Each country has its own money, or rather has had until the advent of the Euro in this century. I have in my collection some money from Amsterdam, from before the Euro, as well as some Kenyan bills and coins. My son collects all sorts, mostly of the American sort. All of it is actually quite worthless now, let alone if the economys the money is drawn on collapses. In your wallet, you have different denominations of bills, and some are labeled with higher values than others, but they are all just "fiat" money...worth something only because somebody says so. The paper that money is written on is actually worthless. It is the gold behind that money that backs the value.
Jesus' goal on Earth was to establish a people...a church of people called out for the Kingdom. That kingdom is already here, in the sense that we are the kingdom, and it is yet to come in the sense that it will be brought to completion on a day yet to come. We are of this heavenly kingdom, since we were born again into the kingdom. Jesus told peter, Matthew 16:18-19 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. So you can see the here and now, and the later to come of the thing. And, you can see that Jesus is establishing a church in heaven, to which Peter is to enlist from Earth's peoples. Very early on, even in the time of the 12 disciples, people began to split up and form different ideas about Christianity. There is even recorded instances of arguments between churches and ministries and ministers throughout the New Testament. Some issues were only resolved by spliting ways, as with Paul and Barnabas. But, we never read of one saying the other could not go to heaven. I can not picture Peter sticking his tongue out at Paul and shaking the keys in his face, insisting that the gospel is only for the Jews, though Paul did stand in Peter's face and call him a bigot or a hypocrit. Galatians 2:11-12 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
How sad the disciples were to see Jesus go when He ascended up into heaven. But, they soon learned that they were to be filled with the Holy Ghost...God's Spirit inside of them here on Earth. And, either way, we have "God with us." Not only does Emmanuel mean God with Us, but the compound name "Jehovah Shammah" used in the Old Testament in Exodus 48:35 means "the Lord is here." It may seem easy for us to see only one church when Jesus walked Earth. But, if you think about it, that's why the Jews had the Romans kill Jesus...the different denominational sects did not want Him to be the one church head. So, denominationalism goes all the way back into the Old Testament. But, that Heavenly kingdom is the "gold standard" all the denominations are built on here on earth. Just as denominations of money only refer to the gold behind them, church organizations are only representative of the Kingdom of Heaven.
The name Cephas, or Peter meant little rock, or pebble. As Jesus is building his church, he allows us to be a part of the bigger Rock. But, we are still just a piece of the rock...just a tiny pebble you see. It is rare for man to be able to look beyond the keys in his hands to see the majesty of the kingdom of heaven that he is entering with those keys. He sees power in the keys, but fails to recognize what lies beyond, and whose power He holds in his hands. We do not see the glory of God with us in our hands because of the denominational "dollar bills" in our churches. The buck stops here...on Earth...and so do the denominations. Jesus has the gold standard and the one true church of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let me invest myself into that Kingdom and see people won into that Kingdom.
A child extends his arms with his hands turned back to back, intertwines his fingers, folds all his fingers down at the knuckles, and begins to recite, "Here's the church..." He raises his two pinkies into an apex and continues, "Here's the steeple." He opens his thumbs, folds his fingers outward and invites, "Open the door and see all the people." But, where is God? I often wondered as a child where God was in the equation. Is that all there is to church...so many people? And, why are they there then? It seemed easy to spot the Pastor...the Sunday School teachers...but, how to find Jesus...? And, how do I meet this man who loved me so much? He sounds wonderful! He must be looking for me too.
I did find Him, in a life changing explosion of peace when I was 14. Wrapping my heart around his Word, I began to notice that I could take Him with me everywhere, not just in church. He belonged to me, and I belonged to Him. When you are following Jesus, you walk in step with leaders who help guide your steps. But, if they lose their way, you've got to look around them to your destination. Sometimes people in church let go of God...and not always just temporarily. I firmly held onto the fact in my heart that it didn't matter what anybody else did, my deal was with God. Afterall, if you are following a person, and he falls, you have to keep walking, with or without him. You can't give up just because someone else tosses in the towel. I tried hard to hold onto Jesus, and keep my eyes on Him. Even when I strayed, His love would draw me back.
Though my early years had been in a couple of different denominations, since the age of 14 I had been in one single organization. But, I knew that a denomination won't assure your track to heaven, since the true church is the larger body of Christ, and not an earthly body. I began to hear teachings that weren't Biblical in the last few years. One such teaching was that you could have no anointing from God seperate from what came from your pastor. The illustration that was used to teach this was the fact that when Aaron was anointed with oil, the oil flowed from Aaron's beard downward. So, it was supposed that this meant that anointing flows downward in a chain from God, to the pastor, then to the Christians in the church. I never believed this, since I knew from personal experience that God spoke to me, often, and in many cases without telling my pastor, like when I felt a desire in my heart to go to nursing homes and read the Bible for elderly residents with failing eyesight. That never came through my pastor, or any other person. Like it or not, every individual has direct access to God, and this is the whole reason for Jesus' death on the cross, so that we could boldly come to the throne and ask God, and hear from God. Jesus is our High priest. Otherwise, we might as well break up the altars in a church. Why even pray to God. Pray to a man I suppose instead.
A troubled man fell asleep with his head on a rock one night. He had family problems. His brother hated him with good reason; they had competed for everything. While sleeping, this man Jacob dreamed a ladder reached from him to heaven, and angels of God were ascending and descending. I love that scene because of the picture of access it paints to God. We cannot be restrained from the doors of heaven. In the business world, we hear people complain of glass ceilings, where they can see the "top" but can't seem to climb the ladder. It shouldn't be like that in church. An old testament prophet saw messengers from God coming from between mountains of brass.
Zechariah 6:1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass. These mountains were not only barriers... they were brass. But, God can bend brass...Isaiah 45:2-5 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel...I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:
It really never mattered in the scheme of things, which way the oil flows, since I usually follow, and the oil was flowing on me, too. I only cut my own trail when the path is blocked. I found myself at a cut off point though, over a year ago when I began to visit the church that my husband and I attend now, with him. We were attending both churches for a total of 3 services on Sunday while we dated. We believed that God would lead us to a decision together if and when we should commit to choosing one. But, Aaron's beard got in the way...or rather out of the way. I was advised in counseling that if I went to a church that taught different doctrines than those my church taught I would be commiting the "sin against the Holy Ghost." This errant teaching, along with other factors only made the choice of churches easier. You have a choice...do you attend the church with the brass ceiling, where only certain people can reach the oil of the spirit, or do you attend the church where the oil flows freely on all?
And, therein lies the problem...the problem of brass ceilings. Do you really believe that God is limited by a denomination, or a doctrine or creed? Do you think that access is restricted, and that we need to get our hands stamped at the door when moving from one "organization" to another, in case we need reentry at a later time. Do you believe in God now...or do you believe in Aaron's beard? The answer is always Jesus. I refuse to allow people to tell me I can't have God without membership in a particular orgainization...which is what you have done if you have sinned against the Holy Ghost, (you've been denied belonging to God any longer.) The door didn't hit me on my way out, which has to be the attitude of a Christian. You can't run fast enough from false teaching.
Where am I today, for those who wonder? I've broken through the brass ceiling. I am standing under the free-flowing oil of the Spirit of Pentecost!