Sunday, August 20, 2006

What's in a Name? Part 2

Continuing from yesterday's post which began with the question: "Is the small house church all we need, and if not, where to then?"
Our dividing up and separating ourselves from one another into specifically named churches, be they house churches or institutional churches, exposes our individualistic mindset which reflects American culture. This is foreign to the kingdom of God.
Years ago, Juan Carlos Ortiz used a metaphor of potatoes in his book, Disciple, describing the love God's people are to be practicing.
Each individual potato belongs to one plant or another in the garden. At harvest, they are picked and put into one sack. Though they are together now, they have only been regrouped, not unified as one.
Being prepared for food, they are peeled, cut, and put into a pan. But they still haven't lost their individuality. Ortiz writes, "But what God wants is mashed potatoes. Not many potatoes - one mashed potato."
Mashed potatoes lose their individual identities as they become one, taking on a whole new identity. They've gone through a process that has radically changed them. This reminds me of Jesus' statement in Matthew 7:14: "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it."
The word "narrow" in that verse means afflict, narrow, throng, suffer tribulation, trouble. Acts 14:22 says "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Jesus promised that in this world we will have tribulation.
From Scripture as well as church history, we see that God's people who go through the fires of tribulation have the impurities burned off whereby they come forth refined as gold from the fire. Petty differences will have been incinerated, and the people of God will be one, radiating the love and the glory of God.
Again, I believe that it is an issue of the heart, not of form or structure. God will continue to process us in whatever way necessary to get us to the place where it no longer will be an issue of what kind of temple, be it house church, cathedral, auditorium or stadium, for they all become inconsequential when "the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb are [our] temple"(Rev.21:22).

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