Hi to yourself Johan,
It seems to me as if you base your views on some aspects of the early NT church. But what about the fact that the apostle Paul addressed his letters to what we can call congregations, ie. groups of believers that already point to some degree of organization. And Jesus himself instructed the apostle John to write letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor.
Yes my views are indeed based in part on some aspects of the early New Testament Church but not entirely so. I would like to think they are based on the totality of the New Testament if not the entire Bible. Until and if someone can show me otherwise which is certainly always possible.
Paul certainly did address his letters to congregations...well...with one or two exceptions but those exceptions are not germane to this discussion.
This tells me that even in the NT church there already was already level of organization. After all, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and part of God's household; we therefore belong together; also visibly.
And yes...you are also correct in saying that there was indeed some level of organization in the NT Church and that yes, there is some measure of visibility to our togetherness (or else we would be...well...invisible and of no use to anyone LOL).
But the problem as I see it is that many of us here are so focused on the organizational aspects of Churchianity that we might be in danger of becoming almost Pharasitical about it. To the point that we might forget that with God the more important thing is the heart.
The organization of the Church is or should be a reflection of Christ living in believers through His Spirit and operating through them to do His will. It should not become something that gets codefied into some sort of legal set of rules by which we are to worship God.
The Old Testament was like that under the Law. Jesus came bringing something new.
The Pharasees constantly tried to get Jesus to fit into their outward form of religion. Jesus constantly went outside those norms and by so doing revealed their hearts to be wrong.
It is our hearts that God is after. If those are right then of course there is some level of organization or structure involved in being the Church (i.e. elders, deacons, church discipline, communion, and so forth) but the structure that is indicated, at least biblically, is a very simple structure.
It is a very flexible and beautiful structure that reflects a new understanding (under the New Covenant) that we are no longer what is seen on the outside but what is seen in the heart.
God has come to live inside of us. What was previously a holy, house of the Lord if you will in the Temple, has now shifted to become us in that the Holy of Holies has now been associated with the Presence of God in us. There is no longer a Holy House of the Lord at all under the New Covenant with regard to it being a place.
What was previously a very regulated and very involved sacrificial system has now been taken care of by Christ in what He did on the cross so that we no longer have to go through this long or involved ritual to approach God but can have confident and free access to Him by faith more like children running to sit in their Father's lap.
Man has a tendency to take pride in outward appearance. God looks at the heart.
Religion is not God's doing. It is man trying to be what can only be when God lives inside. And if we have the living God inside of us the outward acts of our religiosity become less meaningful and even uneccessary by virtue of the fact that God, GOD, has come to live inside of us Himself.
Making us holy. Making us the new temple. Making us the new place of worship in that there is no longer a designated place of worship but rather a person. Christ in us as a Body wherever we happen to be.
I know that for some of you...my statements might seem more just another recitation of opinion in that I have not given many verses but the underlying problem in our discussion, as I see it, is the overall problem of a difference in our overall perspective on Church. An overall perspective that might cause us to be technically correct in some interpretations of what is literally said in the Bible but wrong in spirit.
I have been trying to address that overall perspective that lies behind our statements.
Yes...I have been hurt and badly so by many so-called brethren in organized Churches. Well do I remember the various times that I fell into real need and had the organized Church leave me out in the cold with not so much as a willingness to extend the most meager bread crumb to me in my need. God provided to me still as He always does.
His provision came to me through those who would not be considered very spiritual at all. Persons who have been somewhat unstable mentally. Persons who have not been attending Sunday Churches. Persons who are unbelievers. Christians outside the traditional mainstream. It's like God has used the despised to shame those who are supposedly the most outwardly spiritual to help me realize in part the incredible hypocrisy that there is in organized North American Churches.
I have forgiven all such hurts and if I have not done so entirely in any particular that I perhaps have not, I do here and now forgive anyone who treated me thus. I forgive them from the heart in the Presence of a Holy God from whom I have needed so much forgiveness for myself.
But having done that I must still try and point my brethren to what I see as a real need that we stop our focus on religious assemblies and start worshipping God in spirit and truth wherever we happen to be. Whether that place is in a Sunday Church building, a park, a bus, in our homes or anywhere else. As a Body we do not need a set place of worship anymore as if not having such makes us no Body at all.
WE are the Church. WE are the Body. And Christ in us is not bound to only be touched and seen within a building. He is with us and in us. And wants to do through us what He did in New Testament times wherever the people are. Outside the confines of the Temple and it's religious observances.
Like Jesus in New Testament times who exposed hearts by going against the grain of Sabbath observance as it had become enshrined in Jewish religious tradition so to I think we need to get away from the concept of Church as being something that happens on a Sunday morning and break free into the fullness of what the Lord intended the Church to be. With or entirely without a Sunday morning time of gathering.
Now look what I have gone and done again...I've written another book of a post