Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXXVI
He who sits on the throne (Jesus) said, “Behold, I am making all things new,” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:5)
The Jew who had accepted Jesus as his Messiah faced even more radical change and challenges than his traditional brothers who rejected Jesus, because it was also true for him that ”the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Change meant leaving the old, familiar Jewish structures and systems for a new life in Jesus. This was a difficult transition at first, as these new believers were tempted to return to their familiar religious ways by returning to the Temple and synagogues, but persecution and rejection drives them away from the old forms. They realize they no longer need a physical building like the Temple in which to meet because they can meet anywhere, anytime. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God.” (I Corinthians 6:19-20) That is a drastic mindset change, even for Christians today.
Since Christianity was built around Jesus rather than a religious system or building that included animal sacrifices, there was no need for hierarchal leadership since “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’” (Psalm 110:4) Because “Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek, (Hebrews 6:20) You are a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7:17) With Jesus as our High Priest, there is no need for a pyramidal leadership structure; instead leadership can be built on a relationship built on equal peers, priests in a priesthood, unlike Aaron’s or the Levitical priesthood, but one that is eternal. Paul, or any apostle, could come into a town, birth, build, release, and leave a church in six to eighteen months without establishing a hierarchy. That is an incredible mindset to grasp, even for Christians today.
If it was tough for the traditional Jew to face such rapid change, the Jew who accepted Jesus as his Messiah faced even more drastic changes. When something old passes the torch to something new, change is inevitable. Often the Old Guard will oppose it or adjust to it, while the New Guard will openly embrace it.
There is a striking resemblance between the way today’s Christian church functions structurally with his Jewish counterparts at the time of Christ. The church identifies with a building; you go to “church”, a building, on Sundays. The “order of worship” is set in stone; you do “church”. A hierarchal form of leadership above the masses, who have become passive, leads it. The masses are expected to finance the institution. What would happen if this system too would crumble, fall, and face the same fate as its predecessor?
Can peer relationships replace hierarchal structures of leadership?
Could organisms be restored to life rather than just be re-organize?
Instead of readjusting, could the Church accept and embrace newness?
Can the Holy Spirit be allowed to flow freely again in a fluid Church?
Could complacency and passivity be replaced with activity, creating a continuation of the book of Acts?
Can traditions give way to new mindsets?
Can the Church embrace revival rather than oppose or try to control it?
All these require drastic mindset changes.