Written by: Stephen Crosby
There is no inherent spiritual significance to moving a meeting out of a sanctuary into a living room. The question to be asked is not related to how we meet (form), but how we live life together in Christ (substance) and the values we embrace. Whenever love wanes, efficiently administered corporation ethics subtly and subversively displace family (kingdom) values.
The only way a family grows is by giving itself away. A family remains a family by giving away life. A family is bonded in covenantal love, but love lets children grow, and through tears of love, releases them to “increase” the family by “scattering.” In a sense, the individual family decreases, the greater family increases. A family cannot experience increase by clinging to what it has.
Children grow up, leave, most often marry, and new life is often the result. The gene pool is diversified for the overall health and well-being of the greater family. A family that never releases its members–a family that never allows the introduction of diverse DNA into the family–will soon cease to be a family, or become a pocket of isolated genetic defectives. A family that is obsessed about the purity of its own image, is headed for trouble. Introduction of diversity, is key to genetic health. You have to be willing to allow one’s own image to seem to be lost, to see it again in modified reflections (family resemblance) of one’s self in new life, that you have no direct control over. Seed must be sown to reproduce. We are the seed, not our money. We are sown in death, raised in newness of life, to bear a family image and likeness.
On the other hand, a corporation sustains itself by insulating its assets from risk. It has no life to give away. Because a corporation does not have life and does not operate on love, it requires structure, order, and rules to maintain its identity. When love is absent or diminished, systems become a necessity to maintain group order and to perpetuate the group. A corporation grows/survives by protecting itself, assuring that it experiences no decrease. A corporation grows through accumulation of resources, not the scattering of them. A corporation can only experience increase by clinging to what it has, and trying to acquire more.
The kingdom of God is a family, not a corporation. If we gather in a living room with a corporate mindset, Jesus’ kingdom will have experienced no increase. We will delude ourselves into thinking we are involved in something spiritually significant simply because of our spatial geography at the moment.
Jesus’ family grows by scattering–the giving away of resources because we are animated by the power of love, and love’s compulsion is to scatter. Love compels us to release resources: time, money, people, gifts. We gather to love, nurture, and disciple for the sole purpose of seeing the greater family increase through the scattering/release of resources, not the maintenance of our singular group, through the accumulation of resources and the aggrandizement of individual egos and reputations.
It makes no difference if we gather in a living room or a sanctuary if the values of “asset protection,” the perpetuation of pet doctrines, gift addictions, the ego need of teachers/preachers for a weekly audience, and a misdirected sense of purity are present, we will become nothing other than an isolated pocket of spiritual defectives.
A greater change has to take place than the location of our posteriors during a meeting. A deep purging and realignment of our values must take place, lest we fool ourselves by just running a “mom and pop” religious shop instead of a Fortune 500 version of the same religious machine.