Friday, February 04, 2011

Organization or Organism

More and more disillusionment and disheartenment seems to be expressed than I can ever recall. This is in every aspect of people’s lives, but my greatest concern in this regard is concerning how people see the Church. This is especially true for those who thought that they were part of a faithful church body and then discover heresy and fraud and hypocrisy throughout their church body in which they trusted.

One of the frequent comments that people who have surrendered in their search for the true Church of God on earth is that they do not believe in organized religion. This comes from a deep misunderstanding of what true religion is. For the Church and the religion that God supplies from above is most certainly organized. From Moses to the apostles, the Scriptures declare the order that God has ordained for His Church.

However, even though the Church is ordered and organized, it is not an organization. It is an organism. It is a living body, the body of Christ. It is His bride, His beloved. It is not merely a group of individuals brought together into an organization any more than the members of our own bodies are merely gathered into an organization. This illustration can be carried to the cellular level. The body has MANY cells. These cells are differentiated from one another from early in the gestational process. They begin exactly the same until God causes them to become differentiated. Yet they never become separate from one another. And while the various cells differ from one another, serving different functions within the body, forming different organs of the body and different bodily members, they are united inseparably as one body. The Scriptures teach the same regarding the Church as the body of Christ.

The reason that people become disillusioned and disheartened and confused is on account of ignorance of this fact. They perceive, perhaps because of their own assumptions or because they have been falsely taught, that the Church is an organization. When a church body or congregation acts as though it were an organization, it is not the Church. It has no life to give because it is not the body of Christ. It is merely a group of people who have chosen to organize themselves in an imitation of the Church. The unity of such an organization is entirely dependent upon the actions of the members. While they may profess to be depending upon God for their unity, they really are depending upon themselves and their collective agreed upon capacity for organization and cooperation.

This is not the Church nor the way of the Church. The Church is a true incorporation or ingrafting of members into one body. They are interconnected not by a collective decision or commitment to one another, but by the organic union into the body. They cannot exist apart from the body, whereas the members of an organization can exist apart from the organization.

This is why people encounter so much disunity in their churches and church bodies. This is why they eventually become disillusioned and disheartened and surrender the hope of ever partaking of true communion with God and with one another.

The fact is that there is only one true Church of God on earth. It is united in the doctrine of the apostles. It lives and functions as this doctrine declares. Where this is not the case, something other than the Church of God exists. The Church is not of our making. It is the holy communion of the saints, called and gathered and united by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. Through Baptism the members are generated into the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, the Church. Having been generated or born into this body, they continually partake of the body and blood for their preservation unto the life of the body. This is why the divine liturgy begins with our baptismal regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit into the saving name of Jesus and carries us to the Lord’s Supper of His Holy Communion. This is the life of the Church, the body of Christ.

If people truly understood and believed this, they would not gather with those who are not the Church and they would not become disillusioned and disheartened. They would not look for authorization and validation from a church body that men have organized. They would gather instead to the pure administration of the means of grace and would be truly united through the koinonia or communion of the body and blood of Christ.

Then they would not be confused regarding who the true preachers are. The true preachers are known by their fruits, even as the Lord Jesus declares. (Matthew 7:7-20 )

The true Church is not hard to identify. The Lord Jesus assures us:

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

He actually says this more powerfully and specifically than our translations. He actually says:

For where are two or three having been together brought into my name, there I am in midst of them.

If people truly understood this and believed it as He says it, they would realize that this synegmenoi, this being brought together, this being congregated, is entirely passive on their part. It is purely the work of God, effected through the preaching of the Gospel in connection with Baptism and preserved through the Holy Supper wherein Jesus promises that He is in their midst. He distinguishes this with the words eis, which is into, and en, which is in. The Church is the congregation of those who have been brought together into the power and unity of His name where He is there in their midst. This is not a choice to gather in His name, as the many churches imagine. This is true ingrafting into His body through being baptized into His name and thereby being regenerated through water and Spirit into the body in which Jesus, Immanuel, truly is. When people understand and believe this, they know where Jesus is by the obvious signs that He has ordained, the pure administration of the Sacraments in accord with the preaching of the pure doctrine of the Word. Then those having been gathered are truly the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints. Then the congregation is truly the same, whether there be two or two thousand and whether they are in New York City or in Rome or in Jerusalem or in Timbuktu or even in a foxhole in Afghanistan. They will be united through the divine liturgy, even if the hymnals are burned and all they can remember is the Creed and the Our Father and the words of consecration for the Supper.


4 comments:

covnitkepr1 said...

One thing of which we can be certain...the gates of hell itself will not prevail against it.

Thanks for the visit to my blog and the most gracious comment.


I’ve been following and enjoying your blog for a while now and would like to invite you to visit and perhaps follow me back. Sorry I took so long for the invitation.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Hi Stan!

I do visit your blog fairly regularly and I have appreciated your invitations and the invitations of others to follow their blogs. I do follow, but not through the RSS. I find that my stewardship of the gift of time is very poor and if I were to follow blogs through the RSS I would really be in trouble.

So, until I am a better steward, I'll simply check from time to time.

Thanks.

Paul

Terri said...

The people in my life that rebel against organized religion are also rebelling against God. It not only comes from a lack of knowledge, but a lack of desire to know the truth that is there to set us all free. They don't have ears to hear (yet, I pray).

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Terri,

Yes, this indeed the way. People observe the faithless ways of those who place themselves above God and thus presume to be the organizers of religion and of the Church, and this hypocrisy both discourages those who observe it, but also is used as an excuse for rebellion against God. Of course, we all are born into this world as rebellious anarchists. The Holy Spirit has to convert us all and to call us back continually to the change of heart and mind that He works through the means of grace.

Your words move me to think that you hurt over these people who are in your life and rebel against the Lord and His religion. This is the hurt that God’s love moves us to feel. In the Our Father the Lord Jesus teaches so to pray for both ourselves and for all of the other rebels we know with, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Please do remember that this prayer is for ourselves as well as others. When we thus pray, then we also understand why the Lord Jesus says: “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and then also commands us to bind people to their sins.

God’s peace be yours in Christ Jesus.