About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Denomination Blues


The old blues song entitled "Denominational Blues" speaks to the confusing world of Christian denominationalism.  If you've fallen through the cracks of this ecclesiastical confusion, there is hope for you.  


In denominational terms I might be considered a Pentecostal because I pray in tongues, but, because I'm Pentecostal by experience and not by doctrine, that makes me a questionable Pentecostal.  That might allow the Baptists to take a second look at me, but, since I don't believe in eternal security as they teach it I wouldn't get a third look.  My stand against eternal security might make me a good Methodist until I suggest there is no Scriptural prohibition against drinking beer or wine, which, might get me on the good side of Anglicans.  However, since I believe in the Deity of Christ, many Anglicans would ask for their glass of wine back as they escort me to the door.  Being a Prophetic Futurist I'd remind them of the soon coming of Jesus and challenge them to repent.  My Futurist friends would concur with my challenge, that is, until they learn that I lean towards a lesser known view of Futurism.  I'll leave my doctrinal dilemma at that.  I think you get my point. 


I know there are many who are caught in the ecumenical cracks for various reasons, not just for doctrinal reasons.  For those seemingly homeless souls, take heart.  You have a home in the Body of Christ.


In 1 Corinthians 12:27 the Apostle Paul said; "You", and that's the corporate you, "are the Body of Christ".  Let's take Paul's words at face value.  I don't believe he was thinking symbolically or allegorically, and even if he was, that wouldn't change things.  Those of us who have the Holy Spirit within us form the literal Body of Jesus on earth since He is not here in human form as He once was.  As Ephesians 1:22, 4:15, and 5:23, states; we are His body and He is our Head.     


Paul then said, "Each one of you is part of it".  "It" refers to the Body of Christ.  To understand Paul, just look at your body.  It consists of numerous parts with varying functions that are joined together to form one coherent body.  Your body parts aren't isolated parts scattered across your living room floor.   


There are two reasons why each one of your body parts is joined to another.  One reason is relational.  One part is joined to another for mutual support so it doesn't end up in a chunk pile of mismatched parts.  The other reason is functional.  Each body part has a specific task to perform which can only be accomplished when united to another specific part.  Your body consists of numerous individual parts that are joined in relationship with other specific parts for the sole purpose of fulfilling their function in the process of maintaining a healthy coherent body.  We all understand how our bodies work.  Why can't we apply this to the Body of Christ?


In many respects the Body of Christ in 
the western world is dysfunctional,
 unproductive, and self-serving.  We've managed to massacre Jesus' body by chopping it up into multitudes of isolated parts, leaving no real visible expression of one coherent body.  With body parts strewn all over the place, how can our Head interact with His body when it has been severed at the neck?  If we chopped up our physical bodies like we chop up the Body of Christ, we'd end up in a cemetery. 


The New Testament church is the literal Body of Christ on earth where individuals are joined to a few others in what I call "functional relationships".  We are joined for friendship and fellowship that enables us to function with one another as we are meant to function.    


Some might suggest that all of this is just first century church imagery.  We've come a long way since then.  I agree that we've come a long way since then, but, history tells us that the way in which we've come has been riddled with unbiblical, secular, and even pagan influences that remain with us to this very day.    


So, if you've fallen through the ecclesiastical cracks caused by unbiblical infringements into that which we call church, ask yourself this simple question.  "Who are my close Christian friends"?  Then consider why they are your friends.  Could it be that Jesus has joined you to these people?  If so, then you've found your home in the Body of Christ, a home where you have both support and ministry.  In New Testament terms, ministry evolves from supportive personal relationships in the Body of Christ, not from rigid hierarchical ecclesiastic organizations.  Once knowing who Jesus has joined you to in fellowship and friendship, ask Him what He'd have you and your friends do in the process of fulfilling your function in His body.    


All this has significance for us today.  Our anti-Christ culture and governments are making it progressively harder for what is commonly called the traditional church to continue to survive in its present form.  As it is in Iran, China,and many other parts of the world today, our only hope will be in the living Body of Christ where we are joined in "functional relationships".  At some point we'll be forced to be a networked group of believers in the Body of Christ that is spread from street to street, city to city, and nation to nation. 


This is how it worked with the first century church. Jesus joined the Apostle Paul to Timothy, Silas, and a few others.  They were friends in fellowship, functioning together in service for Jesus.  That was Paul's ecclesiastical world view and experience.  If this is your ecclesiastical world view and experience, you have no need to sing the "Denominational Blues".


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