“IF

YOU BUILD IT,

HE

WILL COME

(BUT

ONLY TO VISIT)”

By WAYNE O'CONNER

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“IF YOU BUILD IT, HE WILL COME (BUT ONLY TO VISIT)”
Hi everyone! (at House Church Internet Club) I was thinking this weekend, rather than teasing our (What’s that “S “ word Brad?) moderator Pam, about stealing my thunder, I should share my teaching on house church. Do any of you remember the actor Kevin Costner? He stars in a movie where he keeps hearing this invisible, disembodied voice whispering, “If y ou b uil d it , t hey wil l c ome .” In house church circles we often think, perhaps based on the whimsy of this movie, “If we build it, He will come!” I would like to share with you the truth of the matter. When it comes to house churches, (or traditional churches) if you build it, He won’t come! To stay anyway. Although, He will drop by, for a quick visit, now and then. And if you really have a heart for Him and a relationship with Him, He may linger even a bit longer, but eventually, because of His Holiness and His mercy, “If you build it, He will go.” Or you may stick with the original script and say, “If you build it, they will come.” His people may come. Religious people may come. Or a mixed batch that unifies as well as water and oil. Or more people, like yourself, or myself, who have a heart for God and are trying to build a house church, the best we can, with man-made (read that soulish or fleshly) materials and misguided, well-intended misperceptions. They may come, but He will only visit. Now I am not saying wait until you have everything perfect before you start doing something for God. If your heart is in it, “little is much when God is in it.” Many times as we build something and God lets it fall or personally tears it down, He’s in the process of teaching us and peeling back, little by little, layer

