This part is the most difficult because it is not meant to be an attack on any person or group of people as if I have all the answers and they don't. But it can sound like it if this is read expecting it to be an attack.

I believe the church is the body of him who fills every thing in every way. I also believe that the church as a whole thing is as invisible as he is since it is too large to be viewed from any vantage point besides God's. So, the church is essentially invisible as a whole entity.

But, there are several places where people gather together at least once a week (either as a services to God or to view a service to God) in the name of Christ. Those gatherings are visible. The individual persons who make up the body of Christ is each visible to those who are close enough to see them. But, to observe a service or to observe those who go to the services is not necessarily seeing the church. The church is mingled in with those who gather together, but not all who gather are the church. The church is those who have been united to Christ through his death and resurrection.

My observation is that the church is not that gathering for service. But, the church does gather for service. This is true because to observe the ritual actions of these gatherings does not reveal the church. Those actions do not represent the church. The church is alive as Christ is alive. If we are united with him in his death, we are also made alive with him.

This takes the ritual out of the church. Our present day idea of the church includes the ritual. But the ritual is only a replacement for the active life of those who are united with Christ. This ritual has replaced the King in the minds of those who see the church as:

  • A place where people gather to worship Jesus.
  • An organization that provides leadership and guidance to its members.
  • The leaders of the organization who make decisions that affect the members.
  • The pastor or priest who is the go-between in relation to the members and God.
The new testament is the part of the Bible that tells us about Jesus and the fledgling church as it emerged into the world. It also has letters from various individuals to various people at various times and in various locations and situations. These letters primarily give us instruction about what the church looks like and how the church lives. None of these documents that are primarily concerned with the church and Jesus give us any indication that God wanted the church to become an organization or for pastors to replace the direct relationship between God and the church (who is in Christ).

It wasn't until after the twelve and their disciples died that the facade the church has become started to be put into place. The existing "church", with its rules of membership, pastors, priests, hierarchical model of leadership, rituals, superstitions and special rules for holiness (to list a few things) was not in the mind of Jesus when he said that the true worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth instead of a certain place. Now days, worship means that some people tell other people what to say, do and think. This doesn't seem to me like worshiping in spirit and in truth.

I know the Bible gives us direction on how we behave as we live together in this body. I know that it tells us the truth on how to behave with each other in love as we gather together. So, we are to gather. But it doesn't tell us anything about how the pastor or priest is to lead us to God. It doesn't tell us that the church has final authority on earth when it comes to heavenly things. But, this is the general way the organizations are represented as the church. It is thought of by those in charge of the organizations and by those who are members of those organizations as if God wants some religion.

These are just a few ways that the rule of Christ has been superseded by the organizational church. I am not saying that those who are a part of that are not in Christ. I am saying that the real people are a part of the church; the organization, the building and the governmental structure are not. Those things actually place those who would be obeying the King into the position that what they are really doing is obeying the church. For example, even if a person wants to do something for Jesus, it must pass the scrutiny of the expert, paid and trained clergy before it is legitimate. If someone begins to do some thing that they think God wants them to do and they are not working within the constraints of the clergy, then they are labeled parachurch. This gives us the sense that at best, the church puts up with it, but it cannot completely be condoned by the church because of its lack of commitment to the beliefs, or practices of the clerical church.

As I said earlier, the current conditions that are forced upon the real church by the self-proclaimed representative of God on earth, have been gradually put into place a little at a time here and there throughout the last 1900 years or so. So, what we currently think of as the church is so ingrained in us that we only think of it in the form that has replaced the reality.

I have not said that there should not be leadership in the church. I have not said that the church should not meet. I am referring to the state of mind that tells us that there is a certain class of person who is holier than the rest of the body of Christ. The idea is that the church follows the leader. These leaders have placed themselves between the people and the King. This was not a requirement of the King. It was a man's invention. It cannot be found in the Bible and it wasn't practiced by the early disciples of Jesus or by their disciples.

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Once there was a man with two sons. This was a long time ago, so there won't be very many familiar things in it like cars and cell phones. In any case, the youngest son decided he wasn't getting the things out of life that he wanted, so he asked his father for his inheritance (see how long ago it was?).

His father gave him his inheritance and little Johnnie thanked him gleefully and headed out into the world to see what he could see. After some time, he found that gambling and partying was very expensive and that it had severely damaged his inheritance. In fact, he had run so low on money; he couldn't even afford to buy a McDonald's cheese burger (if there had been any around that is).

Since he was getting hungry and really didn't have a place to sleep either, he hired himself on to take care of farmer Don's pigs. But, as you can imagine, pig feeding doesn't pay much and he still found that he wasn't able to purchase enough food to keep his stomach from aching because it was so empty.

One day, he threw the slop out to the pigs and noticed something that most people don't notice when they are feeding pigs. He noticed that the slop he was giving the pigs looked like a pretty good meal. Of course, pig slop can be made up of food that would have otherwise been thrown out into the garden or the burn pile. But, it still looked good to him.

When that happened, he remembered how well his father's servants ate when he was at home. Wow! What a revelation. The servants eat better than the pigs and the pigs eat better than he does. So, little Johnnie set off for home to negotiate a deal with Dad. He decided he could be a servant in his father's house. He had completely forgotten how much he disliked living there when he was a son. But, the servant idea was better than eating pig slop. As he reasoned these things, he approached his home.

