Danger, Danger, Danger: Are you someone who is adamant about Jesus and fellowship needing to reflect your own theories and sensibilities, yet are not yourself in functional ekklesia (the Greek word used in the New Testament for “church”)?
By ekklesia, I’m not talking about your traditional Sunday-go-to-meeting “church” with it’s hour of worship-band sing along, directed prayer and monologue sermon. Nor am I talking about posting on Facebook.
Rather, I mean authentic, flesh-and-blood community which finds expression as the multifaceted, multi-gifted Body of Christ – including dynamic, diverse and participatory fellowship gatherings.
Because I am very, very careful not to spout off pet theories divorced from reality, I try to keep my blog rooted in such fellowship. There’s enough naive, aspirational gibberish in the blogsphere these days, and practical reality seems to be sorely lacking.
Writing from the perspective of actual fellowship doesn’t necessarily make me right, however. But I nonetheless have learned to filter my views – and the writings and opinions of others – through the lens of actual fellowship, and that has served me well.
Outside my local fellowship, I also get to interact through my blog and other social media with lots of people – both publicly and privately – who don’t have that perspective. They profess Christ, but are not part of any real fellowship.
Sometimes they are isolated because there simply are no functional fellowships in their area – and there is no shame in that.
Often, however, such folks live as detached Christians – other than maybe causal social interactions – because they are unwilling to lay down their lives, their hurts, their theories, and their sensibilities to find real fellowship.
If that’s you, there is hope, but it means making some sacrifices. Time and again I have seen the Lord bring forth community and fellowship – meaning real ekklesia – once folks are ready to truly lay down and submit (now there’s a dirty word in the post-modern vocabulary!) their agendas, their theories, their hurts, and their sensibilities to one another. That certainly was true in my own life, and it was a painful transition.
Until that happens, however, realize there often is an unhealthy inverse correlation (sorry to put it so analytically) between how adamant you are on what the life of Christ and fellowship should or shouldn’t be, and the degree to which you are involved in actual, on-the-ground, nitty-gritty, functional ekklesia.
In other words, be on guard: The more removed you remain from healthy, multifaceted and multi-gifted ekklesia, the more adamant you can become on what ekklesia and the life of Christ in others should look like. And that’s a very dangerous place to be.
It is scary to watch folks become trapped in the glaring disconnect between their own subjective sensibilities and the balanced maturity that only comes from healthy ekklesia.
Again, healthy ekklesia is not the ultimate measure of truth, but it is an important, legitimate filter nonetheless.
If you insist on holding firm to your theories and sensibilities outside the context of healthy ekklesia (and social media like Facebook ain’t ekklesia – sorry!), be careful. Jesus is never about autonomous individualism, purely subjective revelation, or affirming your own attitudes.
Rather, He finds fullest expression in His functioning Body, where our theories and sensibilities are tempered by the maturing dynamic of wonderful but sometimes messy reality.
Find ekkelsia and figure out how to make it work in your life and with others – tempered by the experience of Christ truly living in you, among you, and through you in authentic community. Yes, it may be messy. Yes, you may need to change. Yes, your pet theories and sensibilities may not survive.
But there, and only there, will your life in Christ find the balance and maturity that comes from reality, and not just theory.