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
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
14 You are the light of the world
This simple statement says it all.
This is who you are.
This is what you are.
It is your identity.
There is nothing more important, individually or corporately.You are light.
You are hope.
You are the answer and you beg the question.
People will look at you and wonder.
They will see the light that you have.
In their minds and in their spirits they will ask the question.
They will want to know what you have.
They will perceive that you are not from the same culture.
When Jesus said this He didn’t qualify it.
He didn’t say you will become the light of the world when you are good enough.
No, you are that light right now.
That is what you are not what you are going to be.
How brightly you shine is up to you.
This light expels the darkness and attracts people.
It is the very light of heaven in you.
It is the glory of God in you.
They will see Him in you and that is how it is meant to be.
They will love you because they love Him first.
They will hate you because they hate Him first.
Let people see and experience the light that is in you.
Believe that you are the light to the world.
The words you have will bring life.
They will bring encouragement.
The love that will emanate from you will be His love flowing through you.
The world is looking for answers.
They want more than mere words.
They want a demonstration.
Something they can touch.
Something they can see as well as hear.
You have that within you.
The answer, complete and unabridged.
You lack nothing because He that lives in you lacks nothing.
That is why we can say ‘nothing is impossible’.
With confidence we say ‘all things are possible’.
Simply because it is not us alone but it is Him in us.
The beauty and genius of this is that He is quite happy to use flawed and broken people.
If you have made mistakes or messed up you instantly qualify.
The light that shines in you is His light.
It isn’t a dimmed, weak or ineffective light.
It isn’t a broken bulb.
It is the light of His glory.
It is His kingdom seen.
An expression of His love and His joy.
It is the light of the good news that He cares passionately about every single person.
The world deserves an encounter with Him.
There is so much darkness where the enemy has had a field day.
destroying people’s lives and relationships.
He wants to heal and restore.
He is going to do it through you.
He has a cunning plan.
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little”
(Luke 7v47 NIV)
Don’t love little, draw closer to Him and you will see how much He loves you.
Remind yourself what He has done for you.
Imagine life without Him, that should get you.
You can do nothing but be undone by it.
The closer you are the more you cannot help love Him.
Deliberately and intentionally spending time with Him, drawing close to Him will change everything.
Ask Him what love looks like?
It might be different to what you might call love.
Describe in your own words why you love Him and how you show your love to Him.
It is for you to search out what that love looks like.
It isn’t necessarily what you do in terms of serving in the church but that can be part of it.
You live for Him.
There is no other kind of life.
Money is just one resource. There is your time, your intellect and your energy. They can be translated into hard earned cash. They can be offered to Him as an offering. many teach about tithing, giving 10% of your income. There is often a big debate as to whether it is net (after tax) or gross (before tax).
This would seem to me to be missing the point. I would go so far as to say it is the wrong answer to the wrong question. It isn’t how little you can give or what is the minimum before something bad happens to you. Rather it is how much you are willing to surrender to Him.
If you have ever said or sung ‘I surrender all’ then you have declared that everything is His. Your time, your money and your energy and even your skills, abilities and knowledge. He gave them all to you anyway.
Money tends to be the focus. It can be easily measured. It can also be our biggest downfall. More often than not we become transfixed by it. Obsessed by it. Love it. Fear it, and the list goes on. It can be our security and also a powerful weapon.
Money itself is inert. It isn’t evil. What we do or don’t do with it sheds light on the workings of our heart. Jesus was supported by the wealth of the ladies that followed Him. They took care of His needs out of their own pocket. If Jesus needed money so will we.
A healed back
A lady in our church hurt her back while at the gym lifting weights. She was in a lot of pain and struggled to even get her shoes on. After prayer that night from other christians in the church she found that the next day the pain had all but gone and was able to go back to the gym and exercise as normal. The back has remained healed.
Job at last
Someone who had been looking and praying for a permananent job for three years has finally been given one. This is an answer to prayer for many people have been praying. It was part of a process of God dealing with his own heart and attitude.
After losing his wallet and case full of important dociuments we prayed for its return. A few days later his wallet was returned and then a day or so later his case was returned to him.
Keep praying, keep believing but above keep surrendering to Him. He knows what’s best for you.
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.
One of the things you have to contend with is background noise. There are so many thoughts and ideas in your head being fed by memories, sights, sounds, smells and feelings. They alone can be overwhelming, add to this cacophony is hearing His voice which seems to be the quietest.
They call it that still small voice. The reason it is so quiet is that all the others speak to your mind directly whereas He speaks to your spirit. There is no competition or at leat very little. The question is how can you differentiate between your thioughts, His thoughts and perhaps the devils attempts to influence you.
If I can suggest one simple answer ‘peace’. If what you hear sends you into a tailspin, confusion, doubt, worry, despair etc then you have a right to challenge what you have heard. This can also happen when He has spoken to you and you add your bits to it, extrapolate His words, adapt it, multiply it etc you get the picture.
It is never that our brains/minds are the enemy, far from it, rather it is perfect when our minds align with our spirits and particularly when our spirit listens to The Holy Spirit. It is a process of learning and I am still learning. A hard lesson especially when the pressure for a solution to a problem is on.
Train yourself to listen. It is a process and an art. It is a discipline but well worth it. making mistakes is all part of the learning process.