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by layer, over time, the onionskins of our faulty character and spiritual ignorance. Jesus said, “I will build my church,” in Matthew 16:18. Jesus also said that we are living stones. Love and serve God first, with all of your heart and soul and body, and then, as a by-product of that relationship with Jesus, love and serve your brothers and sisters. In John 16:13, Jesus says that He will send the Holy Spirit. Jesus goes on to say that the Holy Spirit will teach us. And He still teaches us today, if we let Him. And we see later in Acts that Jesus kept His promise. Not only did God add greatly, on a daily basis, but we also see a history of miracles and great events! Yes, Jesus had willing and sensitive followers, who lived and loved actively, for the Kingdom, but it was really Jesus who orchestrated everything. His power flowed around and through His people. But He was the head and the source and the substance of that power! (Or the Go dhea d, to be more accurate, but you know what I mean.) So if there is a secret I can give you, it is this: You and I, really can’t do anything, but do our best, to love Jesus and our brothers and sisters, with all we’ve got, and in the midst of this, let Jesus build His church. Many times we try to build the church. Sometimes our heart is right. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes we are just building our own personal kingdom, where we can gather subjects to be ruled, or find a great kahuna (mighty religious ruler; Hawaiian/Polynesian word) to lead us - instead of Jesus. If we build our house church, rather than Jesus, especially if our hearts are right, He will come, but He will only visit. To the extent that He hasn’t built us up and prepared us to function in His church, we cannot stand long, in the Holy Fire of His Presence. I’m not saying He won’t spend a great deal of time working with us. I am saying that He won’t spend a great deal of close communing time with us. And it’s not so much because of His holiness, but because of His great mercy. To the extent that we, as a local ecclesia, are not prepared and built in Him, He won’t use us as fully and powerfully, or as often, as we’d like. He’ll still use us.
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He can use a little child or even a donkey! To the extent that we have not, individually or corporately, allowed Him to prepare our vessels, He will not use us as often, or as powerfully. I like palm trees and tropical flowers. Where I live in Wisconsin such plants don’t do well. It must be the winters, LOL (laugh out loud)! There are people who can craft imitation palm trees or tropical flowers. Now if I go buy a cheap one. Let’s say a palm tree. You’ll take one look at it and say, “Wayne! It’s a fake and you know it!” Let’s say I purchase a better model. My new palm tree looks so real, that when the neighbor’s parrot flies out of its cage, out of the house, onto my deck, and onto my palm tree, it thinks it’s back on the tropical island, where it was hatched! If it fools the parrot, maybe it will even fool you, for a few moments, or for a longer period of time. What I’m getting at is this. There’s a lot of hullabaloo going around about the New Testament pattern. There have been many books written. They may be scholarly. God may use them. They probably provide useful insight – God given insight. However, whether we are a crude palm tree maker or an internationally acclaimed replica palm tree designer, who fools parrots, no matter what we build, it is and will always be, a replica! The real palm tree is real, because God originally designed it, and gave it life and empowered it to reproduce. No matter how well we have thought out the design for our house church, even taking the pattern from scripture, or seeing first hand, a “successful” house church: (authentic or simulated) it i s m er ely a r epl ic a. No matter how talented the organizers that we bring together, to build our house church, or how well we provision it, it is just a well-intentioned replica. If we a want a true house church, Jesus has to be the One who builds it. If He doesn’t build it and empower it, with His very essence, then no matter how beautiful it looks or how structurally sound we judge it to be, it will only be a façade. An empty shell. A pale imitation of reality. If our hearts are right and we are doing the best we can do, He will visit us, but He will not stay. Jesus is much too busy preparing the living stones that comprise His Church and building them together into a dynamic, living, breathing organism. An
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organism composed of many organisms, you and I, who love Him and each other. When I say love and service, I’m not talking about the pale, shallow, selfcentered and conditional love, and lip service (horizontal and vertical) of worldly “Christian” religion, but the genuine agape, Jesus- imprinted, and Jesus – breathed, love and service, that only He can create in us – usually through much suffering, trial and self-denial. Jesus is much too busy, working with those people who love Him, and I mean really love Him. So much, that they are willing to deny themselves and their personal kingdoms and their personal wish lists. We must submit to Jesus as He prepares us spiritually, and conforms us to into His image. No matter what the cost or how long it takes. This is a progressive and intricate work. The more we as individuals submit to that training, and part of that training is allowing the Lord to hone our spiritual sensitivity, the more spiritually sensitive and more Christ-like we become. The more often that we rationalize away His guidance, or directly disobey, the more likely that our sensitivity will decrease, rather than increase. The more spiritually sensitive we become, the more accurate our perception of what the Holy Spirit is teaching us, will be. The deeper our relationship with Jesus, and the more conformed we become to His Image, the more likely that when we come together, corporately, the more probable it will be that the Holy Spirit will manifest, more powerfully, and for greater periods of duration. Tozer says that when Christ is exalted and glorified, the Spirit comes. I think that when some people read this quote they feel that it means, “If we praise Jesus, the Holy Spirit will come.” While that’s true, genuine exaltation and glorification of Christ is much more complex than that, and the deeper that exaltation and glorification of Christ, in our lives, the more likely that the Holy Spirit will manifest in our meetings. What I am saying is that Christ needs to be more than praised if we truly want to see the God Head manifest in our lives, and our house church meetings, for
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extended periods of time. I believe that Christ being exalted and glorified, in His fullness, is really a matter of exalting and glorifying Christ in all areas of our life. In John 3:30-31, John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” To the extent that individually, we become more Christ than ourselves, and we gather corporately, the greater the probability, that fuller manifestations or visitations will occur. To the extent that we do not truly love Jesus, or fully submit to His Lordship, and gain accurate sensitivity to the Holy Spirit teaching us, or if we try to control, the Father, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or our brothers and sisters, we quench the Spirit and negate the fuller visitations and manifestations. Or we began following false manifestations. To the extent that we allow the Godhead to build Their church and submit to Their preparation and Their sovereignty, the Church will form in us and around us. So in reality it is not, “If you build it, they will come,” or “If you build it, He will come.” If THEY build it, we will come! Once again, you and I, really can’t do anything, but do our best, to love Jesus and our brothers and sisters, with all we’ve got, and in the midst of this, LET JESUS BUILD HIS CHURCH.

