....and why don't we ask them and ensure we get some satisfactory answers!
In a previous SC Letter I quoted extensively from Mark Strom's illuminating book, "Reframing Paul." Strom not only points out the ill-health and non-biblical practices of today's church, but he gives Biblical answers. In this letter I'm including a small, but very important, New Testament teaching and application.
Friends, even a cursory reading of 1 Cor. 12, 13 & 14 gives us a clear description of a healthy and functioning body. All the members have something to contribute and from this multi-gifted body even, "...the parts that seem weakest and least important are really the most necessary," 1 Cor. 12:22-26. We mustn't forget also the many, many verses that use the words, "one another." And that most of the commands related to these pungent words can only be done in relationship with others, and in small groups.
Question?: How much longer can we ignore and reject this clear teaching of Scripture? And is our careless ignoring of this "building-up" ministry one of the reasons the Church is so weak?
THE MEAL. Ray Barnett, in his Scripture-filled book, "The Gathering," points out that the Greek word for "supper" in 1 Cor. 11:20 means a meal or a banquet. He also states, "No-one can get drunk on a few millilitres of wine, nor satisfy their hunger with a pinch of bread," see vv. 21, 22. Communion was obviously a meal; the "love feast" referred to in Jude 12. Strom points out that in church today there is no meal and our conversations are gagged and spontaneity is avoided. Why???Again quoting Barnett. "If an unbeliever looked through the window at an...evangelical Lord's Supper...would words like "dinner" and "feast" make any sense to them?...would the word "fellowship" come to mind as they note that none of us talk to each other or even look each other in the eye? Would they observe a miracle of oneness? Or would they see 100 people in a tense, disconnected, private ceremony? Would they observe a tight-knit family, or would they observe a religious ceremony?"
At the beginning of 2011, a group of us decided that we would start with a meal as part of our mid-week fellowship. 10 or so people sit at an oval table; we pray, talk, laugh, testify, share and encourage one another. What noise! This is a vital part of our gathering and is enjoyed and open to everybody to contribute, even the not-yet Christians. Out of this Spirit-led and participatory gathering has come salvation and water baptisms.
Homework! Check out the Scripture references I have included, plus other references to the early church. e.g. Book of Acts. Do this prayerfully asking the Holy Spirit for answers. Also discuss the above topic with other seeking or dissatisfied believers. If you are serious about your 'walk' and unhappy with what is being done in the name of 'church'. do what you can to bring about change. And think of creative ways of reaching the not-yet Christians in your circle of influence. Start with meeting one or two folk for coffee with some sort of regularity. Chinese proverb: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step."
You're welcome to 'forward' this SC Letter.
Your feedback is also wanted and welcome.