We recently and sadly lost a fiend whom I had served with in a certain church. I had not met with him for a few years but could still remember the part of life’s journey we had shared. He was a gentleman who went through many ups and downs especially in business but still managed to maintain a joyful attitude and a hearty laugh. May he rest in peace.
In order to give him a good send off, the old friends from that era of our lives and his current friends started a WhatsApp group to raise funds and pass relevant information. The group did an amazing job at mobilizing funds. However, a certain discomfort and feeling of emptiness kept disturbing my heart even as there was excitement of being reunited again as ‘oldies’ and also as there was much pleasure in the timely and generous giving.
I took time to search my heart and find out why something was just not sitting right in my spirit. In that state, I wondered whether I am just complicated or something was actually amiss. Why could I not just be content with the way things are done?After all when you die while affiliated to an institutional church you are guaranteed a ‘decent burial’.
I understood my disillusionment when the Holy Spirit reminded me something. For a while now, our experience when we meet with Christians is that we usually have a very edifying conversation until they ask which church we go to. When we say we don’t go to church, they are in shock. We discuss our reasons a bit and sometimes in length. Most of the time the person ends up saying, “well, I see your point, Church is not exactly as it should but who baptizes your children? Who officiates your weddings, and finally who will bury you when you die?”
This was precisely the reason my heart was troubled. As Christians we have come to value the rites and rituals that are performed in the institutional church that it clouds the real purpose of the Body of Christ- The Church. The institution asserts its usefulness further when such occasions arise ignoring the very purpose for which it exist.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)
I would therefore not equate the goodness of any fellowship to the strength of its social responsiveness and excellence of rituals but to the degree we stir each other to Christ-likeness, living by His life and releasing that same life to one another. This brethren, let us do, while it is still day; for night comes and we can no longer work.
May you have a ‘Christfull’ year 2018.