“Have you ever considered the gathering of Jesus-followers as fundamentally a setting where Jesus opens His home to us? Have you thought about our gathering as a manifestation of His hospitality to us? Jesus extends hospitality to us by giving us a free space, an open space in which He flows through each part by the Spirit.”
~ Jon Zens, Jesus is Family
I was discussing this with a group a few weeks ago, and I thought of the quote above like this:
Imagine someone decides that they want to invite their family, friends and neighbors over for a party at their house. They have taken care of everything and just want everyone to come in and enjoy themselves. There are a few things they may want to happen, but overall there no specific agenda. They want to let the evening unfold as it needs to.
But as people show up, they come in and move the furniture around, bring in their own food, and establish their own agenda for the gathering. And they do this without asking the host what they really want. They take over something that wasn’t theirs’ to plan. Some may even be proud that it was done “their way”.
Sure, the hosts are still happy that people are together, but it’s not what they had in mind. At best, it is similar, but yet different. At worst, it turns into a divisive rally that excludes certain people.
I really believe this is largely what has happened to the church in the last 1500 years or so. Some Christians have set out to decide for Jesus what He wants. I’ve been around plenty of conversations about preparing a worship environment/experience that is suitable for Jesus - as if we need to make Him comfortable so He will show up.
Perhaps it is the other way around - He desires to prepare a safe, free, open environment where we can know Him, where He can express Himself through everyone. He’s the Host of the gathering. He’s setting the direction, not us. If we honestly evaluate what it means to follow Jesus from His perspective, I think we find that institutionalized Christianity (whether in a big building or a home) misses the mark by a mile.