It’s easy to see what should be the form of the church, what should be its ministries, its worship, its lifestyle, from reading the gospels, the acts, and the epistles. Yet, we somehow always drift away from that which spiritual logic indicates and into the paths of our own devices.
In the first generation, we know that the holy apostles were set aside by You and they themselves accepted this, that they should have a ministry based on what was given to them, and that is what they lived for. Their daily needs were taken care of in whatever way each day afforded, whether some of them did manual work for their living as well as preaching, or when the Spirit had them preach or minister so totally that the church, that is, the people to whom they ministered, helped them out with their daily bread and a place to sleep. The same was true of all those whom the Spirit touched: they lived for You and the spreading of Your gospel, for the making of disciples of all nations. They had no private lives or needs, for what could be private to them who had given up everything to follow You?
And so it was through the ages and so it is today.
The apostolic life can no more change than You can.
The lifestyle of the flock, the members of the church, also flows logically from the gospels, the acts, and the epistles. If we stayed in the scriptures, our lives and lifestyles would flow out of and be formed by the same spiritual logic. We would all minister to one another from our abilities according to each other’s needs.
The form of the church outwardly in various ages has wavered between what is formed by the spiritual logic of the scriptures, and what we want to make of them to fit our own imagined needs, which are really wants.
In most of our history, those who were called or set apart to minister, still supported themselves by the work of their hands, to the extent of their real needs. Married priests had to farm, or do crafts, or teach, to earn their earthly keep and support their families. To the extent that they put themselves out to do the church services they were recompensed out of what their flock had and were willing to offer. Themselves, even when married, remained in actual fact not just in name, servants of the people of God, without private lives or privileges. Only those who gave themselves over completely to the needs of the church, and whose work really took up all their time, were supported out of common funds, and that only according to their needs, not their wants.
But how quickly and easily these ways were corrupted, both in West and East. And at the present day, the ways of the church have so far drifted into the ways of man and so distant from Your ways, Lord, that we cannot even recognize, in the light of the logic of your Word, anything of the true in what we see in the church. We have drifted so far, that to even speak as I am now, is considered foolishness or even heresy. But You, Lord, know what You gave us, what Your holy apostles handed over to us, and what we have done with it.
Grant us, Lord, mercy in these last days, and let Your servants find the way of life that You have clearly revealed in Your holy scriptures, and deliver us from ourselves and our selfish plight. In the time that is left to us, help us to live as You live, so we will be ready to meet You without fear at Your second and glorious coming.
Come, Lord Jesus.