A couple of weeks ago, Peace-Loving Warrior and I decided to "play hooky" from the church we have been attending and explore the idea of worshipping via "home church" with family and friends. It was a small group, only six of us. But it was such a liberating, educational, and inspirational experience for us Believers!
PLW opened our gathering with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to be with us and guide us in our quest for a closer relationship with God. He then led our discussion and introduced a subject that caused us to go deep into our understanding of the Bible and God's message to us. He introduced a concept that most of us were unfamiliar with ... the Paradox of Grace. The paradox comes when two truths that seem to conflict with each other, are yet inseparable. The verse that challenged our minds and our understanding was Philippians 2:12-13 ... work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
The purpose of this post is not to dissect that paradox, but to share how much I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss, in-depth, the meaning of Scripture. We all had different church backgrounds, which played a part in our worship, but we all agreed on one thing ... we were seeking to know God's truth and to gain a closer relationship with Him through His Word.
How can I describe what a difference it made in my soul? There was such a contrast between sitting in a pew listening to someone give a speech on the meaning of a particular Bible passage, and being part of the discussion itself; I guess you could describe it as the difference between being passive and active. There is nothing that compares to going to and fro, searching the Scriptures, for God's counsel on a subject. I want to hear what HE has to say, and then deliberate among fellow believers to get the most understanding I can.
I must confess that the modern Church has left me cold. For quite awhile, I have not been content to just "show up" and count that as worshipping my Lord. I am not interested in being part of a "membership". And I have grown tired of "lukewarm" messages that don't make obedience to God relevant in today's culture. We have serious issues that God tells us are wrong and offensive to Him, yet our Churches seem to want to placate everyone and tolerate society's ills. The younger generation claims that they want less glitz and glamour in the Church and more of Jesus, but their view of the politically-correct Jesus is not the Jesus I find in my Bible. And so I find that I am no longer "fed" in the concept of Church as "big", "inclusive" and "accommodating".
I want to know the Jesus that walked with the Disciples. I want to clear away all the centuries of denominational doctrines and creeds, and get to know Him in a close-up and personal fashion. He doesn't require a packed house, or a church band, or the latest technology to speak to me. In fact, He said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." I can't tell you how many times I have sat in a crowded sanctuary and felt He was nowhere near.
Home church is probably not for everyone. There are those who are more comfortable following the Leader model; but God tells us that He is available to all of us if we will just seek Him. Those who are new in their faith need discipling, but that does not exclude a home church atmosphere. The best mentors that discipled me did so in a one-on-one relationship, which is very conducive to home churches. The only disclaimer I would make is that everyone involved must commit to a Biblical interpretation of Scripture. With the Holy Spirit's guidance we all can discern God's message in the Bible. You don't need a seminary degree for that.
So the result of our gathering was that our little group of six, huddled in our living room with Bibles spread before us, feasted on His Word and spent over two hours getting to know our Lord. Needless to say, we changed subjects often, and explored Scripture for answers to our questions, and our fears and doubts. We also shared the passages that illuminated the glory of God and strengthened our faith. And I couldn't help but feel that we were blessed by our convening in such a manner. After all, it is the way the Church began; and the first-Century home churches were conducted by people who had worshipped at Jesus's feet and who followed His example.
I'm not advocating that our Church buildings and congregations be abandoned. There is room for both in the Kingdom of God. But if you want a sweet, intimate encounter with our Lord, invite some friends in for a "home church" experience. You will receive God's grace, favor, and abundant blessings.
1 Corinthians 16:19 "The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord."