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"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16
After a meeting with my dear brethrens last wednesday evening, and as I reflect on the way Paul deals with the churches planted with his co-workers, it became apparent to me what a painstaking principle Paul took in his attempt to bring the churches to maturity in Christ.

I mean to say that it is often tempting or the fleshly tendency in us to always want to be in control (out of good intention) by organizing things the way we wanted it to be. The extreme being coming up with a foolproof system or liturgy and start placing people to where we think they should be, otherwise inviting people to where they think they should be. And that results in institutionalism, where it often quenches the Spirit than not. Neither I am saying that disorder is to be desired, but there's a world of difference between orderly and institutionalized meeting, if you get what I meant.

Nowhere in the New Testament did it ever mention that Paul used his authority as an Apostle, to organize the churches into rigid structures for effective and efficient church administration, lest the mention of forming mega churches and the hypes. In fact, Paul doesn't even bother about instructing the believers to build a church building, than stressing the truth that the believers are now God's holy temples (and mind you, they are mobile!). Some may disagree by mentioning that it's an inevitable and godly progression or development for the church to be institutionalized, especially after the early few centuries, but it will suffice for now to point out that the Scripture is wholly sufficient to instruct us in all matters relating to faith in Jesus Christ, including church practices on meetings. To be certain, to argue for the case of institutionalism is extra-biblical.

So we see that Paul resists or at least does not propose any institutionalized means of church order as the long term solution for the purpose of maturity of the churches. Though he did propose a couple of solutions within a specific context, when the believers forgot what's the purpose of the meeting which is the coming together of God's people, and start behaving like those who never know God. All he did was to remind the believers in love, again and again of their position in Christ Jesus and how they ought to behave and act as a responsible citizen of the heavenly kingdom, and of God's children. It's through unfailing love, perseverance and patience that the great Apostle attempts to realign the focus of the believers. In a nutshell, Paul is essentially saying, "Look up to God, seek Him and please Him in all that you do. Remember you are a priest of the most high God, so start functioning like one, carry your cross and take care of those around you, especially the brethrens."

There is nothing inherent that is of the institutionalized nature in the Gospel as some might suggest. It's simply about a beautiful loving relationship between a spiritual God and a group of spiritual people freely expressing themselves in Christ. And the cure for unspirituality is not by institutionalizing things or even organizing things better, but by the power of the Gospel, through the Holy Spirit.

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