September 4, 2018
Weekly Reflection – The Domestic Church
The domestic church. How do you see the church? Many people understand the church as a building. It will come as no surprise to students of NationsUniversity that this is not a biblical understanding of the church. As I understand it, the English word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” So the underpinning meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Alternatively, in Romans 16:5, Paul writes, “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers. Is your home a “domestic church?”
In a sense, one could call all the disciples of Jesus his “church.” Jesus asked the twelve in John 6 whether they would leave him like many of the others were doing. Peter responded with the famous words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68). In other words, Peter said, no, we are not leaving. We’re sticking with you! Jesus was the head, and his disciples were a very early form of his body. And one cannot separate the head from the body and expect the entity to live.
And so it is today. The “called-out ones” are the body of Christ, and they must remain attached to the head. We must “stick with” him whether our practical identity is with a large religious organization or a house church or just a core family. We’re not going anywhere; we’re staying connected to the head: there is no other head. Christ is the head of his church, his assembly.
Now, if we are “sticking with Jesus,” we must live as he commanded us to live, loving God and loving one another, beginning with our families, what I call the domestic church. We are called to protect the domestic church from the forces of evil. Protect our families from evil, rage, chronic anger, addictions, access to evil through technology, etc. In the words of Joshua of old, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And that includes a willingness to lay down one’s life for his or her family just as Jesus laid his down for the church.
Some students of NationsUniversity understand this from a very literal perspective as they are exposed daily to the violence of persecution and war. Most of us might more realistically see it as laying down our pride, our opinions, our need to be right, our leisure – for the sake of our families. These sacrifices might be a sign of true love. If we love our wife or husband, we love ourselves as well. And we will be loving as Christ loved the church.
King Louis IX of France wrote a letter to one of his sons some 750 years ago. Perhaps we could all aspire to pass along words like these to our children.
“My dearest son, my first instruction is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength. Without this there is no salvation. Keep yourself, my son, from everything that you know displeases God…
“If the Lord has permitted you to have some trial, bear it willingly and with gratitude, considering that it has happened for your good and that perhaps you well deserved it. If the Lord bestows upon you any kind of prosperity, thank him humbly and see that you become to worse for it, either through vain pride or anything else, because you ought not to oppose God or offend him in the manner of his gifts…
“Be kindhearted to the poor, the unfortunate and the afflicted. Give them as much help and consolation as you can. Thank God for all the benefits he has bestowed upon you, that you may be worthy to receive greater. Be just to your subjects, swaying neither to right or left, but holding the line of justice. Always side with the poor rather than with the rich, until you are certain of the truth…
“In conclusion, dearest son, I give you every blessing that a loving father can give a son…may the Lord give you the grace to do his will so that he may be served and honored through you, that in the next life we may together come to see him, love him and praise him unceasingly. Amen”*
Blessings and peace,
*To read the full letter of King Louis IX to his eldest son, click here.
Read the Chaplain’s reflection on Home Depot Leadership