"Now for LOVE and SIMPLICITY" -by Andrew Strom. Some people may not realize, but the purpose of this "9 Lies" series has been to clear away as much 'junk' as possible - so we can actually SEE what the early church was like. Imagine a massive slab of rock, which is like the "foundation" that the original apostles laid in the early church. -Then imagine 2000 years worth of all kinds of structures being bolted onto this foundation - brick and glass and steel of all shapes and sizes. -A huge hodge-podge of structures that has taken hundreds of years to erect. (-A tangle of God's ideas and man's ideas all mixed together). What we have been trying to do, in essence, is take a bunch of bulldozers and a wrecking crew and scrape this huge unweildy tangle off the rock, so we can actually see the original "foundation" underneath. -In it's original pristine form. And what do we find when we get right back to the "original" thing? -We find LOVE and freedom and simplicity of the most rare and precious kind. We find a group of people without pretension - who loved God and each other with all their hearts. You know, I have grown very weary of playing the role of "demolition man" - even though I realize it is probably necessary so we can get right down to the 'foundation' again. I have been so much looking forward to getting the 'demolition' over with, so we can take another look at the original church with new eyes. I believe it is time to do just that. God has been speaking to me a lot lately about SIMPLICITY and LOVE. And when I look at the early church, I see this everywhere. This was not a "complicated" set-up. In fact, it was the 'ABSENCE" of complication that helped make it what it was. These people did not have to worry about church boards or Seminaries or building funds or Denominations or creeds or rituals or TV preachers or any of those things. (None of it had even been invented yet!) These people simply loved God and loved each other. And everything else flowed out of that. There was a "child-like" quality to their Christianity that we have to get back to. And if we are willing to leave the 'junk' behind, I believe we can. You know, in all His dealings with men, what God has really been wanting to re-establish is His simple yet profound relationship with Adam in the garden. The two of them used to walk together in the "cool of the evening", communing with one another like the closest of friends. And ever since then, God has wanted to see this relationship restored. And through Jesus, at last there is a way. But how many of us live in that place of deep communion with God today? Isn't it a tragedy that Jesus died so every one of us can get back to this kind of relationship with God - yet so few of us live in it? But it is possible. In fact, this is the key to the love and simplicity of the early church. There is a key Scripture that we need to look at: "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom 14:17). Notice that "righteousness" comes before 'peace and joy'. This is the key here. If our heart can become truly right before God, then these other things will naturally follow. And if we can get a GROUP of people whose hearts are right before God (-who have "no consciousness" of present sin - who WALK in the washing of the blood of Jesus) then that whole group can experience the kind of unity and simplicity and love that the early church walked in. The key is "righteousness" - and then will come 'peace and joy'. A lot of people try all kinds of things to get peace and joy in their lives - but they still cling to certain sins in their hearts (-especially deep unforgiveness) and wonder why they never find it. Just imagine for a moment that a group of people could be found who walked before God with a pure heart like this. And imagine if they had left all the Religious 'junk' and paraphenalia behind and simply gathered together and loved God and loved each other. It is the ABSENCE of this 'junk' that makes things simple. Imagine the love and the joy and the peace that these people could walk in if they just forgot about all that stuff and simply focused on HIM. -This is what the early church was like. Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like LITTLE CHILDREN, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3, NIV). In the 1960's, the "hippies" tried to achieve this kind of thing, but ultimately failed, because what they were doing was not built on heart-righteousness. But it is certainly possible if the righteousness of God is at the center of it. Man has a deep longing to see a people who live in true harmony and love and simplicity. This is the essence of what was lost in Eden. And we all have an inbuilt longing to return to it somehow. If people ever see the real thing, they will surely respond. All of this has been coming to my mind more and more, because this weekend we are holding our "Outdoor Gathering" in Blue Springs at one of the most beautiful parks I have ever seen. When I booked it I had no idea how lovely it was. A group of us have been praying there every Wednesday night and each time I get the most overwhelming sense of peace and unity in that place. -More than anywhere I have ever been, I think. It really was God who set this whole thing up. I believe this weekend is going to be all about "Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". -The simple things. We have spent the last two months talking about what the church is NOT - and removing all the 'junk'. Now it is time to literally FORGET it, leave it all behind and simply BE the church, out in the open air, loving God and loving one another. And I believe that any 'new movement' in the future must stand for these self-same things. To become the "original" church once more, we need to leave the complications behind and become 'child-like' in our Christianity again. That is why being out in the open air is such a great place to start. You can feel the liberty and the absence of 'Religion' just being there. I am very much looking forward to this weekend. Please pray for us, my friends? May LOVE and UNITY truly abound. God bless you all! Kindest regards in Christ, Andrew Strom.