Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

Free The Church


The Neighborhood as the Church

suburbia

What is the Father’s business? If one attends a government church business, you might think serving that business is the Father’s business. For some, it might well be, for the Father has his church in many places. But for many, I suspect that it is not. My wife and I left the institutional gatherings for meeting in homes. But even there we found our freedom channeled into a works mindset. Meeting in house churches can be just as a religious activity as attending someone’s Sunday business. Is this freedom?

Finally I came to realize that freedom is to come and go where I feel the Spirit leads me. I have had enough of listening to others and not investing into others. I now meet with my neighbor, who has not been involved with any Christian fellowship at all. We read the Bible together and pray every Monday.

This meeting with my neighbor helped me to understand the Way of Christ and the early church. As Americans we have a great hunger for community and family. Every church business calls themselves “Your Church Home” and “Your Church Family”. But even secular marketers know this and make the same claim. The TV show, Cheers, grabbed that hunger with their theme song, “Where everybody knows your name.” Yet what do we do? We drive miles to find some speaker or music band that satisfies one part of us to be with a bunch of strangers who live miles from our home. Given enough years and involvement with the church business, you may establish real friends, but you have to drive miles to visit them according to their busy schedules. That is a church family? This is wrong.

In the early church, they met house to house. Jesus told his disciples to speak their peace upon a town, and when a house received their peace, they were to abide in that house. The church grew because that house was a person of peace. That person believed the gospel, and was influential. So that person would share the gospel with his or her friends, and a house church was planted. That was a real community. These were already friends. So they deepened their friendships as a family in Christ. They had a real community and had genuine love for one another. Not the superficial love of politeness and feigned friendships because you belong to the same church business.

On the street where I live, I am surrounded by black and white Christians. I have been going to my neighbors and talking to them about the church. They all drive miles to visit some congregation where they have other friends that live miles away. Yet we are all Christians on our block, and have little to do with one another, even though we see each other frequently. I told them, that the Bible does not recognize denominations or organizations – they all agreed – but geography. The church that was in the city of Rome, the church that was in the region of Galatia, and so on. God sees natural communities. He sees his body of Christ on our street.

So I have invited my neighbors to a front yard barbecue. The intention is to be a congregation of Christ, not coming together to hear some one preach, or even to sing songs. But to get to know one another and pray for one another’s needs. To break the ice and to be a community. Americans hunger for community and it is next door. Stop driving miles away. Be the church of Jesus Christ with your neighbors. Stop playing church. Be the church by loving your neighbors, black, white or whatever. This is seeking the Kingdom of God first, and the real freedom in Christ.

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