The Contrast - The Solution
Those organizations and institutions that we typically call "churches" are not THE Church. There are only two kinds of "Church" mentioned in the Bible - the universal Body of Christ and the local City Church or (in the Greek) ekklesia - the assembly of those who have been called out.
There was the Church of Jerusalem, the Church of Ephesus, the Church of Corinth. There was NEVER meant to be First, Second and Third Churches of Jerusalem - much less the Church of Apollos, Peter, Paul - much less the "Reformed Reconstituted Secondary Church of Paul of the Holy Saturday Not Sunday." All of that is going to burn in the fire anyway, so maybe we ought to just lay it down now.
We're supposed to be ONE Body and we're supposed to be about JESUS. We're supposed to forgive seventy times seven and not let the sun go down on a disagreement. We're not supposed to split off and let theologies and philosophies of Man and personal grudges divide us into little pieces. That can only have been Satan's idea.
There were to be no divisions and factions and denominationalism. In fact, that we have that stuff currently rampant in our "church" system means that we're in BIG trouble!
'The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.' Galatians 5:19-21
Or how about this one?
'You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.' Galatians 5:13:15
We put ourselves under "Law" when we teach that people must go to church, must tithe, must volunteer, must have "prayer cover", must whatever - or their salvation is in question or God is unhappy with them. Are we saved by Grace or not? Does He love us unconditionally or not? Can any of our efforts and works and rules add one iota to our salvation? Can He love us any more than He already does? We've given up our Freedom and Life and Grace in exchange for programs and systems and structures of Man. Forgive us, Lord. You are sufficient. We should have let you be in charge.
Or this one?
'Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: "Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall." Luke 11:17
OUCH! Just in Liberty, Missouri (population 28,000) we have 40+ churches that call themselves "Christian" and some of them won't have anything to do with each other! We have duplicating resources and massive waste because the Body of Christ has been subdivided up into little chunks that mostly don't talk to each other. That can't possibly be what Jesus wanted, could it?
There is NO Biblical mandate to go into all the world and build buildings and organize into corporations and get tax exemption certificates. We did that part because WE thought it would be a good idea and make us more efficient - but we're losing. There's no other way to look at it, we're losing this battle because we're fighting the wrong way. We're shackled to the "World" and doing things the way that seems best to Them. We're leaking people out of the churches like crazy, we're losing the youth, we're watering down our message and we're viewed as hypocrites to the "World". Maybe it's time to repent and do it the way Jesus wants it done.
Jesus is the Truth and the Life. He is the Living Water. Without Him we're all toast. He is the Head of the Church. He is Commander and King. ONLY by Him are we saved from the just consequences of our own sinfulness. ONLY He should get to direct us. If we put Man in His place, then we have created an idolatrous system and we're in BIG trouble. He is Messiah and He is the Risen Son of the Living God. He is the Word.
The ONLY proper response to Him is this:
We were never supposed to be comfy here. We were supposed to be aliens in a strange land. We're supposed to be persecuted the more we become like Him. If we're not being persecuted much then we must not be enough like Him.
More than anything else, it comes down to this - what would it look like if we started doing it HIS way?
So what's it supposed to be like?
'But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.' Galatians 5:22-26
Well, that sure doesn't sound like what we've got! What should we do?
'Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.' Galatians 6:1-5
The LAST thing we need are more "churches". What we need is lots more Jesus! And for that, we first need to repent for all the time we spent cultivating factions and division and dissension! This website is NOT about starting a new church.
The "Church of Liberty" has always existed, it is the body of believers that are truly and completely sold out to Christ and willing to walk in His ways (those called out). It's just that this invisible Body has been sliced up into hundreds of little chunks spread out all over town. And not just in the institutional churches, there are probably tons of folks at home by themselves who love Jesus but are completely disillusioned with the "system" we've built.
(We're NOT recommended an ecumenical outreach that includes all kinds of folks that don't even believe in Jesus. We are specifically commanded to avoid being "unequally yoked to unbelievers". We're NOT calling for peace and harmony amongst all people under one banner. There's only ONE character in the Bible that wants a One World Church and he's NOT on our team. Unfortunately, the Bible predicts a massive wave of this -- due right about now.)
'Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.' James 3:13-18
"You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothingif it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?" Galatians 3:1-5
Since humans seem to innately want to assert control and argue and divide, pretty quickly the whole thing began to devolve into a duplication of the pagan model of temples and worship of distinct gods in distinct ways. But that's not what Jesus wanted, but we did it anyway. Forgive us, Lord.
Despite 40+ churches here, we have needs in this town that are going unmet and people hungry and thirsty and alone and naked and sick and in prison. What are we going to do about it? Where are the ones who are "called out"? Where are the warriors that won't back down and who love Christ more than anything else in the world?
It's time to stand up and take one step forward.
Had enough? Ready to repent of all the time, money and lives wasted? Ready to beg God to wash away all the blood on our heads? Ready to get your own heart right and start restoring the City Churches?
If not, try some of these. The problem is REALLY big. Beware, some of these are VERY harsh. Please understand, it wouldn't be loving for us to sugar-coat the truth.