and sisters are without doubt praying for their government leaders and those associated with fomenting the coming war, and are showing the love of God. They know war well in that the spiritual war has been raging in the region for decades. Iranian believers want to save fellow Iranians and their country for the Lord.

         Let us remember that “Iran in the Crosshairs” also means Iranian Christians in the crosshairs. Would God use His “chosen people” in Israel against His sons and daughters in Iran? Such things are always more complicated than they appear on the surface. The Word of God has the correct answer on how to approach the conflict and the various people groups involved. The Lord has Iran in His own crosshairs for His own purposes.

         Those who revoke and shoot down “Love Thy Neighbor” do so at their own expense.

         “All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” [Matthew 26:52][1]

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. [Part 5 of 5]        


[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.

THANKS TO ALL FOR READING AND SPREADING THE WORD