Why We Need To Gather Simply As the Church
The tide is turning in our nation.
There was a time when politicians would often actually be practicing Christians. Now, it’s not unheard of for a politician to attend services in a Christian church building regularly knowing that some people will vote for him, assuming that his church attendance means that he is a devoted follower of Jesus. Meanwhile, his beliefs about various topics will reveal the fact that he practices, supports or even celebrates things that God HATES.
Real Christians love what God loves and hates what He hates.
It’s only a matter of time when people in power aren't going to even feel the need to pretend to be believers. In fact, it is now fashionable for political leaders to champion causes that God tells us are sin and to even publically call for the murder of policemen and political leaders they hate.
These are the people who make laws in our nations. Eventually "church", as it has declined to what we know as "church", will be outlawed. This means that tax-exempt status for Bible practicing church organizations and ministries will be revoked because of our refusal to compromise God’s Word.
Our beliefs and words will clash with society’s “celebrated sin of the month club”, as they should. The left will counter first by trying to dry up the flow of finances that any organization needs to pay for programs, salaries, rent or building payments and utilities.
True Christians will continue to give out of gratefulness for what Jesus has done for them.
Failure to kill the church by attacking its finances will spur on the enemies of Christ to finally outlaw the public gathering of Christians. We can see this in other parts of the world today.
The Chinese government has for years outlawed Christianity, except for the government sponsored “churches”. I believe that it is VERY possible that in the future only false “churches” in the U.S. that practice occultic beliefs, celebrate perversity, combine various world religions with Christianity or mock Jesus will eventually become the only legal government sanctioned church organizations.
In virtually all Muslim nations all religions other than Islam are forbidden.
When Christians are discovered to be worshiping Jesus they are jailed or killed. Radical Muslims like those in ISIS practice it by destroying Church buildings and then murdering or enslaving Christians.
I believe that as the End steadily approaches these things will come to pass. We can see them happening now.
Over fifteen years ago there was a season in which virtually every preacher seemed to be preaching about the unity of the Body of Christ. They all quoted this passage:
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.” (Psalm 133:1-3)
These words from the Lord issuing forth from the mouths of men touched our hearts.
We could see a common theme that goes all through the Word of God, one of unity in Christ.
Although the context of this next passage has to do with the union of Jew and Gentile in Jesus and, through Jesus, the union of man and God, the CORE idea has to do with unity (or “oneness”) in general.
“For He Himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace…” (Ephesians 2:14-15)
The word “peace” does not merely mean “the absence of conflict”; rather, it has to do with the reunifying of that which was at one time together, then split apart. The result is what we know as “unity.”
In Ephesians 4:11-16 Paul reveals that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were given by God to equip Christians to individually do ministry and to grow the Body of Christ spiritually with God’s ultimate GOAL in mind. That goal is that we would “all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13)
The REASON God desires us to be in FUNCTIONAL union with Him and one another is “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Ephesians 4:14)
Satan is crafty but he is NOT creative. He has tried since A.D. 33 to kill the Church, to impede the people of Christ from being focused on Him and to flourish in general.
He is AFRAID of us. He is especially afraid of us functioning as a unified body. That’s why he has the Church divided as it is into millions of fragments.
We are DIVIDED into denominations, congregations, styles, philosophies, desires….you name it - and being functionally divided, it will be relatively easy for satan to destroy the current STRUCTURE of Christendom.
Having lured most Christians into identifying with the STRUCTURE of how we meet often more than they identify with their Lord, Jesus…..satan’s hope is that when the structure of the current form of Christian worship crumbles…so will the faith of most Christians.
It is my prayer that this never happens but IF that ever happens…people will stop wearing t-shirts that advertise and market “their church” because “their church” will cease to exist.
This is equally true for people like my wife and I, who most often worship in small groups in homes. We CANNOT identify with “our church” as an entity separate from the entire Body of Christ without offending our LORD.
“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.” (John 17:11)
“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” (John 17:18-23)
If there should come a time in which all the “my” churches are outlawed, bankrupted or destroyed, Jesus Christ’s Church will ALWAYS exist so long as there is one Christian breathing.
Fifteen years ago Laurie and I received the message of unity in Christ and we sought the Lord. We believed…and still do believe…that He was directing us to step outside the congregation that we attended at the time. We believe God wanted us to function outside that system and to learn to worship simply in homes and to teach others how to do that.
We believe that one reason He led us to do this was to practice unity in the Body of Christ. We do not identify ourselves or anyone else in terms of earthly religious organizations (“….from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.” 2 Corinthians 5:16a). We know these exist and we know our Christian brothers and sisters often identify themselves by the subsets of the Body of Christ to which they have given themselves.
We simply try to think in terms of the WHOLE Body of Christ in any given geographical area and try to serve the Body as a whole. Many people have benefited from this and many local Christians support our efforts to do this, for which we are very thankful.
The other reason God wanted us to function like we currently do is to prepare His Body for what He knows is coming in the world. We’re not the only people practicing Christianity in this way. As we moved into it we became aware that all over the world other Christians were being led by the Lord to worship in a more simple…or, as some describe it, more “organic” manner.
It has become very apparent to us that it is VERY important that we know how to gather simply for when we have to go underground again....before the end of days.
I’d LOVE to be wrong about this but I think that, eventually, we will see the end of church as we have come to know it. I believe that our enemies on the earth, driven and controlled by THE enemy, will seek to destroy Christianity by destroying the current structure of the institution.
They do not understand what Jesus knows to be true: that the Church is US…the people of Jesus….and always has been.
Killing Christians will not destroy the Church.
Destroying church buildings and relics will not destroy the Church.
Outlawing us will not destroy the Church.
Impeding our worship in any way will not destroy the Church.
No one can ever destroy the Church because it co-exists in heaven and on the earth.
The bottom line is that whatever our or other national governments ever do to try to control Christians, we will ALWAYS gather together. The underground Church in China is a long standing testimony to this.
We understand the value of gathering:
“…let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Why do we need to gather simply as the Church?
We need to do this so that if or when the structure of “church” as we know it is ripped away…we can still meet simply in homes, restaurants, vehicles, the workplace and the marketplace and harvest all the benefits God has for us in gathering as brothers and sisters in Christ.
My wife and I have hosted meetings in our home for many, many years and many people consider these Gatherings to be their “church services”. While we get that mentality, we have come to recognize that we experience many of the same benefits from simply having a meal or sharing a cup of coffee or tea with a fellow Christian or two. Jesus speaking:
"For where TWO OR THREE are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
The truth is that if the structure of the current form of Christian worship is taken away and if identified spiritual leaders are not present….God still wants us to gather in His name…in HIS authority.
THIS is why we need to gather simply as the Church!
And THIS is why Laurie and I live as we do.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© August 7, 2017
(for use with permission)