Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Not forsaking the Assembly... WASSAT?

So here I am in my living room, typing an article with a keyboard that is missing the letters ‘G’ and ‘H’, really understanding the words of the song, Big Yellow Taxi – “…you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” – but determined, nonetheless, to write an article. It’s been far too long and waiting forever to find a replacement laptop keyboard for rather rare laptop, an Advent 7208 is beginning to grate on my nerves. So here I am, writing and using and on-screen keyboard to augment what’s left of my keys. Well, considering writing in the past, was done employing regular ink-dips, I have to be grateful for the magic of technology and touch typing.

I am still basking in the afterglow of a meeting with a few friends of mine. A friend had put up a notice on Facebook that there was going to be a prayer meeting. (I know; I rolled my eyes too!). Many people tend to find these very boring and a chore, and for very valid reasons. Some prayer points are sometimes outlandish, unscriptural and sometimes, out rightly unintelligent. I was once “privileged” to be at a prayer meeting where we were told to pray against evil tortoises eating our progress.

Poor Ninja turtles…

Well, if I could, I would have loved to bring out a book on Zoology, and told the guy leading the prayers to pray against every unicellular and multi-cellular animal in the book!

And the truth is, for many prayer meetings that are not strange, they are sometimes totally boring. Perhaps, that’s why people like night vigils. If the numbers of attendees are just right, you can fall in meekness at the back of the room, striking the prayerful pose of one wrapped up with carrying the sins of the world – and sleep off. A friend of mine has an uncanny skill. She can sleep with her eyes open. Now, that is X-Men material.

Now, my friend even added, “Come fasting”. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm???

Luckily for me, many times, eating is like a chore. Give me a drink ANYTIME.

So I told him I was not coming. I tend to enjoy carrying out spiritual exercises on my own, anyway.

But somehow, I ended up going and ended up fasting.

The meeting that followed can best be described as chaotic. It was rowdy, it was loud, it was unscripted.

It was real fellowship.

And when we prayed, I don’t think I have prayed like that for such a long time, because I was well aware that I was with brothers, in the real sense of the word, we were of one mind, NOT one perspective on all issues, and we wanted to please the God. There was a vertical and horizontal connection. In my atheist days, I would read this and had a good “lol” moment. But an earth-bound point of view is simply at loss where things spiritual play out.


As many know, or deduce, I do not ‘belong ’ to any denomination, neither do I promote any. I ONLY promote a personal search for God. When you decide to start out, how He takes you on that journey is up to Him – and you.
At some point in my search for God and meaning, I came to a cross road. I sensed a leading on my inside that aligned with scripture, though it was an unpopular route. Simply put, I could search for God via the lenses of a structure, or search for God via the lenses of the personal call I felt.
It’s at this point many miss it with blanket ideology. Each person on this journey must find his way and path in God.

There is no superior path.

But the KEY guide that will safeguard the seeker is NOT his heart. Why?
Simple. The heart is too deceitful a compass.
The voice inside the seeker will show him how to go, and though, depending on the individual’s own path, the walk may appear strange, it will NOT contravene scriptural PRINCIPLES… note, I do not say stories or examples, but PRINCIPLES.

So when we talk about fellowship, which is a core PRINCIPLE, many mouth scripture about not forsaking assembly. As denomination (which is what many call ‘church’) is soldered into our skulls, we find it hard to see things outside the framework of a structured religious setting. So the assembly most think about is a ‘church’ service. Now, the truth is, while a denomination might provide the CURRENT framework to stimulate fellowship, fellowship does NOT need the denomination/ church system to occur effectively. At this point, words fail me to explain this concept indepth, but I will use a short illustration to try to clarify what I mean – and I will use a very important scenario.

If you are a regular reader of my notes, you know by now I am of the school of thought that the tribulation occurs AFTER the rapture. You can look up my analysis of this view on my blog. The SEQUENCE of things is NOT a core Christian DOCTRINE, but we know these events will occur. So here is my scenario-planning based story.

It’s 2013, a year after the Olympics disaster, when key sites of the International event experienced mass suicide bombings. The world doesn’t end in 2012 but nations have become paranoid over security, and as each one has been affected in some way by the disaster, stronger socio-political alliances are formed. America, Britain, China and Germany form a ‘necessary’ alliance with other key nations of the world that are mutually sympathetic – and just as 9/11 allowed for the passing of a bill that overrides human rights of an individual if considered to be a terrorist, so do new INTERNATIONAL laws mean that a new definition is given to “Religious intolerance”.

Under these new laws, to safeguard the “common good of Citizens of the World, each religious body must conform to Government prescribed rules and unified ordinances, and must ACCEPT all major laws and bi-laws irrespective of personal convictions, sentiments or opinion. Under the new laws, the ruling Global state/government will determine what is right and wrong, and by extension, what SIN is, for ALL classes of religious groups. It will be a punishable crime to come up with ‘sectarian’ views as to what each religion allows or does not allow, and though this may go against the personal views of individuals, this new Ecumenism of complete state-controlled religious oneness will be for the good of all.”

I have not read this anywhere. I’m just churning it up as it comes, but if we examine the scenario, it implications are that, what is a normal mode of worship for any religion RECOGNIZED by the state/Government will have to conform to what is allowed under every religious umbrella. In other words, if the Government says, abortion or homosexuality is wrong or right, it will be a punishable offence to disagree, irrespective of your religious beliefs.

So tell me, how are denominations to respond if the Government deems right something the scripture sees as wrong. For example, it becomes a religious law that “being a Citizen of the World” means you are ENCOURAGED to have multiple and exchangeable sexual partners, within and outside marriage, in order to achieve optimum population, and the offspring will be catered for by Government funding. After a few opposing clerics are publicly executed, it becomes clear that the state means business about this new religious injunction.

Ask yourself, how will denominations react?
It’s not rocket science.

Some will ALIGN with the Government, quoting “give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s”, “honour those in authority” and “giving honour to whom it is due”. In that way, these denomination will be preserved.

Some will defy the Government, losing their lives in the process – and many of these would most likely be sold out by their ‘brethren’, who would most likely take over these Government-backed institutions, like during the Inquisition.

Some will live in denial and say “it’s not their portion” till staring into a gun’s nozzle brings clarity about their need to make a choice – and then the true state of their hearts will be revealed.

Some will try to go into hiding and be hunted down.

So John, you say, what’s your point exactly?

My point is, if you cannot meet in your denomination’s building or parish due to circumstances outside your control, would the scripture about ‘not forsaking the assembly’ still apply because you cannot meet in a church building anymore?