Life Centered vs Meetings Centered
I understand that there are some resources you send us. It can be in the form of money, or sometimes videos and other things. The problem is the resources are not marked. And someone will say, “I’m going through this problem” and another will say, “I know, some money will go to you.” But then you find out that the promise is not fulfilled. This is a problem for some of us because there is a rising of doubts. I understand that it’s not easy.
When I speak in English, are you able to understand what I’m saying? I know when you want to speak, you use a translator. Should I go slower so that somebody can translate back?
No, I’m good I think.
Let’s consider three things. First of all, we talked a lot yesterday about the fact that Christianity has nothing to do, really, with meetings. Now it’s very hard to get this through our thick heads. We’ve all been taught that Christianity is about “having meetings,” and we are so used to that. When you read the Bible, you get a very different idea. It’s mostly about the Life and a little bit about the meeting.
You can hardly find any meetings mentioned in the entire book of Acts. You see Paul on the seashore before he leaves and he is hugging the Ephesian elders. Is that a meeting? Is this a meeting? What was a meeting? 1 Corinthians 14 says, “When you come together brothers and the whole church is together, everyone has a word of instruction, a song, and a revelation.” That’s a meeting.
Now there’s one other case in Acts 20 where they came together to break bread, and they stayed all night. Paul was leaving the next morning, and after midnight, they broke bread. It was Monday morning. They broke bread together and then Paul left. What did that meeting mean exactly? Is that something, one time in 30 years in the book of Acts, that we should focus on…that one time? And the meeting goes on all night. Should we do that because they had one meeting in the book of Acts? Should we stay all night every time we get together, because they did?
We have this idea that there are meetings on every page in the New Testament. And that’s just not true. It’s not in the Bible that we are to be meeting-centered. We are Life-centered the same way Jesus was with the twelve.
How many sermons did Jesus preach? Well there’s one that we call the Sermon on the Mount, but He’s sitting on a hillside with some friends and He’s talking. That’s not a sermon. That’s Jesus talking to His friends. He is talking about parables as He walks along the way, “The Kingdom of God is kind of like that field…” Is that a meeting?
Is that a sermon?
Jesus is being a friend and loving His brothers and helping them grow. “As we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way.” There aren’t very many meetings in the New Testament.
Now is it wrong to have a meeting? No. 1 Corinthians 14 says, “When the whole church is together and revelation comes to the second, let the first one sit down. Everyone has a word of instruction and a song.” That’s the only true “meeting” verse in the entire New Testament. The only true “meeting” passage is in 1Corinthians 14. There are certain other things here and there we learn about that have to do with the saints being together. We know that women should be covered by the men’s influence. But the only true “meeting” verse is in 1 Corinthians 14.
You can read the book of Acts again and again. When they are in synagogues, they’re visiting Jewish people. That’s not their meetings. They are using their heritage, their background of Judaism, to try to win people to the Messiah. They are visiting a “fishing tank” and they’re trying to find good fish in the fishing tank. They are not attending services. They were Jews by their background, and so they felt free to go to those meetings, but those weren’t Christian meetings. Those were Jewish meetings.
It’s like this: If I used to be a Muslim, I could still sneak in and out of their Friday meetings. If they still let me come and go, I might try to meet people in order to win them to Jesus. I might do that. It’s a fishing hole. It’s a net that we throw out. When they were in the synagogues, that wasn’t Christian meetings.
Paul was just publicly teaching when he was in the lecture hall of Tyrannus and everyone in the province of Asia heard about Jesus. That would be like standing in the street over there teaching whoever walked by about Jesus. That wasn’t a church meeting. That was Paul proclaiming that the Messiah had come and everyone in the province of Asia heard him. So even that is not a church meeting the way we think of it…Sunday morning: go sit down; listen to a sermon; time to leave. That’s not in the Bible.
I’m saying all of this as a background because part of our problem comes when we build the wrong way. If our life is primarily about meetings, then we’re going to have a lot more money problems. We’re going to have a lot more jealousy problems. We’re going to have a lot more leadership problems. We’ll have a lot of problems, unless our life is primarily like what was described yesterday, where the cake (our daily life) is maybe 90-95% and the icing is the meeting. We eat the cake—our life is our cake. It’s our families. If you all lived where I live, I would be in your homes almost every day and you would be in my home. I would know your children so well that they would jump into my lap, and mine would jump into yours—a hundred daddies and a hundred mommies. You live this way, and then you happen to come together for a little icing from a meeting every once in a while.
And problems will be worked out in the flow of daily life. If you think that I’m being a little bit prideful, and you want to help me to see that pride, then that doesn’t have anything to do with a meeting. You’re not going to avoid me until the next meeting. You’re going to talk to me! Because most of our life is, “Hey, let’s go for a walk. I need to tell you something. I’m kind of bothered by something. It’s troubling my heart and I want to be wrong.”
And then if I hear you, Jesus said that you’ve won your brother. If I won’t hear you, then you say, “Come on, let’s go talk to a couple brothers. I’m not communicating very well. It’s probably my fault. I could even be wrong, but I think you’re not hearing me. And maybe a couple of brothers could help me understand your position or maybe they can explain my position better than I can.” That’s Matthew 18. You work together in relationships to try to solve these problems.