The writer of the Hebrews leads us to go to Jesus outside the camp. A continual tension exists between temporary structures, ministries we call them, and life in the Spirit. We want to learn to “do church” God’s way, and we remain earthen vessels. We find no “church” gets it perfectly and we individually move from time to time, and place to place. Our knowing when to move is often imperfect. That thought exposes a personal issue of perfectionism. The residue of religious teaching hangs around me. When disappointment with other believers comes, we learn to avoid the negativity and critical attitudes that so easily beset us. Those thought patterns are the seedbed of sins, of divisions.
Ministries and fellowships are formed and they grow and flourish with flows and ebbs. And we are learning to let them go and move on. Or are we? We all see in part and know in part according to our spiritual maturity. When the perfect comes, all that which we call ministry, will pass away. (1 Cor. 13) Who has the mind of the Lord? We have heard mature servants make supposed prophetic statements. At times we immediately discern they are not true, not the mind of the Lord. At other times, they prove false as events do not unfold as they said. Alignment with the Spirit is a corporate process. Correction is required. Some of us learn more slowly than others. Some never get the message. While we need to bear with one another, we must also be open to give and receive correction. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not seek its own prestige, nor position. So we must pursue the ability to speak the truth in love. The process continues.
I recently found a book by R.T. Kendall. The title, Prophetic Integrity, caught my attention. I flipped some passages and knew it was worth a read. I knew nothing of this brother beforehand but have a deep appreciation for his wisdom. And I appreciate deeply his corrective words. In a larger picture of the church than this book addresses, I believe a part of our disagreements are semantics and language. But this book is important for the church in this time. The operations of the Holy Spirit are necessary for spiritual growth. Every work of His mentioned in 1 Cor. 12 still happens. Our description of them may change but without such working we have a shell we call “Christianity”. We have religious institutions which do nothing for spiritual growth.
We do not minister without order and administration. The balance of structure and spiritual life is our continual battle. Again the tension remains. The answer is grace. To the measure we each are knowing the grace of God, we extend that to others. Which of us has not failed in this? So Paul wrote that we need to bear with one another, forgiving one another and so fulfill the law of Christ. I have personally known this aspect of the battle in the past few years. I must say we talk far too much about elections and politics rather than being salt and light. This applies to our relationships among believers as well. We have alienated one another by fanaticism. Jesus is never fanatical. He is passionate. And His passion is for men, women, and children to know our Father. He is not passionate for morality, which can be outward only. He is passionate for our hearts. He knows the heart of men and wants to bring light to the darkness. What is our pssion.?
Separation is not division. It can become so and gave rise to all the denominations. But we need to face a distressing truth. Every fellowship name becomes a denomination, a temporary entity. I want to apologize for writing that but I cannot. The Lord’s remnant is always ready to move to be separated closer to His thought. We sometimes view it as isolation but it is not so, although it can be for a time. Saul went away to Arabia. Jesus drew aside to spend time with our Father. During the past season in the U.S., perspectives regarding responses to the covid pandemic and political situations led to separations among believers. The less mature among us would get into arguments. It happened to me. Once. I have often thought about Paul’s separation from Barnabas. John Mark showed signs of what Paul considered immaturity. He was not committed to the work. They separated. It was painful I would think. I think it reveals human imperfection. We know Paul’s course onward. We do not know Barnabas’. But we do know that John Mark later was a help to Paul.
Current separations have been related to following various prophetic voices. Some have proved wrong. As one may have a revelation, an understanding from the Lord, we each should be testing that word. I have found that we can add to what the Lord has revealed. I have caught myself doing it. Sometimes we should let it cook. I had the sense that as a hen sits on the egg for a season, we should let some things hatch. Don’t say anything. The Lord will bring it to birth. He knows how to make it happen His way.
So as Paul wrote to the Philippians (Chapter 2), humility is essential for unity. Our self-life takes time to die. Others come to us hoping we will be corrected. I think at times, the Lord allows their blind spot to remain to see how we will react. It was so with the religious rulers who opposed Jesus. He dealt with them but also separated Himself before that final confrontation where He lid down His life in front of them. For some their eyes were opened to their own errors later. We should ask the Lord to search us when other believers separate from us. He is after something in each of us.