Why this question?
In looking around the blog world the other day, I stumbled on a blog by Michelle Lesley. It is well written and thought out but definitely not in line with how I interpret the teachings within Timothy’s. No problem, 1 John 4:1 tells us to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”. I’m not saying Michelle is a false prophet. I am saying that I (we) are to test what we read and hear against God’s word. Not to challenge it or argue against it, but to ensure we are believing, following, sharing, teaching and preaching the right message.
Christ himself gave us an example of how we are to have this conversation in Acts 19:8 when he entered the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus: “Then he entered the synagogue and spoke boldly over a period of three months, engaging in discussion and trying to persuade them about the things of the kingdom of God.”
In a nutshell she was discussing the role of women in the church, which is not what we’ll talk about today. In a brief exchange between us, I asked “If you believe 100% what you have written here, then you believe 100% what you have taught, proselytized, preached (different people will apply different words to what we bloggers do) here. How does your work here not go against what you have said the Bible does? ” Her response took me back, “The instruction is that women are not to preach to, teach Scripture to, or exercise authority over men in the church. A blog is not the church.”
What is Church?
I have written about this before (Where We Gather and Here & Now – Worship) as this question as well as what is worship are ones far too many of us do not understand or experience.
A quick survey of a variety of versions of the Bible show that the word church shows up a little over 100 times in the New Testament. When God talks about the church with us, He is not talking about the man made denominations we’ve created, He’s talking about His people. In the Old Testament, church did equal the Temple and people were expected to gather there for sacrifices and teachings (the men anyway). But in the New Testament, Christ changes this format. The Bible does give references to congregations, but those are congregations of cities or communities, not a physical institution. So, what is church?
For the purist among you, the word church comes from the Greek word ekklesia meaning ‘assembly’ or ‘called out ones’.
First of all, we need to understand that the church is Christ:
“He is also the head of the body, the church;”. Col 1:24 (HCSB)
Then we need to understand that church is a place of gathering, but it is a place where two or more gather.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” Matt 18:20 (HCSB)
Some would argue that the Holy Spirit being present can be counted as one since He is a participant in prayer; I don’t think this supported biblically but can understand the argument when Christ gives us examples like the Garden of Gethsemane.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Matt 26:36 (HCSB) also Mk 14:32
And when we’re instructed to privately talk with Abba, one-on-one; two are present.
But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. Matt 6:5-6 (HCSB)
Christ first mentions the work of building a church in Matthew, but He is not talking about the confining walls of a building, but The Church (of Jesus Christ) full of people.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. Matt 16:18 (HCSB)
To truly understand what the church is, we must go to the Book of Acts and recognize some major shifts in societal and physical behaviors. One of the largest is the clarity of the message that no one is excluded.
The Disciples were baptized by The Holy Spirit and received His power (Acts 1:8).
Women were included in acts and in gifts. (Acts 1:14, 2:17,18)
Pentecost brought the time of speaking in tongues so the Word of God would be heard by so many more. (Acts 2:4)
One expectation was laid out for followers, REPENT. (Acts 2-38-40)
A picture of church is presented, people who devote themselves to learning, gathering, breaking of bread (eating) with a joyful and humble attitude, and praising. (Acts 2:42,46)
With all of this, we can now go to the question, are we on this blog, a church? Are we discussing, teaching, preaching, sharing, learning and supporting each other in the name of Christ? Are we asking questions to ensure what we learn is true? Does this technology allow us to find God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? I believe so and I believe I am responsible for each person who reads or shares this.
What I do not believe is that this makes me the head of a church or places me over any man who may be reading this. Just as women were including in the act of praying in the upper room, teaching in homes throughout Acts and receiving calls directly to guide others, they were not the head of their churches; they were answering God’s call to teach, proselytize, praise, whatever their gift was.
After Michelle and I chatted, I searched out many more blogs and websites hosted by women Christians and I was astonished at how many did not accept responsibility, most saying (in various ways), ‘I can not control who reads what I write’ and ‘if a man chooses to read my writings that is on him’. Really? How is ones accountability for what one shares with one gender any different than the other?
I stand in my conclusion that, I am a Disciple and it is my humble prayer that God uses me, through the Holy Spirit, to reach out to anyone who knows or does not know Him who saves us all, and provides either encouragement or hunger for their own walk with the Triune God. I know I am challenged when I sit down and do this blog for fear of false teachings [2 Peter 2:1]. I humbly pray if any of you ever feel I am guilty, you hold a conversation here with me so we all may grow.
FYI: Those of you that have followed me for a while know I use a multitude of versions of the Bible. I do this for two reasons; one, some versions have wording that is easier to understand and two, to help show that although the words may be in a different order, the meaning is the same. Currently I’m using The Apologetics Study Bible (Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)).