About Jesus Steve Sweetman
My Journey Through The Ecclesiastical Maze
The New Testament teaches
unity when it comes to the church, but it does not teach unity at the
expense of the truth of the gospel. In
John 17 Jesus prayed for such unity.
In 1 Corinthians 1:12 Paul shows his disgust when the
Corinthians disrupted this unity by segregating themselves into groups
who followed certain leaders.
Besides being segregated
into denominations our local church groups segregate its people into
preschoolers, children, youth, college and careers, singles, young
married, old married, seniors, and whatever sub-groupings we can think
of. While growing up in
Evangelical circles I never got to do anything with anyone outside of my
As I stated earlier, Christ Center
was a very large two floor inner-city school. Each
class room was converted into something useful for ministry and living
accommodations. The Tuesday
night meeting room was packed, so packed that some people were sitting
on oversized window-sills. It
wasn’t the number of people squeezed into the room that caught my
attention, but was who was in the room that impressed me.
There were business men dressed in suits.
There were long-haired hippie looking guys in jeans.
There were young people and seniors alike from all corners of
The one man I remember
sitting on the oversized window-sill was quite oversized himself.
Some people were sitting on chairs around the perimeter of the
room but the majority of us were sitting on the floor. That was the
first time I spent a church meeting sitting on the floor, but I didn’t
mind. I’m sure Jesus sat
on a few floors in His day. Coming
from a background of segregation, this was a breath of fresh air to me.
These people spent the whole gathering together and actually
seemed to enjoy it.
Upon returning home,
Jesus began to do with me and others what I saw in
While growing up, my best
friends were my own age, something that changed in the early 1970s.
Over the last 40
years, and especially so in my younger days as a Christian I was blessed
to have been joined to Christian brothers who were not my age.
When I was 22 years old my closest friends whom Jesus joined me
to ranged from 20 years to about 55 years of age.
Having these brothers in my life who were twice my age provided a
source of wisdom, stability and maturity for me.
One such friend was
Virgil Earle. I was a long
haired hippie looking guy that Jesus joined to a balding Anglican
minister. We spent lots of
time together which included such things as cross-country skiing, and of
course, ministry. Then there
was Gerald Williams who was about 15 years older than me.
He was actually my dad’s friend before he became my friend. We
pretty well lived in his station wagon as we traveled the country-side
far and wide in all sorts of Christian activity. This
is what I call “functional relationships” in the Body of Christ.
Individual people are joined together in friendship, and from
these friendships ministry is born, which is the foundation to the life
of the church, or at least should be.
The age difference
isn’t the only thing I’ve experienced in these functional
relationships. Those I’ve
been joined to over the years haven’t always been of
my social or economic orientation.
I’ve never been all that prosperous financially, and I don’t
believe it’s because I
reject “prosperity teaching” as being Scriptural.
I’ve been joined to some very prosperous and influential
people at times. In the late
1970’s I often asked myself why these people wanted to be joined to me
in friendship and ministry when I wasn’t from their world.
Just to let you know,
even though I don’t believe in “prosperity teaching”, I don’t
discount those who are prosperous. There
were many wealthy and influential followers of Jesus in the New
Testament. Joseph of
Arimathea who provided the
tomb for Jesus to be buried in was wealthy. (John 19:38)
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7:17 says that we should remain in the
state in which we are in when Jesus called us to salvation.
One thing this means is that if you were wealthy when you first
came to Jesus, there’s no need to become poor.
The important thing is to allow Jesus to have control of your
wealth. And there’s
certainly nothing wrong with being paid well for your hard work.
teaching” puts way too much emphasis on material wealth, and not
enough emphasis on serving Jesus and those He places before you in godly
humility. Wealth became the
main problem with the church at Laodicea
seen in Revelation 3:14 to 22. That’s
the church that Jesus was thinking of spitting
out of His mouth. Remember
too that Jesus views wealth as being deceptive. (Matthew
13:22) For a more
detailed account on my view of “prosperity teaching” you can read my
articles on this subject at, http://stevesweetman.com/articles/prosperity/prosperity1.htm
Church should be about
being personally joined to individual people, and from this joining,
ministry evolves. That’s
not the way it normally is in the world of the ecclesiastical maze.
We like being joined to an organizational structure that is
segregated into various groups based on economic, social, age, and
theological differences which isn’t New Testament thinking.
In 1 Corinthians 12:13
Paul says that we’ve been baptized into one united body, yet we’ve
dissected this body into so many small, fragmented parts that it
doesn’t look much like a body anymore.
We have a pile of hands in one location, a pile of noses in
another, and a pile of tongues in another location. Just picture this.
As you walk down the street you see a huge pile of noses rising
high from a parking lot. My
nose stands out above the others since its larger than most. No
wonder the world views us as being more than a little strange. It’s
the gospel we preach that should make us strange in the eyes of the
world, not the way we’ve dissected the Body of Christ.
According to 1
Corinthians 3:10-15, all of our church building activity done outside
the will and purpose of God will burn in the fire of God’s judgment.
Yet any activity that is done within the will and purpose of God
will be rewarded. As Paul
says, we should be “expert master builders”, building according to
God’s blue-print, not ours. We might well be shaking our heads in
dismay on that Day of Reckoning as we see many of our building projects
burn in the fire.