I have often use fellowship and ecclesia interchangeably but ecclesia is more complex than fellowship. While fellowship simply means the sharing of Life (Christ), while ecclesia, on the other hand, is the demonstration and practice of Christ the body. In the ecclesia there is fellowship but in a richer and more complex way.
The purpose of the local ecclesia is to demonstrate and express the reality of the spiritual reality of Christ the body. As we all know there is Christ the head (the bridegroom) and Christ the body (the bride), both are Christ, they make up one body, one person (Jesus, the glorified).
So whatever Christ the body is must be demonstrated and expressed in the local ecclesia. For example the body of Christ is the family of God. We are a family, that is why we meet in homes. We do not meet in homes simply because the early Christians meet that way, or because it is enacted in our constitution. I have heard many defending house church by arguing that we must all do it because it is how the first Christian do church — that is a very poor argument.
Nowhere was it written that Christians must meet at homes, in fact Christianity do not have a written law describing how this religion should be practiced. This is not like Judaism that has a detailed book of law (Torah), we simply do not have such and God purposely omitted it. It was not a mistake, He didn't forget to give us detail descriptions.
"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." (Jer 31:33).
God did not create such documents because He has already written it all in our hearts. It is all in Christ, and God put this Christ into our hearts. So we are not following a written law, the new testament Bible, is not the law of Christianity, it is simply a book made up of writings of authoritative personality in early Christianity — Christ is our law.
The law is Christ, we are practicing Christ. So the reason why we meet at home is because we must express Christ (the law), and in Christ the body is a family. In our local assembly we must express that reality of being a family, and a family meets at home. They gather every day around the table, share a meal, talk about their day and share their lives. These things are not done in a hall, that is why meeting in a hall is not a good demonstration or expression of Christ the body.
Another thing is that the body of Christ is the bride. Who is a bride, what does a bride do, and how can this be expressed unto God in our local assembly? These are questions we must find answers to in the practice of the ecclesia. We must learn the divine romance, and how to enter into the inner chamber collectively as a body in order to enjoy romance with our Lord.
The body of Christ is also the community of the kingdom of God. We are to express this in our local assembly. This means our local assembly should be like a community that takes care of it members, makes decisions and govern itself. The early Christians used to gather their money today, get food and other needs and then the deacons distributed them to ensure that each member are well taken care of. They were a self-sustaining community.
Today the body of Christ have turned into ministry, everything is all about ministry. Every penny contributed goes straight to ministry, the members are reduce to sponsors of the ministries of men. This is not a true expression of Christ the body. We are a community, each member in a local assembly should be treated as a member of a community. Their needs should be meant by that community, they should receive care and support from the community.
The body of Christ is also the house of God. This is also something that is very practical. A house is the living address of a person, it is where anyone can locate a person and pay him a visit. We are to be the house where God resides, where the anybody can come and visit God. There are many out there searching for God, if only God has an address here on earth. Yes, He does have an address and we are that address.
People should be able to come into our local assembly and have an encounter with God. Local assembly should be a place where people who are truly searching for God comes in and search no more. Sadly what we have in today's church is a religious experience; people come in to experience religion and those who are truly searching for God end up going home disappointed.
In the house each stones are built together to form ONE structure. Are we being built together in our local assembly? If we are not, then we have not been practicing Christ the body. These individuals stones (the members of the assembly) must be built in love into a house of God's taste.
Christ the body is also an army, a city, a body, a fellowship of priests and kings, a tree (the vine), a new creation, a river of living water etc. A proper new testament local assembly is one who puts all these things into practice and try to demonstrate these spiritual realities in our physical world.
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