Following on from our look at Ekklesia this is our third (#3) instalment…
The church is meant to have political and cultural clout in society.
It isn’t just about individuals but towns, cities, regions and nations.
“One would assume that during His years of public ministry, Jesus must have spent considerable time teaching about the Church, specifically about its nature and also how to plant and grow one. Get ready to be surprised, because as far as the four gospels are concerned, Jesus used the word translated “church” in our Bibles only three times (see Matthew 16:18; 18:17). That is the extent of His recorded teaching on the subject in the gospels.” (from “Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Instrument for Global Transformation” by Ed Silvoso, Bill Johnson)…
Jesus did not say ‘I will build my synagogue or temple’
He said ‘I will build My Ekklesia’
Church is translated from the Greek origin Ekklesia
When we say church what do we think of? Meeting, building, leader, worship, teaching, offering, organisation, membership? We talk about ‘…being at church’ or ‘…going to church’ or ‘…the church should…’ ‘…I am a member of…’
As if it is a thing itself.
“During the days when Jesus walked this earth, however, Ekklesia—the Greek word translated into English as “church”—was not religious in nature or connotation at all. In fact, by the time He first uttered the word in the gospel of Matthew, it had been in use for centuries in both the Greek and Roman empires to refer to a secular institution operating in the marketplace in a governmental capacity.” From Ekklesia by Ed Silvoso
What we now know as ‘church’ has evolved over the centuries but may not be exactly what He intended or intends for today.
The scriptures describe the Ekklesia sweeping across the known world at that time.
That seems a far cry from what we now see as struggling to have impact on the culture and society it helped create.
So what is church/Ekklesia?
It is all about people. They went from house to house. It wasn’t a Sunday service. The church was 24/7
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
The church in the early years…
Was the instrument of God to transform people and society.
Was a people movement.
It was countercultural.
It grew organically.
Right across the region.
The church grew without bible schools, seminaries or full time staff.
There was little or no organisation.
Didn’t even have the New Testament as we have it.
There were a few epistles/letters floating around.
For each other
And loving what He has gifted you, you
Love looks like something
Love costs something
It is not change for the sake of it
But changing our hearts, our attitudes and motives
He believes in you
He has written a book about you
Not in pencil so He can rub it out and rewrite it
Not on a word processor so He can edit it as He goes along
Find out what He has written about you
And do it, be it
Whatever you are now you are better than that
The church is meant to reflect the love of God and demonstrate His power to a world bereft of hope. Unless there is a deep and tangible love for Him, for each other and even for ourselves we will struggle to love a world hell bent on destroying itself.
We are the world’s only hope and yet we backbite, criticise and regularly fall out with each other with no thought of the consequences. Relationships become secondary to doctrine as if God isn’t relationational. He isn’t running a multinational corporation where Jesus is the CEO.
We like to talk organisation and structure and yet He seems to talk about relationship and love. Unless we deeply love Him we are going to struggle to love each other. His love for us, His forgiveness alone should melt out hearts.
Consecrate and surrender are not popular words (except in songs) but unless there is full, unconditional surrender to Him we can only glimpse at what could be. His love is unconditional but His promises are not.
Church is meant to be governmental and influential. That can sound like a power trip and people who want that will go after that. Jesus demonstrated power and influence without corrupting both those two words.
We are meant to serve this culture, community or society not judge and criticise. We are to offer hope, a solution not an invitation to a meeting.
Businesses, schools, hospitals, the police etc should be getting solutions from the body of Christ. Solutions that have their origins in heaven not man’s thinking. God wants to bless His creation but we can stubbornly refuse to believe that we have anything to contribute.
There is no separation of secular and sacred. One impacts the other, they are intertwined. He created a physical world and a real heaven. The two operate together at all times. What you do in the physical impacts the spiritual and vice versa. Take the time to find out how and why.
He made us to be relational. When we meet for a Sunday service we are meeting together but we are not meeting each other. Yes, we will greet each other, say ‘Hi’, ‘How are you?’ Etc. Our replies are usually in the order of ‘fine’, ‘could be better’ or ‘not too bad’. The weather is also a very useful safe topic of conversation.
How well do you know people in your church? When was the last time you had a meal with them or a coffee? Is it only with those you get on with? Do you know enough about them to pray specifically?
The church gathering on a Sunday is not the place to have deep and meaningful conversations. Neither is it when you are having coffee afterwards. It has to be deliberate, intentional.
This is also true of our relationship with God. Don’t keep Him at arms length. Don’t confine Him to the pages of a book. You can’t keep Him at a safe distance. Neither do this with those who you share your Christian walk with. Spend time getting to know each other. It is imperative. It is vital.
First off I am not saying anything against meetings. Every time two or more people get together they are meeting. However how we view church is often based on either the institution or the meeting on a Sunday. We use phrases like ‘if only the church…’ or ‘I’m going to church…’.
We use these expressions all the time, I do but they don’t really convey what church is and sometimes it is helpful to use a different word to express it. So the word ‘Ekklesia’ can help to redefine what He means by The Church.
How we define it as traditionally a meeting of people in a certain place at a certain time on a certain day to sing praises to Him and hear someone teach from the bible. That is a gross oversimplification but the elements are there. There is structure and there is purpose.
We even measure people’s performance by their attendance. We mark the worship team out of 10 and the preacher/speaker out of 10, and even dream up better ways for the pastor or vicar to do a better job. The focus centres around the meeting on Sunday and everything else flows from that. The prayer meetings, the children’s work, youth or the Homegroup during the week.
Often this can mean a separation of the secular and sacred. That is church, this is work and this is family. Church becomes something we go to or have done to us. That is not His deepest desire or His ultimate plan. There is more, far more.
“The word Ekklesia is the word translated church from the Greek.
This word means the judicial, legislative and governmental people of God.
It speaks of a people that have been granted legal positions on Earth and before the Lord.
We have been given the right and authority to get things legally in place so that God’s will can come into the Earth realm.”
Excerpt from “Operating In The Courts Of Heaven: Granting God the Legal Right to Fulfill His Passion and Answer Our Prayers” by Robert Henderson