What do you suppose happened then? While he was a long ways away (not driving or in a bus), his father looked out and saw the form of his son who had left so long ago. He dropped all that he was doing and ran out to meet his son and welcome him back home. Johnnie said, "Dad, I can be a servant in your house. I know how well they eat." But, his father would not hear of it. Instead, he insisted that a robe be thrown over him and the family ring put on his finger and a great big party be thrown for his son. He said, "My son who was dead has come back to life again."

Well, there's more of the story to tell. His brother, Jake was none too pleased with this situation. He had not wasted his father's money. He had stayed at home and done all the things he thought would set him in place in his father's mind and house. But, now, that troublemaker is back and he gets a party. But, that's another story.

It is amazing that God just looks for the slightest excuse to accept us and take us back to him. The father didn't put Johnnie on trial to determine if all the requirements for returning home had been met. He didn't ask him what happened to the money. He didn't ask him if he was sorry. He just saw Johnnie heading in the direction of home and ran to bring him the rest of the way.

Wow! What does it take to get acceptance from God? Just take a turn. He's watching to see which way you are heading so he can run and help you come back.

This variation of an old familiar story was stolen from "The Musings of Matthew Smith".

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The Good News

  1. Jesus’ message of good news was that the kingdom of God was near them.
    1. He even declared it to be in those who followed him.
  2. Jesus’ good news was not freedom from the kingdoms of the world.
    1. His good news was that the king that we rejected all those times is coming to establish his kingdom among us once more.
    2. He hasn’t given up on us.
    3. He hasn’t decided to just destroy us as his enemies.
    4. He provided a means for us to submit ourselves to him as we should have always done.

    Peter’s conclusion of his speech on the day of Pentecost was:
      “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
    There is then a short summary of some of what was happening while these people gave themselves up to the king of kings.
      Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
    From that day, the church began to grow to be more than those 120 people who were in the upper room to thousands. These thousands of people who were added to their numbers were subjecting themselves to the king and messiah. This was Jesus that they submitted to.

    From that point, the followers of Jesus as king grew in Jerusalem until persecution and famine drove them from that place to others places. Wherever they went, they spread the news of the king of creation and all men who had died and rose from the grave as predicted by the prophet and king, David.

    Now, as we read the few letters and documents that have been passed down to us from those men who knew and spoke to Jesus, we see no evidence that there was any intention in any of their minds that the church replace their king in heaven with one from the earth. But those who claim the name of Christ have done so.

    Reaction to “heresy” – the making of a “king” like Israel did.
    It started with some group of men in 300 AD who were the supposed leaders of the church. These men decided which of the writings of the apostles they would keep and which they would destroy. Based upon that decision, they made it clear that those who subscribed to the non-canonized scriptures would be considered to not be followers of Christ. In fact, at some point the “church” found itself with the authority and the insolence to judge these people worthy of death at the hands of the “church” for disagreeing over which written articles were actually authentic and should be deemed to be God's word.

    The next section is going to go over what the church has done in the past 2000 years in relationship to the King of kings. It will be general and I am not going to spend a lot of time digging up dates and particulars and names to back up what I am going to say. It is, after all, history and anyone can find documents to read it. I am not as interested in the particulars because I am only aiming at the general relationship of the church towards her king. It has been 2000 years after all.

    I am not against any particular people group, or religious sect. My only concern is, "How has the church related to her king and how shall she relate in the future?"

    I think that examples like that of the canonization of certain scripture and the resulting slaughter of people as a result of it is only important in that it gives us a comparison between following the King who said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another," and following those who justified killing one another over the words on a piece of paper. The rub is that those documents all had the same thing written in them. It was written that the King of heaven and earth had commanded us:
      "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another."

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    I know that was the caterpillar's question, but it is a good one none the less.

    Once there was a farmer. Let's call him, Gideon. He enjoyed farming and producing food products for his family and community until a small glitch in his life-style was forced upon him. There was an enemy in the land. This enemy proceeded to kill live stock and steal produce from Gideon and his friends. But, what could he do? He was a farmer after all.

    Once day, while threshing his wheat in a wine press, he was visited by an angel. This angel addressed him as if he were some kind of war hero and gave him some instructions for his next place in life. All of a sudden, Gideon was a soldier and a commander. He wasn't a farmer any longer.

    From here, he proceeded to build his army to fight the enemy. There are too many details in the story for my tastes and much more than needed for the point of this blog. But, let's suffice it to say that he got his army, got his instructions from the king (God) and fought the enemy. They won the war.

    After the war, the people wanted to make him the ruler of the land. But he refused. You see, he was now a farmer. His assignment from the king was ended when the war ended.

    The lesson we see in this is that we can be satisfied and fulfilled in being who God has made or called us to be. It doesn't matter if it is extraordinary or mundane.

    As a wise friend of our said, our peace lies not trying to be who we are not. While Gideon was fighting the war, he wasn't responsible for the crops. While he was tending the crops, he wasn't responsible for the war.

    Sometimes, our lives are mundane. Sometimes they are extraordinary. When we are not satisfied with whatever place are we are in, we have conflict within ourselves. Our job is to do the thing that God has placed in front of us to do now. In that lies our peace with our selves and with God.

    This is my lesson of course. It is the lesson that God is trying to teach me. He just told this to me. Now I have to find a way to make it a part of my life. Sometimes I am there and sometimes I am not.

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