Matthew 16:15-18 Who do you say that I am?
The church is not built by human effort. God builds His church, and He does it His way. He uses pictures to reveal the church to men. These pictures reveal something about God – this shows that He is our God and we are His people; that His church declares His glory. “You are the Christ” – this declaration is where the church is built. Doing things, being places, attending meetings, having habits do not add you to the church.
When God interacts with people, the interactions often involve the Land: Garden, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos. The pattern is God heals the people, and THEN He heals the land. A healed people are designed to steward a healed land. This is purpose. With wounded people in the presence of a wounded land, we are trying to fabricate stewardship. The PEOPLE are bigger than the individual. The LAND is bigger than the people. Church life is not any kind of meeting, no matter how elaborate or simple. But ecclesia is a life lived in a land with others and God.
Current church structure is focused on the Sunday morning meeting. All the energy is ramped up for the Big Show. But most people are not satisfied with that, so we add sunday school, specified small groups, events, ministries, etc. We organize things to focus on the meeting at a set time, inside a set building, and then bemoan the fact that people are not out in the community, so we try to manufacture programs to get them “outside the walls.” We craft a system that focuses on a once-a-week meeting, and when that proves lacking, we try to add events and concerns to people’s already full lives. This is not what they signed on for. This was not the original deal. The Good News of the Kingdom is a transformational reality for your whole life. It is by its nature self-sacrificial and all-encompassing. We should be encouraging a community of people who are sharing life together, working and ministering together, who then gather to celebrate this life, praise our God, testify to His deeds, share our joys and concerns.
We should not use physical things to birth spiritual things, but use them as a tool, and use them properly, and use them alongside spiritual weapons. The church, God’s people, should have compassion, as Jesus did.
Jesus is building His church also on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and not simply the biblical ones, but those living today. The Bible is immensely important, but we cannot simply stare at it, study it, and miss the bigness of God, the vastness of the Kingdom, the immensity of our call. If we merely disect the word, we will be like those of whom Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” We should be motivated and moved by the Bible to LIVE, and to walk with the Holy Spirit in the world.
Do you hate the church? Do we hate the church? What is the church? God’s church is the collection of saved sinners living life in a fallen world, with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. The religious systems of man are not the church, but merely a counterfeit. That doesn’t mean spirit-filled believers can’t be involved with them, or lead them, or that the traditional church system can’t do good things in the world. But they are two different things.
The foundation of the church is the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is in 1 Corinthians 3:11 – for no man can lay a foundation, other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. The only way a person can be added to the church is through the Holy Spirit revealing them the truth of who Jesus Christ is. This is the only way to get fruit that lasts.
What is the most effective way to communicate the Gospel? Is it to gather people for an activity? Is it by making them your friend? Is it a game night, movie night, car show, hunting trip, bike ride, concert, bounce house? Or is it by obeying Christ? To prove that we believe who He says He is, that we have been pierced by His grace, that we live in a Kingdom that forgives sin and gives you what you could never earn by your performance? Is it to love because we first were loved? Why should anyone be motivated to come to Jesus if your thoughts, words, and actions communicate that you never did? This is not a matter of being perfect or the most righteous; it’s a matter of changing what you treasure and acting like Christ is your King. If you don’t live what you preach, you negate what you preach.
What do you preach? What is the loudest part of your gospel? Is it your political beliefs? Is it your work ethic? Is it your purity codes? Is it your religious festivals? Is it your concerts? Or is it your love borne out of the immensity of grace? What is it we’re supposed to be proclaiming? The mystery of the Church – Christ in us. The church is the fellowship of the mystery. God in man. The Kingdom in our midst.
The transformation the Holy Spirit brings is not a cessation of sin. It is a total heart transplant. It is forsaking the world. It is humility. It is serving others. It is submitting to God. It is laying down our rights, dreams, defenses, and taking up our cross. It is following the Master. To become Christ-like, you must lay down your life for people who hate you.
The Gospel changes how we interact with people. It changes how we view the world. It changes where our hope is placed. It should change your interactions with the rest of creation.
- The decline of the church – its health as an institution and its status in our culture
- The way we see our church – using physical tools to try to get spiritual results
- Trying to get purpose out of function instead of allowing purpose to define function
- The Church is primarily spiritual in nature
- Physical things should only be midwives; tools to loosen satan’s grip. Not using things of the world to attract people to the Gospel.
- What you draw them with is what you draw them to.
Do you see your church the way Jesus sees your church? How does Jesus see your church? Jesus’ church has a design defined by Him. Here are some of His patterns from scripture:
- Creation and marriage of Adam and Eve – God’s purpose came before people’s function; intimate fellowship; grace-covered state; stewarding over creation in obedience to God; this brings glory to God.
- Tabernacle of Moses – demonstrates God’s work in the sacrifice of Christ. The tabernacle was symbolic of God’s presence with the people, and of the impending appearance and sacrifice of Christ. The church today should also be representing God’s presence and the sacrificial nature of Christ.
- The Tabernacle of David – God’s grace manifested in salvation to the Gentiles
- Temple of Solomon – God’s glory revealed through His presence amongst His people
- Temple of Ezekiel – pattern of priesthood in service and ministry.
We must examine our purpose and our function, and discern which is leading. If we adopt an incorrect purpose, it will lead us to bad functioning. If we try to create purpose by functioning, we are performing a transaction. We don’t do nice things for our spouses so that they will love us. We love them, and so do nice things for them. When we have a false purpose, or attract with functioning, and let our tasks and activities lead, we will attract people to those things. They will never find real purpose. They will not find intimate fellowship found in unity in the Spirit.
David Crowder Band – A Beautiful Collision
Audio Adrenaline – Jesus Movement
This episode originally broadcast live on September 11, 2015 on KXEN 1010AM in St. Louis, MO