far as my understanding can carry me,
the entire concept of “Church,” should
resemble “Family” more than it resembles any other institution, society or
The Church has been described in numerous ways, with each
description carrying its own sense of understanding. Some have used
the Greek “ekklesia” (the called out and assembled
ones) to describe the concept of “church.” Many think of the church as a building
at some certain location. Still others think of a denomination or a
congregation or mystically as “the Body of Christ,” or as a one of
the Baskin and Robbins 64 flavors of church expression – Protestant
or Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox or Armenian or Byzantine or
Russian Orthodox or any number of other variations on the theme.
Sadly, because of the failure of men to rightly understand the
church, many followers of Jesus conjure feelings and memories of
deep hurt, extreme sorrow and spiritual enslavement when they think
When I was a seminary student we were introduced to a
discipline of theology known as Ecclesiology, a study of the
doctrines of the Church as a community or organic entity, and with
the understanding of what the "church" is — its role in
salvation, its origin, its relationship to the historical Christ,
its discipline, its destiny and its leadership. Ecclesiology is the
study of the Church as a thing in itself, and of the Church's
self-understanding of its mission and role.
One would assume that after a thorough introduction and study of
Ecclesiology we students would have gained a deep and intimate
understanding of what “the church” is or at least ought to be.
Bound by the limitations
of our understandings.
Unfortunately, there is a powerful principle at play affecting any
study we might undertake: We are prone to remain bound by the
conventional, historical understandings that have existed within
whatever realm of study we undertake. So, if we were reared in a
Roman Catholic home, with parents who were committed and active
Catholics, and if we were educated within the systems of the
Catholic church, our foundational understanding of “church” will be
based on the Roman Catholic view of “church” and will be very
different from our neighbor-protestants and their understanding of
Before we find ourselves
caught up in trying this model or that model, chasing after whatever
form seems to be successful here and there, may I suggest that our
concern be found with recognition of, alignment with, and
faithfulness to the structure He builds, without presupposition of
what the building will look like? Are we willing to fill whatever
vessel God constructs? Must we have it our way? Must we register our
likes and our dislikes, our preferences of what church should be and
how it should function and look, based largely on our own frail and
untrustworthy "feelings?" Can we trust God to build a house fit for
all of His family? And perhaps now we're getting somewhere on the
continuum of our quest.
I believe that "Family" is what the Church is all about
– All our wonderful songs (I'm so Glad I'm a Part of the
Family of God; We will Break Dividing Walls et al) and all our slogans
mean nothing to God - or to people - unless we truly recognize and allow
to exist the “family”
aspect of church, beginning with a right understanding of and
relationship with our heavenly Father.
Unless we actually become sons and daughters - in the truest sense
and in the complete definition of what it means to be true sons and
being nurtured in the womb of “family”
and reveling in the warmth of
Father’s presence, we will never truly understand or experience
“church” in the full sense heaven intends.
I wrote to friends in England this morning. I reminded these
precious family members of a night when we met in one
of the family homes. Our discussion centered on the theme of
defining "the church." The focus finally shifted to the word,
"Family." The church must and will naturally (supernaturally) become
"Family" as we submit, as we "Let Him." It's a natural process that
has become artificial in the greater scope of the church experience.
The "church" has become an institution, an
organization, a program,
a corporation more than a corporate body; more business than Body;
more conglomerate than "koinonia." The "they had all things
in common" has given way to the establishment of the "have" churches
versus the "have not" churches.
House of God.
We need to
of His Presence.
We need to
of His Grace - "You prepare a table
before me in the presence of my enemies" echoes from the halls of
heaven to hearts willing to hear.
We need to REST
of His companionship.
We need to see our heavenly Father abiding in His Great "Easy Chair"
and climb up into His enfolding arms, rest on His Strong Shoulders,
hear and feel and sense the intake and the outflow of the Ruach
- the very Breath of God. Oh, I hear Him calling us UP, UP, UP, UP
into his bosom and into His strong arm of Salvation.
And it's Truly, Family. Father, Son, Daughter, Father, Groom, Bride,
knit together, introduced and fueled by the HOLY, Holy Spirit.
Peace and Love in His Grace,