Growing up in a Chicago suburb, our family occasionally made trips “downtown” for special events or even a ballgame. It was always an exciting thing to do since we didn’t go into the city very often. On one trip, we went to a place called “Maxwell Street.” For those who may not know about it, Maxwell Street was like a giant flee market…on the street! As a kid living in the 60s it was pretty unique. Hundreds of people walked the street looking for that “special deal” along city blocks lined with vendors wanting to accommodate them. You could find just about anything for sale: clothes, shoes, belts, electronics, radios, fruits, vegetables, housewares, car parts, tires, sporting goods, toys, jewelry, and oh yeah…watches!
Now there’s one important thing to know about Maxwell Street. Not all the dealers were what you would call “reputable.” Especially those walking around selling watches. “Wanna buy a watch? This is the real deal!” Warning! Buyer beware! As they say, “Talk is cheap.” Just because the seller says it’s genuine, doesn’t mean it is. And something can even look authentic, but unless you know the real from the fake you could end up with an imitation. To know if something is genuine, you have to know what the genuine IS. Right?
When it comes to church I wonder how many people know what a genuine church really looks like? Many would say they have a building to go to, they hold a weekly service, programmed activities are available for the members, and a professional minister leads and serves the congregation. Isn’t that what a church is suppose to look like? Well, to begin with, if most Christians say they follow what the Bible teaches for faith and practice, then where are the instructions for those things? Truth be told, churches today are very different from the church in the first century. It’s like comparing a digital clock with a sun dial. Something has obviously changed.
So what happened? Well, to put it simply, man started following his own ways, instead of God’s. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). History records the progress of Christianity over the centuries. Unfortunately much of this “progress,” as people may call it, came as a result of men following the ways of someone other than the Lord. Over time churches adopted unbiblical practices and traditions of men, and have become a rather poor imitation of the real thing. Some may say, “Well, you can’t fight progress. And besides, what they’re doing appears to be working.” Yes, but even a stopped watch is right two times a day!
So, again, let me say “Buyer beware!” Remember, something can appear authentic, and someone can say it’s real (and even have a sign to “prove” it), but that doesn’t make it genuine. Thankfully, the Lord has promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The real church IS still out there, and if you’re looking for it, as seen in the pages of the New Testament, I’m confident God, in His faithfulness, will connect you to the true church of Jesus Christ of which He is the Head.
“And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.” – Eph 1:20-23
“May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven.” – Colossians 1:11-20