LEARNING FROM AN EXAMPLE

Sheryl Allen

I had the radio tuned to a local religious radio station as I worked around the house, occasionally listening to the noon talk show. A man who provided Bibles and other literature to Christians in iron curtain countries was being interviewed. Suddenly, something he said caught my attention.

He began to speak about the Christians (called Believers) in a small iron curtain country where the Bible had not been translated into their language, and how difficult it was to get materials to them. Then, he began to describe their terribly difficult situation. These poor people had to meet secretly in homes because they could not go public with their belief in Jesus Christ. He referred to these individual groups as "cells" and said they had almost no contact with other cells in the country. He went on to say how awful the conditions were and though each cell seemed to have a leader, they might never have the wonderful opportunity to organize into one large institution with someone to lead them in worshipping God more acceptably in a proper "church building". As he talked, the negative implication that the cells were like jail cells came across clearly.

Later it occurred to me that his explanation when viewed positively was scripturally accurate; individual cells are important, they multiply and form a body that is continually growing. And, they are organized under one leader, the Master Himself, Jesus Christ.

These believers are meeting just like the first century believers and under very similar circumstances. Can you imagine the apostle Paul telling the early saints to build a special building for a meeting place? Or even suggesting they form one large organization with a paid leader to help them serve God properly? They were united spiritually and their lives were a daily worship to God, not once a week at a "formal worship service" in a church building. When they were able to meet, it was to encourage one another in love.

Perhaps the Christians in this small country have a great deal more to be thankful for than they realize they have not been exposed to the institutional churches organized by men. They are free to worship God in the simple way He desires all to serve Him from the heart, not with traditional rituals from men.