Last week I talked about prayer and the need for constant communication with the Lord. I finished with the statement that “This type of prayer takes quite a while to develop. It takes practice, experimentation, and persistence. Very few start out praying this way—and many who do start this way have it trained out of them by religion.”
Religion is anathema to this
In most religious groups the entire level of communication discussed in this book is very much frowned upon. By its very nature religion does not have this type of relationship with God. Let’s quickly define religion:
Religion is man’s attempts to please God by building rigid organizations and defined rituals.
Direct, personal engagement with the Lord almost always steps outside the bounds of religious policy very quickly. Jesus was [and is] always in trouble with religion. In fact, it is not far wrong to say that religion killed Jesus.
To cover the reasons why this is true I suggest you get a copy of Watchman Nee’s Love not the World. In this marvelous book, he discusses what happens when a true ministry of God, started by an apostle and led directly by the person called by God to lead it, continues on after the death of the leader.
This problem has been exacerbated by the growth of corporate ministries. Corporations step entirely outside the idea of God calling a person by replacing the person with a group who is actually legal fiction. Nee’s point is that any ministry which can survive and stand on its own without God quickly loses all contact with God. Corporations are not real people and are designed specifically to stand on their own perpetually. Once the original leader called by God goes home, they should be shut down.
Watchman believed [and I agree] that any ministry which can survive and thrive without the direct daily need of the anointing and intervention of the Holy Spirit has become religious as opposed to being a part of the Kingdom. If I remember accurately (though this may be my experience speaking now after nearly forty years since I read the book), the distinction is between an organism whose life flows from the vine and an self-sustaining organization. The Kingdom is an organism. The church is thousands of organizations.
Organizations do not need God and have no direct contact with God as a group unless there is a godly person in charge who has been called to that position by God himself. Ministries in the kingdom are not led by committees, but by apostles [people called and sent by God to start a work] or more rarely prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers. As mentioned, I believe that most ministries should be shut down when the person with the vision goes home to be with the Lord.
Obviously, this calls into question the viability of denominations and helps explain why mainline churches and long-existing denominations, in particular, are usually lifeless. For example, Luther and Wesley were radical believers filled with life. That life barely lasted two generations in most cases.
Only when God calls and sends an apostle to head up an existing congregation of a denominational church does one come to life. But sadly, even then, many denominations regularly rip the leadership from a lively church and move it elsewhere. The conscious plan, believe it or not, is that believers should not become attached to a local leader.
(How could a denomination retain control in that case?)
So, you may well be on your own as you develop the relationship you need with the Lord. This is not a large problem because the Lord is more than enough to help anyone. Plus, He will normally bring you into contact with other believers on the same path as yourself. Ask the Lord for a relationship with the portion of the church He wants you to become involved with. Once He tells you, get involved deeply and tenaciously. Support it with the fruit of your life—first fruits. When you are where God puts you, the assumption is that you will stay there long enough to grow and mature.
REMEMBER! You are not avoiding the church, but religion
The Lord Jesus is head of the church by the power of His Holy Spirit. If your church leadership does not acknowledge this in its everyday life, you probably have a problem. Religions want all communication with God to come through the organization and its leadership. The church is constantly communicating with the Lord. Every member of the church is expected to pray without ceasing and communicate constantly throughout every day.
This posting is an edited excerpt from Knowing Jesus As His Bride which talks about the bedrock of our faith and the reason God made us.
Next week we’ll look at what you need to look for in a true, living branch of the Vine—a church where you can grow and minister while it ministers to you.
|Love Not the World: A Prophetic Call to Holy Living
By Watchman Nee / CLC Publications
In this hard-hitting and controversial book, Watchman Nee states that there’s a satanic power behind every worldly thing and that the natural tendency of every worldly system such as politics, education, literature, science, art and music is to move away from God and toward Satan. Nee explores how the Christian can live and work in these systems but not be “of the World.”
- The Liberal Roots of the Emergent Church (lamblion.us)