This week we will be discussing pain and how it binds people. But first, we will discuss how the church must operate by God’s design. Because while the church is perfectly equipped to address pain and overcome strongholds of the enemy, it can only do that if it functions by God’s design.
Many Christians have been lured into idolatry and paganism dressed up as Christianity. However, God has a design for the church, and it is good, and it can be found. It easy to feel like you are following God’s design if your context is an organized church structure and correct doctrine. However, God’s design starts with laying down your life and taking up your cross. In America, we’re more likely to question doctrine than daily practice. For example, the practices of age segregation or the weekly sermon structure are generally accepted, while people will debate whether or not one could lose one’s salvation. Sometimes, the practices which contradict God’s design are less obvious, like those being done by the hypocrites in Isaiah 58. What about practices like tax-exemption and paid positions? Why do we change the creative, expressive, and supernaturally-empowered gifts of God into a job? When it becomes a job, what is the motivation? Is it a move of God, or the need to pay the bills? Where are we instructed in Scripture to bring unbelievers into our worship gatherings? Surely we are meant to care for an minister to the very least of these – we are to be selfless servants, declaring the love of God in our words and actions. However, when we gather as the Body of Christ to worship our Lord, what role does someone who doesn’t believe that Lord exists play?
Many people are offended by questioning church practice. It can be scary to step outside of what we’ve always known and been told is proper, accepted, and even “holy”, even though there is little biblical support for our modern practices, and many instructions in scripture which we do not follow. In John 5:19, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, these things the Son does in like manner.” We must have the same attitude of obedience.
God’s design is far superior to any manmade structure. So let’s not simply follow what is popular, accepted, traditional, well-funded, or highly visible, and instead follow what God has done and is doing. Most churches are divisive from their inception – denominations are divisive. We also hold up church traditions as something sacred – as a heritage or legacy. Just because a practice was widespread or longstanding does not make it good or holy.
The church of God is a supernatural organism – the Body of Christ. It is God’s temple, which He indwells. God gives His people the Holy Spirit, and through Him, spiritual gifts. These gifts should be functioning together. Modern practices should not replace nor obstruct the functioning of the gifts. Our experience of the Holy Spirit should not be reduced to a planned meeting. If every minute of a “church service” is already planned, then what need is there for the Holy Spirit?
According to 1 John 3:8, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. One of those works is abuse and its effects. Abuse of any kind destroys someone at their core and binds them. When people function according to God’s design, their spiritual gifts work to remove satan’s strongholds on people. This is how people get free. However, the manmade church is insufficient to address pain. God designed a functioning, spiritually empowered group of people to deal with pain and deal with deceptions and strongholds. If those outside the covenant are within this assembly, they will not be able to help in this work, and will likely be used by satan to oppose it.
For more insight into pain and its effects, please see the books “Pain and Pretending” and “Love: No Strings Attached” by Rich Buhler
Jon Foreman – The Cure for Pain http://www.jonforeman.com/
John Reuben – The Boy vs. the Cynic http://www.johnreuben.com/
This episode originally broadcast live on July 24, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO
For more info: