Following is a guest post written by Patrick Maina who works closely with us in communications for Appleseed Ministry. Patrick is native-born to Kenya and has a long history in both organic/house church and missions. The original article was posted here.
“You sound like you are saying that it is wrong to go to the IC (Institutional Church).”
This was a statement by a visitor to a house church gathering I was a part of this last week. It happened that we had quite a number of first time visitors and somehow we got to explaining why a number of us stopped going to church, but instead meet at home.
As different people explained their journey and how they found their way into the house church, it must have sounded to the visitor like we were bashing the IC. Through the discussions and explanations, some insights came out that I’d like to highlight:
1. Church is not a form, but a living organism made up of many parts that live by the life of Christ within. That means that church exists both inside and outside of the IC.
2. IC is like a life support system and those that have difficulties breathing probably need it. It’d be foolish to say that you do not need a life support machine when you are not able to breath without it. On the other hand, overstaying ones need for the life support system would be detrimental to anyone’s ability to function independently.
Since that meeting, I have continued to ponder my real reasons for leaving the IC. By rephrasing Watchman Nee’s words, I have some key reasons that resonate with me:
“There are at least four things that institutionalize Christianity: an intermediate priesthood, a written code, a physical temple, and earthly promises. Those who truly know God have had the influence of institutional-ism completely nullified to the point that not one of these elements exists in their spiritual life.”
The concept of covering as taught in most institutional Christianity has largely contributed to the believers’ limitation in walking in their true standing as sons of God. We have boldness by Christ Jesus to call God, our Father:
And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
A written code:
Code of conduct does not produce the righteousness of God for,
3 … what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.. (Rom 8)
A physical temple:
Going to church entrenches in the mind of the believer the old covenant concept of a physical location or building being where God is found. On the other hand it diminishes the consciousness of the God who now dwells (all the time) inside of the believer, when he/she has to be at their best on Sunday morning.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Jesus seemed during His earthly ministry to encourage people to give priority to the heavenly concerns and their earthly needs will be supplied in the process:
“31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
This is in great contrast to what we often hear of the gospel presented today. The world offerings are presented as part of the promise of God to the followers of Christ. We ought to face the reality that for the simple reason that we are followers of Christ, we are on collision course with the world system. Jesus’ own words testifies to that fact:
“33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
There is a sure promise that ought to give us comfort:
“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
“35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Dear ones, it is to freedom that Christ called us, therefore, let no man’s attempt to contain the movement of God get you into bondage:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Enjoy the glorious liberty of the sons of God.