Idolatry, it’s an interesting word. It’s a word that congers ideas of obvious sins. Sins that most people agree are sins. Idolatry could mean lust or greed, pride or power. But idolatry is also one of those things that we miss so often. We miss it because we don’t want to see it.
We don’t want to see our idolatrous hearts behind the conversations we have with others. We don’t want to acknowledge that our actions, as small or as large as they may be, are fuelled by our desire to please man for recognition. Idolatry is an ugly beast that can raise its head in every area of our lives.
But what’s the stack of cards? What can be likened to a structure that is so flimsy that it can topple in a breath? There is something that can tumble and fall if built on faulty footing. Yeah, you probably guessed it, the church.
Now, I know that the church is built on Christ the cornerstone and the teaching of God’s Word. If that’s the case then the church will stand firm through the storms of time. But what about a church that is built on idolatry? Can a church that is structured on sand stand? No, it cannot.
Most of my readers are evangelical Christians from various church traditions and backgrounds. But we are all in danger of building a stack of cards.
I’ve been mulling over the idolatry of polity in recent days. Church polity is the term used to describe ecclesiastical structure. It’s how the church is structured.
There are many church structures. Presbyterian, Episcopal, Congregational, Independent, just to name a few. But each of these church structures can be built on idolatry and not on Christ.
I’m not going to argue which I think is right or which has stronger biblical evidence. But every single structure must be careful not to be sucked into making their church polity an idol. Christians often joke about churches that are holy huddles, or Christian bubbles, that think they’re the only ones who have it right.
Some might think you can’t be a true Christian unless you’re a Presbyterian, or an Episcopalian or an Independent. Which, let’s be honest, is nonsense. And yet, Christians can focus so much on polity that they forget the lost people around them.
All you need to do is sit in a meeting where structural changes are proposed and watch it unravel. Or apply to be in a particular church polity and you’ll be asked to defend it from Scripture (which isn’t necessarily always a bad thing).
This mindset is unhelpful. It creates an ‘us v them’ culture. It creates a ‘we’re right and everyone else is wrong’ mentality. It can create a culture where the focus is more on the structure of the church and the service than it is on the sacrifice of the Son.
This happens in all types of churches. If our focus is more on church structure than it is sharing the gospel, something is wrong.
Do not build a stack of cards rooted in idolatry and misplaced confidence in a structure. Build on the firm foundation of Christ and God’s Word and watch the Lord build His church.
Don’t let church polity because an idol, instead spend your time focusing on the bridegroom. Prepare the bride as well as you can for His return and wait in eager anticipation for that marvellous day. Prepare His church, don’t build a stack of cards. Christ’s church will last, a stack of cards will fall.