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~ Churches are Not Buildings ~

        For military and psychological study, researchers have interviewed former prisoners of war.  Of particular interest are what enemy tactics were most effective in breaking the resolve of POWs.  They learned it was not physical torture but solitary confinement and the severing of any communication with soldiers of their units.  That people grew strength from others suffering the same experience was also evident in the Holocaust studies.  Consequently, today we have "support groups" for every imaginable situation.

        There was a time when the church life was central to the surrounding community.  Constantly in use for some purpose, churches were never locked.  In contrast to today's extreme departmentalization, the community's social, political, family, work, educational and spiritual lives were woven into the same fabric.  This began as soon as the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the first followers of Christ:  "All the Lord's followers often met together and they shared everything they had.  They would sell their property and possessions and give the money to whoever needed it. Day after day they met together in the temple.  They broke bread together in different homes and shared their food happily and freely, while praising God.  Everyone liked them and each day the Lord added to their group others who were being saved." (Acts 2:44-47)

        We are reminded, "Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that.  We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord's coming is getting closer." (Hebrews 10:25)  That day is closer now!  So we have the elements of corporate worship and encouragement listed in this verse.  People worship film stars, sports celebrities and political figures.  They will watch or read about them for hours.  They will stand in line for hours for their autographs.  Are there people waiting in lines for hours to get front seats at your worship services?  Why not?  There are churches where people will wait for hours to enter, where people risk their freedom, livelihoods and loves to enter... in countries where Christians are persecuted.  Hopefully, persecution and oppression won't be needed to get Americans and West Europeans excited about and hungry for corporate worship, but I fear it will come to that.

        The element of encouragement is also mandated by Scripture.  Do you leave your church gathering encouraged by others?  Do you encourage others?  Does your mutual encouragement extend into the week also, or is your church good for only one hour or so per week?

        Not many Christians realize the Scriptures order us to restrict even our legal conflicts with other Christians to the church community:  "When one of you has a complaint against another, do you take your complaint to a court of sinners?  Or do you take it to God's people?  Don't you know God's people will judge the world?  And if you are going to judge the world, can't you settle small problems?  Don't you know that we will judge angels?  And if that is so, we can surely judge everyday matters.  Why do you take everyday complaints to judges who are not respected by the church?  I say this to your shame.  Aren't any of you wise enough to act as a judge between one follower and another?  Why should one of you take another to be tried by unbelievers?  When one of you takes another to court, all of you lose.  It would be better to let yourselves be cheated and robbed." (1 Corinthians 6:1-7)

        Even in free republics such as the United States, Christians and Christ Himself are being persecuted in our courts, in our press, in our academic establishments and in our schools.  We are being called to embrace the new world order, all inclusiveness, the world government.  Anyone who thinks that a European common currency or an international language or a unified world government is a bad idea will be labeled as ignorant, politically incorrect, and, later on, a threat to world peace and security.  One common religion, economy, military, and world view under one world government with world peace may sound right, but its numerical code is 666 and its history is already written in the books of Revelation and Daniel.  Christ said we don't belong to this world. (John 17:16)  We are His, bought at a great price.  When are still-free Christians going to take Christ seriously and at His word and command?

        We humans attempted this new world order before.  Genesis 11:1 says, "The whole world was of one language and speech."  It was a world that feared being "scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" so the people said, "Let us build... a tower whose top will reach unto heaven and let us make a name for us."  This was the first attempt at building a world state that would even bear the pride and arrogance of storming and claiming heaven.  So God destroyed their unified language, and the attempted city and its tower was then named Babel.  Our technology will now bring that unification back to the world.  God will destroy it again, this time forever.

        "Upon her forehead was a name: 'Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.' I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus." (Revelations 17:5-6a) I would rather have Babylon drunk with my blood than I being drunk with her evil blood.  The only blood Christian lips should touch is that of the Christ's.  When Jesus appeared to His followers after His resurrection, He said, "Ghosts don't have flesh and bones as you see I have." (Luke 24:39b)  The usual phrase is "flesh and blood" (Matthew 16:17) since bones, muscles and organs are considered "flesh."  Jesus used the phrase "flesh and bones" to emphasize He emptied Himself of His blood for us.  Christ's uncovered wounds could no longer bleed.

        The ancient Romans practiced many abominable techniques of torture and death other than crucifixion.  One method involved tying a prisoner securely to a dead body and leaving them together in a dark, damp cell.  The toxic fluids and decaying flesh would, of course, gradually permeate the living body.  The person would slowly decay himself, but while still alive and conscious.

        Touching the blood of Babylon, helping to promote a new world order other than the kingdom of God, making deals with evil in the name of peace or inclusiveness, trying to serve two masters or more instead of obeying the first commandment of worshiping only God alone, living in a state of unforgiveness of those who hurt and violated you, are all akin to having a decaying body tied to you.  Cut it off using the spiritual weapons God provides and wash your hands clean of any stain of harlot Babylon and her vessel of the abominations of the earth.  Your Church is not a building.  Your Church is the "pearl of great price," the bride of Christ, the saints of the kingdom.  The true Church is not of this world and you will be able to know who are the members of the Church, the body of Christ... As Jesus said, you will know them by their love, a love that is also not of this world.  So whenever "two or more" are gathered in His Name, not in the name of inclusiveness, the new world order or your own lives, Christ is with you corporately and you are in Church.  Be there!

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services

Weekly Reflections © April 21, 2001

"God's Word" is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations Bible Society. Quotation are used by permission.

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