Trying to understand church
By Tom Cupka, Pastor October 2022.
God looked upon Israel and called them his own, a holy nation, His children. They were ruled by judges and prophets, in the name of God around 1,000 BC. These people were under a theocracy, governed by God’s will. But at that time the surrounding nations were being ruled by kings and in 1 Samuel 8 we read how Israel throws off the governance of God’s servants and demands a King of their own; that is they demand the leadership of a monarchy. They reject God’s authority in favor of human authority.
God warns them that it will not go well, but they don’t listen. Further, God could force compliance, but they are his chosen children – he wants them to be happy, so God honors their demand even if he doesn’t agree with it (As parents often do). The kids have gotten too big for their britches, perhaps they would learn from the folly of their choices or perhaps not.
For almost a hundred years the Kingdom of Israel remains united under the varied leadership stylings of King Saul, King David and King Solomon. Each human leader struggling with their own issues. Though, such should be expected, they are human, after all. At the conclusion of Solomon’s reign, Israel splits over leadership issues (Didn’t see that coming – not). What church has not seen division. And mind you this nation is, at that time the chosen of God, they are the church.
Israel becomes the northern kingdom under king Jeroboam I. Judah becomes the southern kingdom under King Rehoboam (a son of Solomon). Question is to which of these denominations could claim God? Or better, which one did God still claim? Both of course. God sent prophets to each, to continue to care for them. It did not matter that the kids had moved into separate bedrooms, and often fought like brats. God still saw one family, His family.
It is the unruly kids, humanity, that find reasons to be divided; between parents and one another. We do it to ourselves. Even today, after the chosen children of God has been extended by divine adoption to include us all, we split by class, race, gender, political affiliation, orientation, behaviors and more…. simply to avoid dealing with our differences. It is especially true when they relate to doctrine or leadership. And such truth is difficult for us to own. We don’t even admit it to ourselves.
We walk into the building of choice that we call our church while touting that the building is not the church. In doing so we live in the hypocrisy of our own division. The problem is that we have watered down the choice wine (Is. 1:22) – such being symbolic of God’s blessings. Righteousness has become a routine for Sunday morning.
When Christ began his ministry he turned water into choice wine, symbolic of the restoration of God’s blessing to the world. And while Jesus observed the practices of religious life routinely, his ministry was not centered there. Jesus demonstrated well that church is not the synagogue nor any building. The church is an expression of divinity. It is prayer, it is study and most of all it is how we live out God’s love daily toward one another.
The church is an expression of maternal care. The church is the paternal expression of resolve. The church is a childlike faith in God. The church is how we become again a family with Christ at its head. The church is how the theocracy of God is restored. Don’t go to church, be the church.
First thing you should know, I don’t like writing about myself. That said, I do like learning all about you. Still, you are reading this to know something of me, so here it goes…. I am a Pastor, a father of three, a husband, a son, a brother, an uncle, and a friend. I am also a lifelong learner with two masters degrees, one in Biblical Theology the other a Masters of Divinity. I served in the Indiana Army National Guard for six years, I grew up on a strawberry farm. And today, I enjoy people, goodness and peace.
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