Many of us live in highly organized business/industrial societies. Many churches in such societies have not escaped the influence of corporate organization. How one functions as an employer/employee in the business/industrial world, often determines how he views the church of our Lord. When the entire membership lives in such a society, it is almost natural for them to behave corporately. The extreme of this invasion of worldly organizationalism among the disciples of Jesus is the conclusion that if one is not a part of the “corporately organized religion,” then he is outside the religious “church loop,” or simply a rebel from within.
We must not assume that the stifling efforts of organized religion is something new. The same religious environment prevailed during the era when the Son of God become flesh in order to reveal an organic movement of people outside the function of organized religion. Jesus did not come to establish an institution. He came to empower individuals in their faith. His focus was on people (church), not organizational structures. He thus came to energize an organism of believers to function throughout the world.
When Jesus came in the fullness of time to begin an organic body (His church) in the midst of a very structured religious organization (Judaism), from the very beginning His ministry was in constant conflict with the authorities of the religious establishment (See Matthew 16:18,19). The establishment called His movement a “sect” simply because His disciples did not conform to the norm that defined the existing religious organization of the day (See Acts 24:5). The books of Matthew through John explain in detail the conflict between the Jewish religious leaders and Jesus as He initiated the organic function of His disciples. The book of Acts not only explains the organic function of His body of believers, but also the conflict that the Jewish religious leadership continued to have with what they considered a virus in their organized religion. Organized religion always considers organic function an infectious virus simply because those who function organically are not controlled by the earthly authorities of the organization.
Organized religion is defined by the existence of rulers and lords on earth. In order to prevent His organism from becoming an organization, Jesus said that there would be no rulers and lords among His disciples. The function of the disciples would be as an organic body of servants (See Mark 10:42,43). An organization (institution) exists because there is a chain of authority on earth by men who seek to maintain the structure of an organization. There is thus pressure from these “powers that be” that everyone who claims to be a part of the organization must conform to their authority structures. Membership in the organization is required, and some sort of attendance to the meetings of the organization are required in order to be considered loyal (faithful) to “the powers that be.” Budgets and spreadsheets are necessary in order to disburse the income that comes into the common “treasury” of the organization. In order that the leadership of the organized religion is perpetuated, diplomas and degrees that hang on the leaders’ office walls, which diplomas and degrees were earned at the accepted Bible training schools of the organization. A specific name is used by the organization in order that members easily identify the groups who are in fellowship with the organization worldwide.
Inherent in any organized religion (institution) is a spirit of sectarianism, for each organized group of a worldwide network of groups must in some way maintain their identity as unique from all other religious organizations. Since competition for members is inherent in sectarianism, a unique name for the religious organization is thus necessary in order to identify the particular organization to which members give allegiance. The validation of one’s relationship with Jesus is thus defined by one’s faithful allegiance to the religious organization of which he professes membership. It is thus incumbent on the accepted leaders of the institutional church to preserve the identity of their church by teaching the mandates of the organization that identifies its uniqueness. It is for this reason, that the preachers of the organized church are sanctioned with either “pastoral licenses,” diplomas or degrees from the accepted Bible schools of the religious organizations to which each particular group gives allegiance. Members are subsequently subjected to the sanctioned leaders by referring to them as “pastor,” “reverend,” “bishop,” etc. Authority is relinquished to the leadership by the membership, and by doing such the members have established a head of each local church, or the universal church, depending on how worldwide the organized church seeks to be networked according to Catholic Church organization of hierarchies.
In one statement of Holy Scripture the organized church is deemed contrary to the organic function of the universal membership of the body of Christ.
“. . . from whom [Christ] the whole body being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working of each part, causes growth of the body to the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).
The words “every” and “each” assign individual ownership of the members of the body to one another. There can be no “eyes” or “feet” functioning separately or in control of the universal body. “If the foot says, ‘Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body . . .,’” then how would the whole body function as one body (1 Corinthians 12:15)? We must remember that “God has set the members, each one of them in the body, just as He has desired” (1 Corinthians 12:18). No man or group of men have the authority to set any part of the body above any other part of the body. The function of the body, therefore, is the business of Jesus as He directs the body from heaven through the authority of His word on earth (John 12:48; Romans 10:17). Therefore, there need be no rulers and lords on earth to command the organic function of the body. Upon the foundation of love, each part of the body is energized to function equally and in unity with all parts of the body (See John 13:34,35). No authorities on earth are needed.
Biblical Research Library
Book 47: Fellowship and Unity of the Organic Body
Book 55: Organic Function of the Body of Christ