One of the things that reveals the depraved heart of man is to watch toddlers play. If said toddlers have never been taught to share and two or more decide on the same toy at about the same time, watch out! Even if one or more have been taught to share, it’s not unusual to still here that shrieking battle cry of, “Mine!” We are possessive. We want to own things. We want them to be completely under our own control. This is true of material things whether it be a toy, a car, or a house and it’s true of less physical things like churches.
There are two ways “my” could be used when someone says, “My church.” They could mean, “The church which I attend.” But it’s also not unusual for someone to say, “My church” and mean, “The church that belongs to me.” It’s not unusual in our churches today to see “ownership issues.” This is where one person or one group of people believe that because they’re at the church, they call the shots at that church. It’s “their” church. This leads to so many squabbles, so many hard-feelings, and unfortunately, more than a few church splits, that it’s hard to believe that the heart of the issue is one or more people who claim to follow Jesus Christ. I know this can’t please God.
Then Solomon said, “You have shown great lovingkindness to Your servant David my father, according as he walked before You in truth and righteousness and uprightness of heart toward You; and You have reserved for him this great lovingkindness, that You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” – 1 Kings 3:6-9, NASB
Solomon, when he took first the throne, realized that he was there only by God’s direction. He also realized that though he was king, Israel wasn’t his. Israel belonged to God. Solomon was just the caretaker. And so he went before God asking for wisdom, pointing out quite clearly that he was unable to rule this group of people, God’s chosen people, properly without God’s help. So he implored God for the understanding he would need to judge correctly. We need to take the same attitude for the churches where we serve and worship.
That last sentence was worded very carefully. We say church is God’s house, but a lot of times we don’t treat it that way. If you were the building owner and someone was going to change something about your building, especially the way it was to be used or the rules to be followed with respect to how people acted, you would probably want to be consulted. Yet we don’t give God the same courtesy. We don’t own the church. God does. Therefore, possessiveness and symptoms of ownership on our part and not appropriate. Each church is His, so let’s treat them like they’re His.
By the way, that also means admitting we don’t know enough to administer and take care of His church properly. How should worship go within the particular building I attend? I’m hoping that my pastor and the worship team is checking in with God. If I disagree with something, I should be checking in with God about it. Perhaps it’s me who is wrong. If it’s not, then I should be asking God to show me how to approach the right people. Of course, I should have already looked in the Scriptures to make sure worship is following what guidance we’ve been given. What about the power of deacons or elders or some other body within the church? First, what does the Scripture say? After that, have I checked in with God? If we did these two things, and we did them earnestly, I imagine that most of the in-fighting and hard-feelings and numbers of hurt people within our churches would decrease greatly. I also think we’d do a better job of encouraging one another and being closer to the Body of Christ that Paul spoke of than we are today.
So let’s take a radical step. Let’s treat the church as it is: God’s house. Let’s check the Scriptures thoroughly if there is something we disagree with or we have an idea of how to make things better. If what we’re thinking is in line with the Scriptures, let’s take the next step and take it before God’s throne. Let’s ask for His wisdom and His judgment. Let’s not rely on our own. Let’s give it to the proper owner: God. And whatever He says goes, even if it is in conflict with our original stance. After all, it’s not my church, for I can’t own that which belongs to God.