People need Hope, the Church needs uniting, and nations, governments and organisations need strategy and stability. We are fighting global issues, this is not the time to be dividing. I have often said that the closer we get to the front line of battle, the less our differences should matter. This is where we find ourselves. This is the front line.
The church was never meant to be a pastoral organisation. The original greek word, Ecclesia, tells us this. Its simplest meaning being called out ones. Called out of the worldly jurisdiction into the citizenship of heaven and the establishing of Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. I also love the definition of it being God’s local government office, affecting the community around it, just like our earthly systems of government are intended to do.
Our current global challenges must encourage us to see the church become all that heaven intends her to be. Not an isolated and at times out of date and irrelevant ‘club’, but a thriving, expanding, relevant, unifying, powerful community of heaven’s citizens on earth.
The gift of pastors to the church is to equip the saints for the work of ministry, not to create a leadership and organisational model which gathers, protects, and isolates, but to be an essential and integral part of an organisation which changes the world. Don’t get me wrong we need pastors, after all Jesus called himself the Chief Shepherd, noting that he is also Apostle, Teacher, Evangelist, and Prophet. You can read a helpful unpacking of Fivefold Ministry here.
The more a church has a focus of gathering first, the more isolated and narrow its doctrinal position is likely to be. Not that it is wrong for a church, ministry, or denomination to have clearly and firmly held statements and expressions of their theological position. Though it is baffling to me that we can all have the same bible, Saviour, Father, and Holy Spirit and yet arrive at such diverse interpretations.
No the problem is not that we hold these doctrinal preferences and behaviours it is when we go out with those positions and impose them on the unbelieving world together with expecting other christians to agree with us. In so doing we expose the world, who need Jesus, not our opinions, to observe a divided church. When we do this we are more likely taking more of ‘our church’ into all the world than Jesus.
All 5 of the gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11 were given for the same reason: “To equip the saints, for the work of ministry”. The work of ministry is not church building, leading, or management, but seeing the ‘whole earth’ not just the church, filled with the knowledge of the Glory of God. This is our invitation to boldly step into kingdom mindedness and kingdom principles.
The questions therefore for the ‘called out ones’ are:
Can I in ‘going out’:
Take what I believe and influence and reform earthly government (of all people groups, businesses, nations and families) with Kingdom principles.
Take what I believe and influence the development of a united bride with Kingdom principles.
Take my intellectual understanding of the word of God and of God to draw people closer to God using Kingdom principles.
(A kingdom principle is amongst other things one which has a wider application than one church or denomination.)
I believe that it is time for us to discover our Kingdom principles and foundations. Perhaps our foundations can start here:
Who God says He is.
What God has said and done.
What God says He will do.
Who God says we are.
What God says we are to do.
When the church becomes truly apostolic, which is not always about the leader, but more about the culture, it will be a sending and a going church. It will be a church which affects nations, unites the bride and leads more and more people into a closer relationship with God.
As we do this we must avoid dangers associated with politics, religion, and education.
When I partner what I believe with a political position, I am in danger of partnering with spiritual influences of this world rather than heaven.
When I over emphasise my denominational doctrine I am in danger of dividing rather than uniting the bride.
When I take my intellectual and educational understanding without humility I will act out of pride and judgement against other believers.
Kingdom mindedness starts with what I believe, what I am a part of, and who I believe in.
I believe in the words, example and anointing of Jesus, I am a part of one bride, and I serve a risen King.
We cannot take our limited philosophical, doctrinal, or intellectual expression out into the world, however that is communicated, without paying attention to carrying the heart of humility, servanthood, and love for christ, mankind, and the unity of the bride of Christ.
We are called to take Christ with us. The one who always gathered tax gatherers, sinners, and religious leaders with opposing views around him and yet was forthright with his words but loving with His actions. He is our supreme example. This is our great apostolic assignment, to be Christlike in our interactions with all people.
There are so many things which I dislike greatly in this world, things I want to see changed and put right. I am greatly challenged as to how I can see that happen, knowing that we are not asked to compromise or dilute what we believe. Our challenge is to find a focus which draws us together and not divides us.
Without humility, servant hearts, and love:
Doctrines will divide us
Politics will divide us
Intellectual study will divide us
A sent son, sends us and unites us:
He said He would build His church,
He told us to make disciples of nations, not disciples of denominationalism, political manifestos or intellectual persuasions.
He told us to preach the gospel.
This is the essence of an Apostolic Movement.
We are the SENT ONES, sent sons and daughters.
It is time for an APOSTOLIC MOVEMENT!