By Paul G Collier
Today, I want to talk to you about some of the functions of a Upadarian household. The first is the principle of a teaching household, the second is how the household serves the whole body of Christ. To do this, I want to begin with a fictional account of what households look like that don’t follow these two principles:
1. We are a teaching household that spreads the power of the Word by allowing visitors to witness the glory of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives
2. We serve the whole body of Christ. We do not abandon the weak parts of the body, but rather give that part of the body extra care
Once upon a time in a land not unlike our own, there lived a small community of households within a very sad town. The town was sad because it had little hope and even less opportunity.
There were 12 Christ-led household dotted across the town. Each household had about 12 families attached to it. These families all gathered every morning to share breakfast at their common house, and every night to share dinner with one another.
While the rest of the town was sad and, well, bored, having little to do, the households were thriving. Some households had gathered together to build businesses. The Carter Household started a business making the best widgets this side of anywhere. The Miller Household grew fruits and vegetables they used to make exotic dishes they sold across the world. The households had their own power, with solar panels and wind turbines, and other creative solutions.
They even created their own health center, having among them four doctors and seven nurses.
These households all had one thing in common. They were closed to the public. All of the fruits of their work stayed mostly with themselves. So while they thrived, the rest of the town they lived in was dying.
One day, one of the leaders of one of the households said, “Hey, if the rest of the town dies, won’t that eventually effect us?”
So the households called a great gathering together to discuss what to do to preserve themselves if the household died.
A satisfied man spoke up, saying “Why would be effected? We grow our own food. We have our own businesses. We don’t need anyone else to make us happy!”
Then, a mysterious figure came forward. He did not give a name, and no one recognized him. He asked the households, “do you serve the Lord in everything you do?”
The satisfied man spoke, “Yes, we worship Him every day in our homes. We love one another as brothers and sisters. We share the Word with everyone around us.”
The mysterious man spoke back the satisfied man, “Do you open your homes to others? Is it not written:
1 Peter 4:9-10 Invite one another into your homes without complaining about it. Each person should use the spiritual gift he has received to help other people, like a good manager of the many kinds of God's gracious love.
The satisfied man countered, “We open our homes to visitors all the time!”
The mysterious man asked, “Do you open your home daily? Do you open your home when you have your morning and evening meals?”
The satisfied man thought about this for a while before he said, “Well, no. We have our private discussions then, so these meals are for members of the household only”
The mysterious man’s voice lifted high above the gathering, saying, “Is it not written of leaders that
1 Timothy 3:2 An overseer: must be above suspicion, must be a faithful, married man,• must be sensible, must have self-control, must be organized, must love people enough to invite them into his home, must be a good teacher.. Surely if a leader must love people enough to invite them into their home, should you not do the same? If you do not invite people into your home, even at meal times, even at gathering times, how can they see the fruits of the Holy Spirit fully? It is not a great effort, when you have some very private concerns to discuss to send your visitors out of the room for a time. Surely, not every moment of your gathering is consumed with very private concerns.”
There was a hush across the great gathering, as everyone realized they had done the same in their households, had closed the rest of the world out at the most evident time of the Holy Spirit in their lives, in their homes.
Then, the mysterious man asked the gathering, “You say you honor the Lord by worshipping in your homes every day..”
The satisfied man interrupted him, “Yes, we do. We sing praises to His name. We worship together. We share the Word with one another. We even invite guests to share in our worship!”
The mysterious man asked, “And what of the rest of the body? What of the churches in this land? Are they not dying as you leave them to worship amongst yourselves?”
The satisfied man had an answer for this, “The church doesn’t satisfy us anymore. We get more from worshipping amongst ourselves than we ever got from the church”
“Is the church not a part of the body of Christ? Are we not all parts of the whole body? What does the Lord say about this in John?”, the mysterious man said.
There was no response, so the mysterious man continued,
“John 10:16 But I have some other sheep that are not in this flock. I must lead them, too. They will listen to my voice. Then they will be one flock and one shepherd.
You invite people to participate in your praise and worship services, though you cannot serve them as the church can. Listen to the Word of the Lord:
1 Corinthians 12:18 God has now put each member in the body as He chose to do.
19 If everything were just one member, there would be no body!
20 But now, though we are many members, we are one body.
21 The eye cannot say this to the hand: "I do not need you!" Again, the head cannot say to the feet: "I do not need you!"
22 No, the members of the body which seem to be weaker than other parts are truly necessary.
23 There are parts of the body which we think are ugly. We give these parts special care. We treat an unmentionable part of the body with special attention.
24 The more beautiful parts of our body don't need this. But God has joined the parts of the body together. He gives more honor to the parts that need it.
25 God wants no division in the body. Instead, He wants the members to care about one another.
26 If one member is suffering, all of the members are suffering, too. If another member receives an honor, then all the members are happy for him.
27 Each one of you is part of Christ's body.
As this is true, so it is true that the church is a part of the body, and if it is sick, if it is weak, then it is for you not to abandon it but to lift it up. As the saying goes, BE the church you want your church to be. Do these things, open your homes to be witnesses to Christ in your lives. Do not abandon the part of the body that does not seem to serve you, the church, rather, serve as witness to the power of Christ in your life from within the church.”
After much rumbling, it was decided that each household would open its daily meal times and gatherings to the all of the sheep, whether they were in their flock or not. It was also decided that they would return to their abandoned churches, serving as witnesses to the community, the body of Christ, and becoming the church they want their churches to be.
Soon, they found that the churches they returned to began to flourish, began to serve other sheep not within their flocks. They also found Christians they had not seen, for they were not a part of their household.
As the households opened their meals and gathering to those around them, the message of Christ’s community spread throughout the sad town, giving others the inspiration to start their own households, modeled after the original twelve, until the sad town itself became a Godly, spirit-led town, always reaching outward, always opening their gates.