As mentioned in the post Fun with numbers, I was a professional business system analyst before I retired. When I first hired into the aerospace industry, I worked for Quality Assurance and traveled all over the country to conduct audits and reviews of major space and defense hardware systems. My work exposed me to government contracts, military and federal standards and specifications, technical documents and statements of work that give me a somewhat unique approach to studying and understanding the scriptures, now that I am retired and have devoted my life and talents to Christ Jesus.
While writing the post The crook who forsook the assembly, I began to meditate on the word assembly and remembered an old Military Standard that defined the word “assembly”. The thought launched me on an amusing thought train, worth sharing.
Mil-Std-130N, entitled “DoD STANDARD PRACTICE for IDENTIFICATION MARKING OF U.S. MILITARY PROPERTY”, paragraph 3.2 “Term Definitions”, provides the following definition:
Assembly. A number of parts or subassemblies or any combination thereof joined together to perform a specific function and subject to disassembly without degradation of any of the parts. (e.g., power shovel-front, fan assembly, audio-frequency amplifier)
What I find the most insightful in the Mil-Std definition of “assembly”, is that the individual parts are joined together to perform a specific function. In fact, there are a considerable number of scriptures which speak to the various functions that are to be performed when the brethren assemble together.
For example, Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 describe an assembly where believers encourage, teach and admonish one another. Hebrews 10:24 speaks of provoking one another unto good works. 1 Corinthians 14:26 speaks of sharing hymns, doctrines, speaking in tongues and interpretations, prophesying and weighing what is said, as a lively participative gathering of believers. Each of these are descriptive of the ways in which the body of Christ, that which Hebrews 10:25 refers to as the “assembly” of the brethren, are to function.
Mil-Std-130N also provides this definition:
Part. One item, or two or more items joined together, that is not normally subject to disassembly without destruction or impairment of designed use (e.g., transistor, composition resistor, screw, transformer, and gear).
Practically speaking, a part has little use by itself. It is only by assembling individual parts together that they have purpose. And where an assembly is designed to accomplish a specific function, not only must the individual parts be fitted together as designed by the engineer (creator), the assembly must be turned on (empowered) to fulfill its function.
If as in most churches today, the service is largely conducted by a paid, seminary trained professional pastor (hireling) before an audience of believers, then the gathering is NOT in fact a working assembly. Rather, the gathering is for all practical purposes no more than an ad hoc collection of loose parts, rendered useless by the failure to join them together and turn them on (empower them).
And now, back to my regularly scheduled retirement. 😉