Answering The Charge Of “Chaos”

1 Corinthians 14:26,

26. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

1 Corinthians 14:33,

33. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 14:40,

40. Let all things be done decently and in order.

In various discussion forums I have been a part of, I have more than once seen someone make the charge that a church meeting must have some kind of formalized liturgy with an officiant overseeing it, else the meeting would descend into “chaos”.

The idea goes like this: if everyone in the church got to stand up and share, testify, sing, teach, exhort, or whatever, the meeting would last ten hours. There is no logical way everyone can have the right to do their thing. Things would get out of hand. Brother or sister so and so, who everyone knows is crazy, would end up offending someone, and all the visitors would head for the exits. There would be no control over the meeting; people would end up talking over each other, or competing to have their song be sung first…

And on and on goes the argument. Some have so seriously believed the charge that they’ve come to believe that Paul was being sarcastic in 1 Corinthians 14:26, i.e. that he knew and understood that when the Corinthians believers all came together, everyone of them wanted to do “their thing”, but that doing “their thing” would result in an un-edifying mess, hence the rules he laid out in the chapter 14 of his epistle.

There is no doubt that God wants things to be orderly and decorous. A messy church reflects a messy Savior, and Jesus is anything but that. But why assume that allowing each member of the Body of Christ in a local assembly an opportunity to be used by God automatically leads to a chaotic situation?

Can it not be recognized instead that, when a meeting is led by and of the Holy Spirit of God, God, who loves order, will make sure order is maintained, and that Jesus Christ, as Head of His own Body, will be the only “officiant”, as it were, to direct the goings-on?

I submit to you, the reader, that the charge of chaos is really a confession of unbelief. We simply cannot fathom how God can sovereignly orchestrate a meeting, where all who volunteer to Him by faith, can be used by Him, at His discretion, in His timing, when He decides, in a way that is edifying, uplifting, encouraging, and in order. Instead we think we need a trained clergy to set us up with an “order of service”, not knowing or not caring that such a thing isn’t in the Bible.

What is in the Bible is an active, vibrant priesthood of all believers, each a lively stone reflecting the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, first to one another, and then, to the outside world. Putting a liturgy on things, where only the trained get to be involved, keeps large portions of the Body of Christ neutered and inhibited from ever showing what Jesus looks like through them, to others. Never getting a real chance to show the rest of the church and the world at large what Jesus looks like means the Body of Christ isn’t really “fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love…” (Ephesians 4:16).

Yes, people may stumble. New converts are likely to stutter and have difficulty prophesying for the first, or even fifth time. But so what? They’re just kids, after all, and like anyone with children understands, it takes time for someone to become adept at something, even if that something is being used by God successfully, in a way that keeps the order God prefers when His people meet. Every joint in a body is supposed to be offering the whole something of value. The same is true in the Body of Christ. We have to allow every joint a chance to supply something of worth to the whole, so the whole may be edified, in love. Having a bunch of unequipped saints sidelined in the pews weakens everyone.

Now, I realize that this may sound nice and all, in theory. But what about in practice? Can every member of a local assembly really have a chance, in a meeting, to participate and share? I mean, what if the local assembly has 50+ members? How would it be possible?

First, let it be known that mass meetings of the saints are not the typical norm of the New Testament Scriptures. We read right away in Acts 2:42 that the 3,000 new disciples met “house to house”, but did they do it all at once, together? Not at all. They did it in small groups. There is more than one reference in the New Testament to so-called “house churches” (See, for example Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:12, and Philemon 1:2).[1] These verses prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that trying to get every believer in a city together on a regular basis wasn’t what the Holy Spirit had in mind. Rather, pockets of believers were welcome to move amongst themselves and fellowship with each other at any and all times, without any formal liturgy or clergy present. Each meeting usually involved a meal for all to share, worship and thanksgiving to God, and prayer. Occasionally, especially gifted servants of the Gospel would arrive or be sent for, and they would be used by God in the way He decided (See, for example Acts 8:14-17). But otherwise, as the saints met, their gifts and callings would begin to be showcased as the Holy Spirit moved among them and anointed those chosen by God at the time (See, for example Acts 6:1-6).

But note! If every member isn’t allowed to participate, it becomes impossible for anyone to truly discern their calling! Only when everyone is allowed to be a part of what God is doing in a meeting does it become evident who are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers, and etc. Imagine having a highly gifted prophet sitting on the bench, as it were, because he or she was a part of an assembly where they weren’t allowed to be used, because their gift didn’t fit into the schedule. Imagine someone sitting on a gift of healing and not being used because the liturgy of that day’s meeting didn’t call for the laying on of hands and the anointing of oil in the name of the Lord by the elders.

We all want to see the power of God. We all want a demonstration of just what the Holy Spirit can do. But quite frankly, we absolutely box the Spirit of God in, and don’t let the Lord have His way. He’s merely worked into the proceedings, instead of being the author and finisher of all that proceeds from Him.

Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone was allowed to prophesy one by one (1 Corinthians 14:31), so that all may learn, and be comforted? If so, where did it happen? And how?

I can tell you where it didn’t happen: it didn’t happen in a church building, that’s for sure.

And I can tell you how it didn’t happen: it didn’t happen in a tightly organized, restrictive liturgy. That’s also for sure.

You see, when you allow the New Testament Scriptures to make sense, and when the Holy Spirit is given the chance to shine throughout the ENTIRE Body of Christ, and not just a select few, great and mighty things begin to happen. It’s not chaos. It’s not even controlled chaos. Rather, it’s the Body of Christ in all her glory, the way she is supposed to be: beautiful.

I urge you, reader, that if you are not a part of a local assembly that allows for EVERY MEMBER to function as a royal priest, and be used by God as He sees fit (and not according to whether or not a select group of elites decides if you belong in that day’s agenda), that you sincerely begin to pray and petition God to make changes.

This is not intended as a harsh criticism of the Body of Christ at large, i.e. how it now generally functions. Rather it’s a vision of how the Body of Christ at large can learn to function, in complete unity, with the Head of the Church truly being pre-eminent.

We have to begin to trust God and each other enough to know that His love for us, and the love we are supposed to have for each other (See 2 Corinthians 5:14-15), will guide us and win out. If something is revealed to another, my love for that brother or sister, and for the Lord, will keep me in check until they have had a chance to speak or share (See 1 Corinthians 14:30). If the Lord is inspiring a song in my heart, my love for Him and for the brethren will cause me to share it, as a means of blessing God, and ministering to them. Love doesn’t abandon half of the Body of Christ (or more!) to uselessness. Love embraces, accepts, and desires to see every member functioning, finding purpose and meaning in why we are called to assemble in the first place: to know the Lord and make Him known.

May God bless you and keep you, dear reader. Seek Him for truth and understanding. He will show you the way forward. Amen.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Please note that I personally don’t prefer the term “house church”. Rather, the way I say it is the church meets in homes, or house to house.

Advertisements

~ by votivesoul on 01/13/2016.

One Response to “Answering The Charge Of “Chaos””

  1. Excellent! I’ve seen many services shut down when the spirit began to move, because God was using people who weren’t part of the “trained” ministry, and that has always saddened me. We have regular services in our home where believers come together to fellowship and encourage each other. Praying that the Lord continues to bless you and your family too as you seek Him! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Mark Showalter's Blog

Always seeking to know God more

Theo-sophical Ruminations

A collage of theological and philosophical musings

%d bloggers like this: