Many people are having their eyes opened to the issues with the structure of the modern church. The “system” as some call it. Things like the clergy/laity divide, the way churches are run like businesses, and the inch-deep relationships.
I have been living outside the “system” for six years now. Four and a half of those six years have been spent living in community with others together under the headship of Christ. Pursuing Christ, experiencing Christ, expressing Christ.
Something I’ve seen over these six years is that you can leave the system but that doesn’t mean that the system has left you. Behind all the external issues with the “system” is the true problem. You see, the reason the system doesn’t work is because it is man’s effort to handle God’s things. It is man’s ideas and preferences, his creativity and imagination, his solutions to the problems of the world.
But the Church was never meant to be man’s, it is only and ever God’s. The Church is to be the one place on earth where it is God’s ideas and preferences, creativity and imagination, and solutions to the problems of the world that are expressed. In short, the Church is meant to express God’s life, NOT man’s.
That’s the thing: in the Church there is no room for anything that is of man. This is actually the life that Jesus lived on earth. He let nothing be out from Himself. He received everything from the Father, every moment of every day. Christ submitted all His ideas and preferences, His creativity and imagination, and His solutions to the problems of the world, to the Father. He submitted His LIFE to the Father. Christ chose each and every moment to deny Himself and to instead live out the Father’s ideas and preferences, the Father’s creativity and imagination, and the Father’s solutions to the problems of the world. Christ chose to live by the Father’s life.
This is why Christ Jesus IS the Church. Christ is the perfect expression of the Father’s will. The Church is to be the perfect expression of the Lord’s will. This is why God united the Church to Her Lord in perfect oneness. So that now, the Church will be the vessel that denies Herself and instead lives out the Lord’s ideas and preferences, the Lord’s creativity and imagination, and the Lord’s solutions to the problems of the world. The Church is to live the Lord’s life.
This is also why the Church isn’t the people. I’ve heard it said many times that the Church isn’t a building, it’s the people, and I totally get the sentiment. The Church isn’t a building we go to. The Church is built out of living stones; people. However, you can have people, christians, and still not have the Church. You can have people sitting together in a living room talking about God, singing songs about God, prophesying, praising, and speaking in tongues, and still not have the Church.
The Church is the Church when it is born as the expression of Jesus Christ on the earth. And the Church can only be the expression of Jesus Christ on the earth when the living stones have laid down their own ideas and preferences, creativity and imagination, and solutions to the problems of the world. When the living stones have laid down their lives at the foot of the cross and are willing and empty vessels eager to be filled with Christ. Eager to be filled with His ideas and preferences, His creativity and imagination, and His solutions to the problems of the world. Eager to be filled with His life and His alone.
No matter the cost.
So, you’ve left the system, but has the system left you?