Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.( ! Corinthians 3:16-18)
We are currently living in the very times that the Apostles and Prophets long warned of, the terrible “last days” which would be marked by such things as Betrayal, loss of Love, and defection from God due to Love of Self.
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another… And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:10, 12)
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-2,5)
Notice that Paul predicted that these dreadful characteristics would be shared by those professing godliness as well as by the secular.
Over the past three decades. there has been a general debasement of the definition of what it means to be truly born again. Much of this has to do with new methods of evangelization, the Church growth movement, (Which turned the filling of pews into a social science and even consulted unsaved marketing experts to take on the challenge of growing the church) , experience based Christianity, and a terribly low standard of Christian teaching.
One way this new, debased form of evangelicalism expresses itself is in the way people now view the church.
Church is often seen as a consumer choice; christians go shopping, asking themselves, ‘what does this church offer me?’, what programs or experiences as compared to other churches? Tiny churches are wiped out, unable to sustain in the face of the ‘benefits’ of Mega-Churches , in much the same way as Wal /Mart wiped out the old fashioned neighborhood ‘Mom and Pop’ stores.
Should a church ever disappoint in any slight way, perhaps the preaching is too long, or the lack of a Youth Group, or I have even heard that the ‘music’ was outdated, the people simply leave, cutting off support for the very body of believers that they raised their children with, were married in, and which prayed with them through previous trials of life.
The truth is…modern evangelicals routinely treat the church, it’s officers and authority with utter contempt, very nearly as much as the most ardent secularist.
I have seen longtime Christians who thought nothing of “going off” on an angry tirade, screaming in their Pastor’s face, disparaging, mocking and even sneering at attempts at reconciliation, and when called upon to consider repentance, they proceeded to lobby everyone in the church to take their “side”, in an attempt to cause a split in the church.
They put their hurt feelings above the church, and have set out to destroy it.
Even many Pastors despise the church. I have a ‘colleague’ in my town, a Calvary Chapel Pastor, who has lived here 9 years, and has never had a substantive conversation with me in all of those years, but who inserted himself into the above named split, confiding in a widely circulated e-mail that he has been praying for the dissolution of “that so called church” (Believers in Grace) “for many years now”!
What is the church to these people? Do they not realize that as small and weak as it seems to be to them, it is something Jesus himself ordained, and ‘purchased with his own blood”? With all of her flaws, the church is precious to Jesus. Wouldn’t it be better to just leave, then to conduct a “scorched earth” policy, contacting everyone associated with the church, and seeking to delegitimize it?
But this is the very “Love of Self” which Paul warned of.
Assume for a moment that these people were wronged somehow…no one is of perfect knowledge yet except Jesus.
Wouldn’t it be better to suffer wrong, than to destroy a valid, longstanding church? If you can no longer function in a given local church, why try to take everyone else out also? Is it ever right to destroy a church?
What is Church anyway? We all know that a church isn’t a building. Jesus ordained the Eccelesia, that is, “the called out ones”, telling his disciples, “Where two or more are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them”.
In the Old Testament, God was localized on earth. The city of Jerusalem was where the Holy House of God had been erected, and when He descended to earth in the days of Solomon, he inhabited that Holy House, and people streamed into Jerusalem from the ends of the earth, that the temple might be a house of prayer for all nations.
But in the New Testament, the place of worship is now decentralized and diffused throughout the earth. God has been gathering two or three here and two or three there, and the redeemed of the LORD gather in these companies to pray, worship, break bread and receive the teaching of Jesus. Jesus said “…I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16).
Obviously the church will never be wiped out, although it is Satan who spends his fury on attempting to do so. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again…”.
The church is the temple of God, it is where God dwells. The least, most humble church is still a place where God’s saints can resort to on a regular basis, break bread, be built up, hear the Word, pray and bring people to be evangelized.
Though there are times where Christian people see flaws and incompatibilities, and in some cases judge a church which they once belonged to as inadequate for some reason…the thing to do is leave and if possible leave on good terms, and hook up with a more compatible church.
I myself have had to leave a few churches, for doctrinal reasons, or because I thought the leadership a bit heavy handed, but I would never dream of discrediting that church or seeking to dislodge members from it. I fear God.
But to try to destroy a church, in order to justify one’s self, is to strip those blessings from others. Modern people may despise a weak, struggling church, full of flaws, spots and blemishes, but still faithful to be a constant presence, a witness to Jesus, a place of regular worship, breaking of bread and teaching… . Jesus doesn’t despise that, not in the least.