I got a question by email today that I think fits perfectly with what I’ve been discussing on this blog. The question reads like this:
Another question that I have had is, after studying early church history what denomination or church today do you think comes closest to what early Christians believed?
Here was my answer:
I think the existence of a denomination completely undoes what the early Christians believed, so I can’t pick a best one.
The church has several purposes. It is the gathering of those Jesus loves, who will eventually become his bride. It is the place where Jesus reigns on the earth, and thus it demonstrates to the world what the eternal kingdom of God will be like. That is why our love for one another and our unity are said to be the way the world will know that both we and Jesus himself are of God (Jn. 13:34-35; 17:20-23).
The church is also the place where we are able to grow together into Jesus’ image and learn the righteousness of God. Most Christians don’t understand the danger of having our own righteousness and how able we are to be deceived in such matters (Heb. 3:13). Our righteousness can easily turn into the Pharisees’ righteousness, and the Pharisees infuriated Jesus (and thus his Father as well). We don’t want to be like them, trying to be holy but infuriating God in the process!
Thus, I don’t care whether a worship service is liturgical, loud, quiet, or in what order it is. I look at fruit, like Jesus said to do (Matt. 7:15 or around there). Where are Christians loving one another, building one another up, and admonishing one another? There, the truth of God will descend, and if those Christians will continue together, they will grow together.
I join myself to those Christians. I don’t join myself to their meeting. I join myself to them. I become their friend, and I spend as much time as possible with them. Chances are, I will meet with them, too, no matter how good or bad their meetings are.
1900 years ago, it would have been much easier. I could also have had a meeting where the Lord’s Supper was properly understood and happened weekly. I could have found everything I describe above and had such a meeting. Today, it’s not so easy.
In the end, though, the most important thing is the fruit I describe above, and it is hard to say where you will find that. When I go to a new town, which I have done a lot, I ask God to guide me to people that I can have that kind of fellowship with.