Pride in House Churches
I had a friend text me a few days ago and ask me one of the most beautiful questions I’ve been asked in regards to house churches. Part of the question is quoted below:
I know what pride & arrogance looks like inside the traditional church. What does it look like outside the traditional church?
What’s so beautiful about this question is that it assumes pride exists and has dangerous implications within organic house churches. The reality is, it does*.
In fact, pride is probably a greater danger for those who have left the traditional church setting. The idea that we have a ____________ (fill in the blank, better, more biblical, more effective, etc.) model of being church can having a damaging effect on believers. Believers who meet in homes are certainly not the first in the body of Christ to struggle with this reality. I’ve certainly witnessed believers who are part of house churches turn on the churches they have left with the same kind of judgment that they feel they have received from traditional churches. The reality is you can be right about something in the Kingdom and it still damage your relationship with God.
But pride creeps in in other areas as well. Often house churches suffer from many of the same problems that the early churches in the New Testament suffered from (because they were house churches as well). John wrote to his co-worker Gaius about Diotrephes, who loved to be the leader, and because of this he refused to work with the apostles and traveling workers that the Lord was sending to the church (3 John 5-10). This love of being known as the leader is simply another form of pride that crops up among house churches, even among churches that profess not to have leaders.
The fact of the matter is pride is a condition of the fall. We shouldn’t suspect because we are part of house churches, that religious pride can’t creep in. Rather, because humans are involved and all humans are broken, we should expect pride to creep in, especially where God meets us powerfully, the lost are brought to Jesus, and disciples are made.
Jesus calls us away from understanding our relationship with Him by comparing ourselves to others and into a glorious freedom where we become aware of the goodness of God in the person of Jesus. Jesus becomes our standard and our sufficiency, so we find in Him that we are both horribly insufficient and yet gloriously sufficient because the cross and the resurrection. When we are truly set free in the love of God, we no longer have to live in comparison to others and pride withers and dies.
Friends, when we are loved by God and experience His love deeply, the opinions of others matter little to us. We can love people without fear of being less than them and without having to be better than them. Because we serve Jesus, none of this matters. What matters is that God has poured out His love in our hearts and we get to share it with others.
*No doubt I will get someone who writes a comment about how bad pride is within the traditional church and why this article is misplaced. Let’s make sure we pull the log out of our eye before we offer to take the speck out of someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:3).