The Family of God
From my reading of Scripture I cannot conceive that God's idea of the Church His Son is building is what the community, calling itself Christian, has actually accomplished, with the diversity of congregations, preaching-places, or just meetings!
Assemblies, or congregations of people calling themselves Christians, have been constituted by techniques of human ingenuity, all claiming to be based on the New Testament, each with its system of doctrine and practice, some in stark contrast to others.
It seems to me that God's idea is the creation of a spiritual family; a Family marked and ordered by love for God, as revealed in Jesus Christ, whose outworking of life will express itself according to what Scripture reveals.
In that Family, a unit, which Peter calls, “ living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.(1 Pet. 2:5)
This Family belongs to God. They are His Family through the functioning of His Holy Spirit, His people!
Every one of them have been indwelt by His Spirit to take up spiritual responsibility, which He has distributed to every one of them (1 Cor.12:7).
As the building material of “living stones” (Pet. above) they are an organic building whose growth is as differing from the organised, externally formulated development which we have come to accept, as chalk is to cheese, the spiritual results of which are as easily measurable .
God, who, after all is the Architect has a blueprint which has ONE Stone from which every other dimension is measured (Eph. 2:20), especially the rest of the foundations, as our verse reveals. The “living stones” which of which the rest of His Family, Church, or people are bonded to the foundation, and to each other, by the love, which first comes from God (1 John 4:19). This mutual love, is not predicated on pet doctrines.
Mutual Family love begins by spiritual birth, which is the placing of an individual spiritual stone, in the one organic entity of God's Family. Mutual Family love DOES NOT come by adherence to a doctrinal code, statement of beliefs, or by joining.
Its intended purpose is not determined by its size or it's statements about what it believes, but by the outworking of spiritual life of love and service to others as a measure of the indwelling of Christ by His Spirit.
There nothing stilted, artificial or formalistic, because God's Family is what any healthy natural family would be in respect of its corporate life as Family.
The spiritual growth of God's Family will be evidenced by the proof of spoken testimony being seen in the way the Holy Spirit works through Family members, in ministering to one another, and the multiplication of itself in the establishment of new families.
This is the way the local expressions of the God's people, His Family, ought to be. This is what God intended for His Family as it gives visible form to Himself and His principles.
This outworking is not induced by external pressures by others, through organization or formulas, but is totally spontaneously produced internally as a fruit of the indwelling Spirit.
It is rather clear that God is allowing a strong sense of unease by many who are involved in traditional organized Christianity which has been substituted for genuine, freedom in the outward expression of life in the Family of God.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the full spiritual capacity given to all who trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, in Colossians 2:6-23 (ESV).
Either these truths have been forgotten or never understood:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands.
Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
It seems to me that Paul's message to the local expression of God's family in Colossae, has morphed into something like this:
So then,just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in your doctrinal distinctives, rooted and built up in those traditions, strengthened by your statements of faith as you were taught, overflowing with loyalty to your leaders.
See to it that no one takes you captive by causing you to check what you are taught as to how it accords with Scripture.
For in your strict accord with your traditions the fulness of Deity lives in bodily form, in which you will find completeness. Your leaders has been accorded power and authority, in whom you were circumcised from your responsibility to think, with a circumcision of a kind. Your whole self has been put off to be ruled by human flesh, in which you are raised from burial in baptism, through your loyalty to leaders.
The last paragraph speaking about the forgiveness of sins is far too liberating, so we pretend it is not there, for convenience sake. Anyway, it takes away the leverage many leaders appear to have in controlling "their" people.