Perhaps you’ve heard people say there are no denominations in China, just the church; and how wonderful it must be to not have to worry about denominational boundaries and distinctives.
If you’ve spent any time in China, perhaps this causes you to suppress a chuckle. It can be so easy to overstate the reality of situations in China or to unintentionally misrepresent the way things are especially when asked to talk, in five minutes or less, about the church in China. One of the more common misrepresentations concerns whether or not there are denominations in the Chinese church.
Since the time Paul exhorted the Corinthians to stop defining themselves as one who “follows Paul” or “follows Apollos” and to beware of becoming wise in their own eyes, the church has struggled with conflict over secondary issues.
In this article from the Gospel Times we see the response of one Chinese pastor who desires to get his people focused on the “main things” in order that the church might see a greater harvest.
Chongyi Church Pastor: Build a Church without Walls
“In today’s church, each person has a rod of his or her own standards by which he or she measures the faith of others.” Pastor Lu Qiankun of Chongyi Church issued this cautionary word during a recent sermon. “The church needs the protection of proper walls, however it does not need manmade restrictions and wariness.”
Pastor Lu expounded on this caution by drawing an analogy between Zechariah chapters 1 and 2 and situations we see in the church today, encouraging his fellow ministers and Christians to establish a church “without walls.”
Within these verses, the angel of the Lord marks out the length and width of Jerusalem's walls using a measuring rod. But then we see God say to the prophet: “’Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls . . . For I,’ declares the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”
“We can compare this Jerusalem with the church of today," Pastor Lu said, explaining that people generally see the church as fitting within certain boundaries.
Within the church each person has a measuring rod by which he or she measures the spiritual life. He/she uses these standards and criteria, as well as personal tendencies to emphasize or focus on certain aspects of the faith. For example, some emphasize spiritual gifts, while others emphasize denominational forms and traditions . . .
Each person has sat under certain teachings that he or she holds fast to, and so the church faces a myriad of conflict and chaos.
In the large churches, many use their own experience as the standard by which they measure faith and they hold tight to what they received in this respect. They then assume that all should adhere to these standards that are ultimately based on their own experience. This can lead to a sense of superiority, which then creates invisible walls.
Pastor Lu explained that the Jerusalem of God has no need for such measures to set walls, because God himself will be “a wall of fire around her.”
Why will there be no need of a rod to measure Jerusalem?
Because Jerusalem will soon begin to thrive, filled with the rich blessings of God. The city will overflow with people and livestock. However, if walls are built to contain the city, there will be no room for more blessing from God.
God’s grace is so rich that there is no need for man made restrictions or precautions.
Returning to the subject of the church, Lu pointed out that walls are perhaps built by the personal experience of church members. "When faced with inconsistency of belief in certain areas with other brothers and sisters, the ultimate result is conflict and exclusion."
So how we do we avoid the exclusions that can result from these differing “measuring rods?”
Pastor Lu used the issue of “speaking in tongues” as an example. The church has no desire to exclude the gift of tongues, he explained, but in order to care for the weak brothers, the church has decided that during public gatherings the brothers and sisters will refrain from speaking in tongues.
"Where will the breakthrough be in regards to the walls in our church? Within the will of God,” Pastor Lu explained. “If we seek to walk in accordance with the mind and heart of God, that is when we will see a greater harvest of men and women entering into the blessing of the Good News.”
Original article: 崇一堂牧者：建立无墙教会 (Gospel Times)
Image credit: jesus.ch.
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