Romans 8:28 (NLT)For the most part of last year, we have been visiting several churches in and around Melbourne city, one at a regional township in Victoria and at least two interstate churches. What strikes me most was the variety of worship and service formats from the churches visited, even among churches within the same church denomination.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
It was also fruitful to meet with and talk to the leaders and "shepherds" who care for their congregation and to be among the people, young and old, who worship God, exercising their faith with others within their congregation and also within their community. God is working in them and through them.
It was an eventful journey. I found some of my personal views, I hold of certain church denominations challenged and it got me thinking.
Have you ever wonder why there are so many church denominations in the Christian faith? You could go to a library and read up on church history and find the historical perspective. You can read the biography of the great men and women of God, who by revelation or calling have brought about a church denomination or a movement.
However, is it how God intended this to be? Was it part of God's plan or was this as a result of man's pride at work?
In seeking the Lord on this matter, the story of Noah's Ark (Genesis 6-9), the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20) and the Parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29) came to mind.
In the story of Noah's Ark, it writes of God's sadness of the extent of the people's wickedness; it broke His heart and of His decision then, to wipe out the human race. (Genesis 6:5-7)
But Noah found favour with the LORD. Having told Noah of His plans, God instructed Noah to build an ark. Genesis 7:1-3 gives an account of who and the various kind of animals and birds that can be brought into the ark, when the day of the flood which will cover even the highest mountains on the earth, comes. (Genesis 7:19)
Noah and his family represents the "shepherds" charged with looking after the many animals and birds in the ark. The animals and birds represent Noah's flock or congregation. It is interesting to note that the name Noah means; "He will bring us relief from the painful labor of farming this ground that the LORD has cursed." (Genesis 5:29 (NLT))
Isn't that an appropriate description of the role of a pastor?
The ark itself represents Jesus Christ which is how God the Father planned to save the world and to reconcile His creation back to Himself. With Jesus as the head of His church and with us, the church under His direction/leading (Ephesians 4:15-16), Jesus will bring about a unity of purpose to carry us, the church, His bride, through the storms and floods that we face in our everyday lives.
Parable of the Sower
The parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20), is often used to shows how well the seed, the Word of God, is received by a person and his response to it. When the seed takes root (Mark 4:8), it bring forth a thirty, sixty and even a hundred times return in that person.
In the light of the above revelation, this person can very well typify the level/amount of revelation received by the various churches, denominations or movements. Hence, the many church denominations.
Photo by Terry Howes
Parable of the Growing Seed
In this parable (Mark 4:26-29), once the farmer sowed the seeds in his field, he goes about doing his many other activities. He does not need to understand the workings of how the seed sprouts and grows from the ground, but when the season is right he will go and harvest his crop.
From the above, I come to understand that the churches, denominations and movements exits to minister the Word of God/Gospel to the world. Like the farmer in the parable, there is no need for me/us to understand how the Word of God/Gospel affects the people who hear the Word but that the Word of God will do His work and produces its fruit. This is as was said of the Word in Isaiah 55:11.
Isaiah 55:11 (NLT)For some of us, this verse may be more familiar and better expressed in the King James Version;
It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
Isaiah 55:11 (KJV)
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.