According to Harvard Institute, there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. Of those, about 314,000 are Protestant and other Christian churches, and 24,000 are Catholic and Orthodox churches. Non-Christian religious congregations are estimated at about 12,000 members. Looking at these numbers and how we as a Church body have evolved, I wondered to myself what it would look like if the Apostles came to a weekly service at one of our assemblies. This is not meant to offend any group or any minister or priest of the gospel, but it is intended for us to look at this with new fresh wine skins. I feel I have a call to write to those in Christianity, but in the past I was not always humble with my wording.
So, I ask you, what would happen if Paul the apostle showed up in your town today and wanted to go to ‘church.’ While pondering this, I decided to do a small allegory involving any ole Christian and the apostle Paul.
Paul: “So where do they hold the meetings?”
Believer: “Let me see, “Well, Paul are you Catholic or what Christian denomination do you prefer?”
Paul: “Catholic or Denominational?”
Believer: “Yes, what doctrine do you believe is best?”
Paul: “You mean God’s Word, the Torah and writings?”
Believer: “No, no, no, (Shakes head) Paul, what type of Christian are you”? Are you more laid back and quiet, or are you more the Pentecostal type?”
Paul: “Christian? “Pentecostal? You mean the day of Pentecost/ Shavuot right? When we celebrate the harvest and when the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) fell in cloven tongues of fire?”
Believer: “I guess so” (Shrugs shoulders).
Paul: “You mean the day Written about in Acts right”?
Believer: “Um, I guess so? Well, let’s see, maybe we should approach this subject matter differently. Do you want to see a live skit? They put on a very good show at New Builders light of Grace church.”
Paul: “A show?”
Believer: “Oh, I know what you may like is a sermon done in Latin! Father Donatella does have quite the service.”
Paul: “Father? You call him Father?”
Believer: “Yes, Paul we do.”
Paul: “But Jesus said, “Do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” Matthew 23:9 NIV.
Believer: “Really, He said that?”
Paul: “Yes he did.”
Believer: “Well Paul, pastor John Peach Tree Thomas, is mighty anointed! Why, once he made every hair on my arm stand straight up when he preached. On second thought… never mind, the board voted him out.”
Believer: “Yes Paul we have boards. We have to maintain order. There is no way this whole church thing could operate without having all the people in place.”
Paul: “Yes, of course. Do you think they would let me speak this morning; I have a word I wanted to bring. I believe it is a word for the times and one of urgent need concerning idolatry and the Sabbath.”
Believer: “Well, Paul they would have to go over that with the priest or pastors and have a meeting about it. They’d need to see if your style of preaching is a good fit for their congregation. Then you could read their statement of faith, you know “what they believe” and see if it goes along with what suites you.”
Paul: “This reminds me of when I wrote a letter to the congregation in Asia. Diotrephes loved being number one; he gave himself the title of bishop and magnified himself. It is sad really because Christ/ Messiah is the head of the church/ Ecclesia. I wrote about it in 3rd John. Have you read that book”? In Chapter one I said, “I wrote a letter to the congregation. But Diotrephes, who loves to be in charge, won’t accept us” 3rd John 1:9 ISV. Even Jesus/ Yeshua said, “…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve…” (Matt. 20:26-28 NASB)
Believer: “Yes, ahem (clears throat) Paul you have brought up some really good points, nonetheless, you see we have been doing things a certain way for so long, goodness, probably almost 2000 years. It certainly would be hard to change them now. Nonetheless, I am quite sure I can find you a really good church to go to if you just give me a chance! I know some dynamic speakers.”
Believer: Paul, what style of worship music do you prefer? Do you like old hymns or more upbeat styles? I know, I bet you would go for the Christian rock music? It’s really popular.”
Paul: (shakes his head) “Rock? You mean Jesus/ Yeshua, right? He is the rock of our salvation.”
Believer: “Yes Paul, He is. Walk with me Paul and you’ll see right here on the corner is a Lutheran church to attend.”
Believer: “Yes named after Martin Luther.”
Paul: “Wait, you name churches after men? But we are a body.” I wrote about that in Acts 17:24 when I said, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”
Believer: “Look Paul, across the street is a Methodist church, and then just a mile south is a Baptist church, and then two miles north is a Southern Baptist church.”
Paul: “Why so many in such close proximity? Are they all full of believers and cannot hold anymore?”
Believer: “Oh no, the Lutheran church only has 15 members, and the Methodist has about thirty in their congregation.”
Paul: (Looking grieved) “Why don’t they meet in the same place then? And what do you mean by members? We are all members of one body; I wrote about that in Ephesians. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:4-6.
Believer: “Paul, with so many different beliefs systems, it just works better this way. They can’t seem to agree and are divided on certain topics.”
Paul: “But Yeshua said “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Matthew 12:25.
CURTAIN CLOSES! SHOW IS OVER.
God is raising up men and women in this hour, and I believe revival, true revival that doesn’t require an evangelist or a prophet or a sign out front. Light in Goshen is going to break forth. It will not be one of signs and wonders, shaking, healings of disease, laughter, and so forth, but it will be one of repentance and I see assemblies all across this land weeping over the condition of our nation and the Body.
Somewhere underground in a foreign land many are living in fear over their belief in Jesus/ Yeshua. Not only do they have to hide their faith but also the small amount of Bibles they have access to. When they meet they don’t have special lighting except His light. They own no sound system, just their voices lifted in praise. Their clothing, is but humble apparel. I pray that one day (The Church) not the harlot church in Revelations, but the pure bride of Messiah comes together in unity. A church where He is First and Last and evermore and no man will get His Glory, or has to try and stir up His Set Apart Spirit/ Ruach HaKodesh because He abides in all of us. Genocide is happening in other countries. Christians are being slaughtered as I type this, and I am sure that in the face of ISIS or other terroristic groups, none of us would be worried about our titles, our denominations, or appearances, but would be joining together as one, with a bond that is incomprehensible. Do not forsake the gathering together for His Sabbaths and His Feast.
Photography by Ândrēw Yīsrâ’Ęl