The following devotional written by a very well known church leader was forwarded to me this morning. I am not one to take on personal attacks. I believe God’s truth is powerful enough to vindicate me, but I also know God has put a fire in my heart to stand up and be counted for what is truth. I am also not one to witness outright lies about something as important as what defines the authenticity of a Christian, and remain silent or do absolutely nothing. There is a fine line between Christ’s teaching to turn the other cheek and the lukewarmness which allows deception to take root and strangle and snuff out the LIFE that the Spirit of the Living God brings, for if we do nothing in the face of darkness and bondage we only serve to condone and perpetuate it.
Please read the article below which is offensive and insulting to me and so many thousands of Christians out there who are not part of a church and/or church family (another conveniently made up term that serves to make the yoke of legalism even heavier).
The devotional reads as follows:
A Church Family Identifies You as a Believer
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35 NLT)
The Bible says a Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. Ephesians 2:19 says, “You belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (LB).
Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans – “bunny believers” who hop around from one church to another without any identity, accountability, or commitment. Many believe it is possible to be a “good Christian” without joining (or even attending) a local church, but God would strongly disagree.
The church is so significant that Jesus died on the cross for it: “Christ loved the church and gave his life for it” (Ephesians 5:25bGW).
Except for a few important exceptions referring to all believers throughout history, almost every time the word “church” is used in the Bible it refers to a local, visible congregation. The New Testament assumes membership in a local congregation.
A church family identifies you as a genuine believer. You can’t claim to follow Christ if you’re not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 NLT).
When we come together in love as a church family from different backgrounds, races and social statuses, it is also a witness to the world (Galatians 3:28).
Deception begins from the very title of this “Devotional”, for a Church Family is not what identifies us as believers, at least it is not what identifies me. What should identify us is our love for God above all things and our love for one another, our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, repentance of our sins and a desire to become more like Christ, to honour, praise and worship Him in everything we think, say and do.
I would be failing my calling to follow Christ, and I would be falling way too short of that calling, if people said of me that what identifies me as a believer is belonging to a Church Family. What a pathetic state of affairs that would be, personally and for the whole of Christendom. There is no biblical foundation to support such a statement made on the title of this devotional. Period!
Paragraph 1. Where in the bible does it say that a Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock or a child without a family and that it is an unnatural state? Do you see with what subtlety someone’s words and conclusions can put chains on people where Jesus meant to use us to bring freedom to them, freedom from the religious legalistic spirit that the Pharisees displayed in abundance just as so many Christian leaders display today? Then the author of this devotional goes on to quote Ephesians 2:19 as saying: “you belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (LB). My Bible actually says: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with CHRIST JESUS HIMSELF AS THE CORNERSTONE” (Emphasis is mine). From where in that Scripture can we conclude that a Christian without a church is incomplete, lost, without guidance or not cared for? Last time I checked, Jesus said to me: “My sheep know MY voice”. It is therefore the Shepherd’s voice and guidance which make me HIS, it is my obedience to Him that define me as His and not the being part of a flock, as nice and comforting as that may be.
It all comes down to the ongoing debate about what constitutes The Church: is it a physical building, a concrete gathering of believers or rather a SPIRITUAL body made of hearts and souls which are sold out for Christ?
To be continued in Part 2