My name is Keith Giles. I love to write so that people can know Jesus and experience His life in their own.
So, I started this blog to help people understand who Jesus is, and how He reveals what the Father is really like.
This is a safe place to talk about all those questions you've had about the Bible, and Christianity. It's also a place to learn how to put the words of Jesus into practice.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The Painfully Normal Church
According to the New Testament, the Christian faith was
inaugurated at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32,
was poured out on all flesh. From that day forward, the followers of Jesus
became empowered to preach the Gospel, baptize new believers, plant churches,
and share communion with other believers. Everyone was in the ministry of Jesus
Christ. There was no distinction between clergy and laity because in their
minds, every follower of Jesus was “…being built into a spiritual house to be a
holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus
Christ." – (1 Peter 2:5)
When the Spirit of Almighty God was poured out on all
flesh at Pentecost, those first Christians got it. They understood that the
same Holy Spirit of God that once rested over the ark of the covenant behind a
300 pound veil in the Temple of Jerusalem was now living within their own
hearts. They were excited beyond belief and consumed with a fire and a passion
to share this living presence of God with everyone they knew.
The original Christian church was one “not made with
human hands”. Rather than following “the pattern of this world” the Biblical
Christian church was birthed by the Spirit of God, empowered by words of
Christ, and under submission to the Father. Simply put, the Christian church we
read about in the New Testament was something that God was doing, not men. In
contrast to our Church today, the first Christians were ordained by the Holy
Spirit of God Himself and sent out to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News, that
the Kingdom of God had come to every man, woman and child.
The artificial, man-made hierarchy we see in the
Christian church today is not what the Church practiced under the Apostles in
the New Testament. Instead of a Body made up entirely of Spirit-filled
ministers of the Gospel, the Christian church eventually surrendered this
heavenly model for a more top-down approach.
As one New Testament scholar, Howard Snyder, put it:
"The clergy-laity dichotomy is…a throwback to the
Old Testament priesthood. It is one of the principal obstacles to the church
effectively being God’s agent of the kingdom today because it creates a false
idea that only ‘holy men,’ namely, ordained ministers, are really qualified and
responsible for leadership and significant ministry. In the New Testament there
are functional distinctions between various kinds of ministries but no
hierarchical division between clergy and laity. The New Testament teaches us
that the church is a community in which all are gifted and all have ministry.”
I believe this is partly why Jesus strategically chose
his disciples from among the most common and ordinary strata of society. He
wanted to make sure that when a run-of-the-mill fisherman stood up and
proclaimed the Gospel no one would bow down and worship him. Instead, the
people saw ordinary men and women just like themselves, uneducated, dirty, and
painfully normal, who had been caught up into the eternal purpose of God.
When Peter spoke under the power of the Holy Spirit, or
when Paul prayed for people to be healed, or when any of those unnamed
disciples ministered to one another in the Body, everyone knew it was God doing
the work, not the people themselves.
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized
that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took
note that these men had been with Jesus.” – (Acts 4:13)
When they gathered together it wasn’t to hear words of
“eloquence or superior wisdom” but to experience Jesus in their midst as the
Head of the Body and to share Him through a communion that went beyond bread
and wine. The original, New Testament Christians were empowered, “not with wise
and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power” (1 Cor
The Church is what God is doing, not what we are doing.
We are living stones, but only because we are filled with the Life of Christ by
the power of the Holy Spirit. Gathering apart from that is just a gathering.
When we come together, to the Living Stone, we also like living stones are
built up into a holy priesthood, offering sacrifices of praise to celebrate our
Risen Lord who is present with us in the meeting.
Can you imagine being in a room with Jesus and allowing
someone other than Him to speak for over an hour? Can you imagine experiencing
the awesome presence of the Spirit of the Living God and reading announcements?
The Body of Christ is an expression of the tangible,
resurrected Christ. Have we settled for less? Have we become comfortable
listening to the wisdom of Men rather than waiting quietly for the whisper of
our Eternal Creator?
The more I read the New Testament the more I see a people
who were caught up in something beyond themselves. They were the most common,
uneducated, normal people you can imagine. Even their leaders were humble,
ordinary, everyday men and women who saw themselves as fortunate participants
in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and the heart’s desire of Almighty God
to reveal Himself to the World.
*NOTE: This article originally appeared in the online magazine www.theyoke.org.