HCS9/18/07 “If you build it, He will come (but only to visit)” Part 2 Hi all, I wanted to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my heart concerning house churches. What I shared in the “If you build it, He will come (but only to visit)” paper, has ruffled feathers, to various degrees, where I’ve shared it before. Even though correction may come in the future, as the Lord may tweak my human efforts, I do stand by it, and apologize for any I may have offended, but really feel that Jesus was with me in the sharing. One thing I did want to clarify is that while the first several paragraphs and the palm tree/replica information was in fairly fleshed out note form, most of the paper was written this weekend. Over the last four or five years I have shared that smaller, noted body of information in quick five minute sound bites, from
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time to time, with individuals, or small groups, if I remembered it and the conversation provided a forum. Much of what I added to the paper this weekend (except the Tozer paraphrase – a good friend shared that with me recently and it seemed very fitting) has also been shared verbally, as time allowed, but until given incentive last week to put alpha-numeric keystrokes to my thoughts, most of the material was just rattling around in my brain, not really settling in cohesive form. So my thanks to all of you, especially Pam, for allowing me to share what the Lord has been stirring in my heart. Like the proverbial coin has two sides (and actually four if you want to get technical – top, bottom, side and inside) the house church replica idea also has a positive application. In my paper I really focused on the down side, but for those of you who had time to read it, you may have seen my hints at this positive aspect or came up with it on your own. Anyway my point: God is well aware of our natural human tendency to build house churches, for Him, rather than let Him do it, knowing that we will expect Him or others to come. Especially if our hearts are in the right place, He meets us where we are. Like astronauts and jet fighters often log on hundreds, or even thousands of hours, on simulation machines, prior to training with multi-million dollar government toys, the Lord often makes efficient use of our replica house churches, before allowing them to implode or settle into complacency. Not that He can’t shut them down when He wants. I have seen Him do it more than once, especially with the dangerous, controlling, religious kinds that have a form of godliness, but deny God, and perform atrocious sheep mayhem. But at other times, such gatherings may be allowed to waste their own strength, to keep the show on the road, as the Lord totally, or almost totally, withdraws His blessing and presence. Over the years I have noticed that many house church aficionados will eagerly point fingers at the traditional church because they have a natural tendency to see pastors, pulpits, church buildings, pews, sermons, classes, and steeples as church. We tend to forget that we, as home gathering buffs, can just as easily see elders x, y and z, couches and folding chairs, living rooms, and coffee with snacks, or the Sunday pot-blessing buffet, or even prayer meetings, Bible
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studies and teaching/sharing dialogues, as church. All of these items are important to a home fellowship, some more than others, but they are not the Church. We are the Church. We are the living stones that Jesus, our master builder, is putting together. And now that you all think that I suffer from Jeckel and Hyde syndrome, I want to get to the main point of the exercise in the whole of “If you build it, He will come (only to visit) ” paper. Really, how can house church people not form a house church? The whole point is that I wanted you to see that the real House Church, is just as virtual as the medium we are using to meet together on the Internet for HCS. Because it – the real Church - is a spiritual building! Now that I have let you all off the hook, you’ve been wriggling on, as I have pointed out that reality, I hope it makes sense to you. (In a way that I hope you can really latch onto.) That said I want to share with you the rea l s ecret . Look beyond the form of what we do when we say we are doing house church. And then remember, you and I really can’t do anything, but do our best, to love Jesus and our brothers and sisters, with all we’ve got, and in the midst of this, LET JESUS BUILD HIS CHURCH. That said, house church replicas, or house churches, small h, small c, are not the real House Church, capital H, capital C, which is merely a segment of His Body. I want to encourage you to gather together whenever possible, and not worry too much, if your house church is a crude replica or a well-designed replica. Especially if your heart is in it, if you could see with the eyes of the Spirit beyond that façade, Jesus is working. He is building His church. To the extent that our free will gets in the way, and we do not, for whatever reason, submit to His Lordship and preparation that may be a hindrance. I must add though, even while Jesus is loving and patient beyond measure, with us, there is a point, where He will back off, and let us do it, our way, if we persist in doing it, our way. More specifically, I encourage you all to work together in this virtual fellowship, whether it is to exchange e-letters, or actually attempt live house church meetings for the group. Normally I don’t like chat rooms, but a live, virtual meeting, albeit a bit awkward in some ways, could prove to be a great
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fellowship enhancement and training tool, for the Lord’s purposes. I also encourage you to love and support one another. Even if that virtual house church ends up looking like a “a small folding a-frame garage sale sign…made out of wood…with carpeting nailed on it,” and modified into a place to meet, when you all finish your junior carpenter project, I encourage you to look at each others hearts, as Jesus looks at ours, and help , pray, and bless one another. My guess is that it’s going to be closer to the designer Palm tree, that fools parrots, than the crude Palm tree that looks fake, but either way, I very much feel that Jesus is behind you and will bless your efforts, while continuing to help us, and other groups like us, (whether at HCS or in other fellowships) prepare to be set in place - in His Church. Love in Jesus, Wayne (2007)

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