I walked out on institutional christianity for one main reason. I wanted a deeper knowledge and intimacy with Jesus Christ. Now I know that to many of you that sounds like an oxymoron because everyone knows that if you want a closer walk with Christ you have to read your Bible more and pray more and go to church more, right? Do, do, do...Well, not exactly. After years of bouncing from one church and denomination to another I noticed a pattern. Everyone seemed satisfied with their religion. I was not.
I continued reading scripture and praying. I also began to study books and scripture to see if I could find the missing pieces. What I found was that the church gatherings I had been a part of were nothing like the picture of the 1st Century church in the New Testament. This led me to look for a church gathering in my area that looked more like those in the Bible. I was focused on form and function so I sought out a simple church gathering with people that had the right pattern based on NT principles. Again, this was not enough. I am still not satisfied.
So what is it I am looking for? If I am not complete with the status quo of the Christian masses and I am also not satisfied with a simple/house church gathering that looks more like the New Testament Church, what more is there? Where do I go from here? Starbucks? The golf course?
I am convinced that what I am looking for will not be found in an institutional church and many simple/house churches are only focused on the proper form and pattern of church to bring out desired effects. What we are looking for is people who are feasting on Christ and living by His life in the Spirit. When we have that the forms and patterns will follow.
As Paul wrote letters to the Churches he had planted he did not give them special instructions on how to "do church". We do not have a prescriptive blueprint for what a gathering of saints should look like. What we have is a constant effort to keep everyone focused on Christ. It is this Christ-centered living that results in the church we have described for us in the NT. I'm afraid that when we put forms and patterns first we have the cart before the horse. Worse, we have abandoned Christ for our own schemes.
If we want to go deeper into Christ we must do so by living by the Spirit of Life. As we do this ourselves and we gather with others who are doing the same we can finally have the mind of Christ. We become one with Him not as a reward for a biblically patterned church gathering but by faith in His completed and ongoing work in our lives.
I could search the world over looking for what draws me ever deeper and never find it because "it" is a He and He lives within me and you. What draws me is Christ and his depths and riches are unfathomable for me but together we can plummet into His depths. First we must give up all our efforts to build the right church and seek oneness with the Spirit within. He will build His Church as we are One with Him. May we consume and be consumed by our risen Lord and seek daily the bread that comes down from heaven. Then and only then will we be satisfied.