Local or Cosmic Church?

“Some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man is not from God, he does not keep the Sabbath.'”(John 9:16)

I hear the voice of the pharisee quite often, ever since I stopped attending a local weekly service and began living intentionally in the larger, global, Church. In the minds of most modern church goers, there is a clear and immediate deficiency in a person who isn’t attending a weekly church service. It’s part of the fear culture that institutionalized religion uses to maintain the economic engine of the Sunday big show.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not against church or church goers at all. I simply believe that their purpose needs to grow mature Christians and graduate them into the Cosmic church rather than continuing to confuse them by equating the local church with the global or cosmic church. Yes the local or personal church is an aspect of the cosmic church, but it is not the same. They are not coextensive, but just like the church and the kingdom, they overlap on some points.

It does require maturity and intentionality to live and participate in the cosmic church.

  • It takes a different set of eyes to see it.  You can no longer stand in distinction between your local body and the one down the street.  If the differences create animosity, competition, resentments and nuances of belief rather than creating humility, openness, and service, then the local body may not have even entered into 1 Corinthians at all. How is such pride, competition, and disdain considered the fruit of the Spirit?
  • It requires a wide-angle lens.  The cosmic Church is truly a transformative and redemptive agent in the world. If Jesus is who he said he was and his Spirit is alive at all, then the by-product of people following after him and the Spirt dwelling in them is that in their wake is truly an incrementally better world. This means the cosmic Church is dwelling within the local church as well as outside it. Those who sacrificially give their lives for the sake of others in all fields of the world must then be considered to be in the church. Remember, Jesus said that the righteous are those who may not even know they are doing his work or who can’t remember doing it. They just did it. (Matt 25: 37-40)
  • Generosity is re-routed. In the cosmic church our giving does not need to be tax deductible. It is based on the need around our lives and our ability to help it in some capacity. Our giving of time and talent is equal to our money, and our money no longer has to go to pay a mortgage, insurance, staff or the light bill. Think of the hundreds of Billions of dollars that go to mortgages for big buildings and empires and what that could do to eliminate the pain and suffering in our world. Instead of giving money so our church can help the needy (which is usually a small percentage after all the expenses), we must be conscious of the needy and just give. It forces us to connect our life with those in need and in doing so we become the physical hands and feet of the cosmic Christ. If left in the local church model, we are always at least one generation removed from our gifts, we are forced to leave it to the professionals. Perhaps that is what some people really want.

There is much more to finding and involving ones self in the cosmic church. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to break free of the systems (not unlike leaving an Amish or Mormon community) in order to pursue the free and liberated body of Christ. But once you see it in your life, once your eyes realize who all is there and how amazing and powerful it really is, you will never go back to the local body other than to visit and to celebrate with those coming up. It’s like revisiting your elementary school. It’s nice to go back and see the next generation coming up, but your knees no longer fit under the table.

That’s exactly how I think is should be. The cosmic church should volunteer and serve when called in the local church and be catalysts to ensure that the people are not tricked into a lifelong servitude of the local model. Mature Christians must give the others the eyes and appetite for a bigger vision. Like the visiting missionaries, we need to go in and call people out and then go back out ourselves.