As We Rise Up, Sit Down, and Walk Along the Way
I’m not trying to rattle any cages or step on any toes or insult the magic word of “house-church.” All I’m saying is that this has got to be about Jesus. We’ve spent our lives trying to serve Him, and many of you have some years behind you. You’ve realized that every program you’ve ever started has started out “exciting” and then it loses steam, strains, fades and sputters out. Exciting, exciting and then strain…fade…sputter and you have to think of a new program. That’s because it’s a decreasing, fading glory. It’s very difficult to make it happen and to make it work.
You have leadership programs and you have splits and then a little false doctrine here and then another split. Then you start to see sin happening and broken marriages and runaway young people. There aren’t any programs that can fix that, but love can.
We are now beginning to break out of our old-school thinking of attending a big building. We are realizing that it’s not really a Priesthood of believers to have one high, holy man that makes all the decisions, controls all the money, and does all the teaching. We are realizing that’s not in the Bible.
There might be wonderful people, genuine Christians in a place. Even the leader might be a genuine, loving man who knows the Scriptures and knows God. But there’s still something wrong, and if we are honest we know in our hearts that, first of all, it’s not in the Bible. It’s not! No one can find that kind of thing in the Bible anywhere. It doesn’t exist.
The second thing we know is that the fruit is generally bad. Many, many tragedies happen in that situation that never needed to happen. Do we realize that most of the major tragedies that have happened in Christianity amongst members, pastors, families, children and marriages, we have created ourselves? It’s because we’ve built poorly. We’ve created a world where you “attend” something. You attend someone or something and listen to a speech and go through some actions. Simon says, “Pray.” Simon says, “Sing.” Simon says, “Stand up.” Simon says, “Sit and listen to a sermon if you can stay awake long enough.”
That isn’t in the Bible, which is a very important point to me. They had thirty years recorded in the book of Acts by the scientist Luke to give an orderly account of what the church looks like, and there are no Sunday morning services in there. There is no sermon-giving and no “dress-up and attend” sort of thing in there. It isn’t about meetings. It’s about quality of Life that looked like Jesus walking with the twelve. “As we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way.”
That is the message of the New Testament. That’s what it was for 3,000 people in a single day as they “…rise up, and sit down, and walk along the way.” Together! That’s the message of Jesus Christ and His people, and it’s very different from every other world religion. Islam attends a service on Friday, listens to a speech by a hired teacher (a “holy man”), and then half of the people fall asleep during the sermon. That’s what we heard from an Islamic man. He was a taxi-cab driver in Cairo who described this to us and it sounds just like most of today’s Christianity.
Now, I’m not saying that if that’s what people do, then Jesus and His Blood don’t wash them, forgive their sins, and take them Home. But what I am saying is that Jesus wants to build a Church that the gates of hell cannot prevail against.
He doesn’t want us to be little babies ten years from now where we don’t know any more of His Relationship and His Love than we did at the start. After ten years, we don’t serve Him and bear fruit (every one of us is a priest in the Kingdom of Priests) any better than we did when we were one-year-old in Christ. He wants us to grow in wisdom and stature and favor and knowledge of the Godhead and explore our gifts. “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” He wants us to explore His rooms and do His work and do greater works than He did.
We’re not going to be able to do that by attending a big building or attending a little house. That will not set captives free. But Love and devotion one to another will. “As we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way.” It’s by exploring the Life of God together, and in the process you see that look in my eyes like you would a little child. You say, “Brother, what’s wrong with you?” And I say, “You’re right. I had a little bit of temper in my home. I was frustrated with something my child did and you caught me. You saw the look in my eye and you know me and you love me.” That’s just like we would do with a child.
Many, many people know me that well in the church. That is the way the whole church ought to be: “…from the least to the greatest they all know Me.” That’s what the Bible says. The New Covenant is not about attending something. The New Covenant is that from the least to the greatest our lives are intertwined just as Jesus’ was with the twelve. In Acts, the hundred and twenty were of one accord in the upper room, and the three thousand one hundred and twenty were daily in public and from house to house—no one counting their possessions as their own. ALL the believers were together and had everything in common. It doesn’t say 10% of the committed nucleus lived that way and the rest of the people just attended something. ALL the believers—baby Christians from day one knew they were to be a Family. Those were ALL new Christians!