"There is a great deal that we should like to say about this high priesthood [of Jesus], but it is not easy to explain to you since you seem so slow to grasp spiritual truth. At a time when you should be teaching others, you need teachers yourselves to repeat to you the ABC of God’s revelation to men. You have become people who need a milk diet and cannot face solid food! For anyone who continues to live on 'milk' is obviously immature — he simply has not grown up. 'Solid food' is only for the adult, that is, for the man who has developed by experience his power to discriminate between what is good and bad for him." Hebrews 5:11-14
Along these lines, can we ponder for a moment - have a candid little talk about - the nature of the Church, as we know it? In reality, most people identify "church" entirely with Sunday morning, with "services," with brick-and-mortar edifices down the street from their house. Perhaps, if they've lifted their gaze a little higher, they can move past those conceptions and talk about the worldwide Church, the unseen spiritual fellowship of all believers. Yet the word that Jesus used for "church" - I'm sure we've most of us heard it before - was ἐκκλησία, "ecclesia." And I want you to read what that word would've actually meant in the ears of the 1st Century Jews and Gentiles; this is from a book called The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries:
“To the Jew, the Ecclesia had been the assembly of the congregation of Israel, summoned to meet at the door of the Tabernacle of Jehovah by men blowing silver trumpets. To the Greek the Ecclesia was the sovereign assembly of the free Greek city-state, summoned by the herald blowing his horn through the streets of the town. To the followers of Jesus it was to be the congregation of the redeemed and therefore of the free, summoned by His heralds to continually appear in the presence of their Lord, who was always to be in the midst of them.”
And that's where I want to tie in to Hebrews 5:11-14. For Jesus to be present with us in a higher "We are the Body of Christ" sort of way, how many people do we think are truly necessary? 5,000? 1,000? 50? 12? Well, what did Jesus Himself say?
“For wherever two or three people come together in my name, I am there, right among you!” (Matthew 18:20)
Two or three! So anytime two or three of us - or more - are together, should not our quickest activity be a joint-realization of His present aliveness and activity in our midst? If even just two together can represent and embody the Body, we nearly never are not in the ἐκκλησία, are we?
So at what point do you and I suddenly think we need a teacher or pastor in this numbers' game; how quickly do we relegate "solid food" work to professionals, and to ourselves "milk"? Is it with congregations of 10, 20, 100, 500 - what is our own personal threshold? At what point do we think we know "enough" and, from there, allow another person to go "further" on our behalf?
Random question for you: Have you ever read any of Blaise Pascal's Pensees? Well, whether or not you have, consider this one - No. 149 - it's got some dark humor and zing on its meaning:
“We do not care about our reputation in towns where we are only passing through. But when we have to stay some time we do care. How much time does it take? A time proportionate to our vain and paltry existence.”
Do you see the point he's trying to make about our self-importance and self-perception? Well, in our present consideration, I'd rewrite his words like this:
"We do not need another teacher in situations where one, two, or a few, are gathered together. But when we meet at 'Church,' or in greater numbers, we suddenly do. How many people in a room does it take? A number inversely proportionate to our belief in the alive presence of Jesus."
Friends, in 1 John 2, John, the best friend and closest confidant of Jesus, writes to us:
“Yet I know that the touch of his Spirit never leaves you, and you don’t really need a human teacher. You know that his Spirit teaches you about all things, always telling you the truth and never telling you a lie. So, as he has taught you, live continually in him.” (1 John 2:27)
If your favorite Christian writer stopped writing, if your pastor walked off the stage and called you up in his stead, what would you have to share for the good of the Body? My friends, because Jesus is alive and because He delights to reveal Himself to His followers, we should never not have anything to speak of Jesus. Truly, He gives Himself as "solid food" to all who ask. Are you asking? Do you want the more He's offering?