Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Kingdom of God: Building through Deconstruction

Matthew 16:18 “…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The longer I journey outside of the legacy church world, the stronger my desire to see the emergence of the church the Lord is building. I also see in sharper detail how His work is often undermined by the “work of our hands” (including mine). Increasingly I find Him doing more in and through me as I and those around me learn how to do less.

There are many dimensions to this issue. I will only deal with a few here. First, the Lord is building ONE church, ONE bride, not a harem. Those with genuine Ephesians 4 gifting will understand this… especially those who are genuine apostles and prophets.

Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, [3] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Our Father is building ONE household. So if we are letting Him build through us, we will zealously and jealously labor with a heart to see God’s people thrive in their identity as Kingdom citizens, members of God’s household. This cannot be done without apostles and prophets. And yet Jesus Himself is the cornerstone, not the pastor or gifted leader. Beyond this we must be very careful that we do not unwittingly produce a rival identity that undermines oneness.

Luke 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Sadly, when we do not gather with Him, we scatter. Aren’t there so many “spiritual” reasons we do so.? We run headlong after idols of doctrinal purity, charismatic expression, and idolatrous leader worship.
If we are gathering with Jesus the universe of our fellowship will grow larger, not smaller. We abandon the professions of “following Paul or Apollos”. Instead we embrace a broad family of Ephesians 4 gifts the Lord gives us to bring us to maturity. We cannot continue to allow ourselves to be corralled by a single pastor or leader, or even several within one “brand” or expression of “church”.

Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, [3] which he obtained with his own blood. [4] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

This means that the Lord is calling us to make disciples of Jesus, not of us, not of our organization, no matter how pure we believe it to be. The best evidence of this will be our ability to walk as an ever growing expression of an extended family. If we identify ourselves as followers of a person we’re clearly still deeply carnal, no matter what spiritual “things” we claim to be pursuing.

What is most challenging in our growth as disciples is learning to BE the body. The longer I walk in “organic” circles, the more I find that so many who talk a good game about being the body aren’t willing to lay down their lives to “live well together in Jesus”. If we don’t get this, nothing else matters. Biblical knowledge and charismatic manifestations go to seed. Only agape will prevail.

At this stage of kingdom life, we’re putting a stronger emphasis on making disciples, less on simply having regular meetings for meetings’ sake. The Lord continues to expand our circle of leadership connections. Just recently we met with other leaders with a city-wide understanding about ways the Lord is calling us to work together. We’re asking the Father and each other how we can minister to people the Lord has given us, together ,without taking ownership of God’s work or of people.

Recently several of us discussed the continuing temptation among believers to obsess over questions of “how to do church”. This prompts us to look for a “better mousetrap”. One person wisely raised the million dollar question: “Why aren’t we instead asking why there are mice and rats in the house?”

The bottom line: let’s not be those mice, looking for the place we can find the best offer for cheese. And God forbid that we should be the allegedly more mature “rats”, leading consumer driven mice down another “rat hole”. Let’s make sure we’re building into Jesus by abiding in Him. It is only He who will produce genuine fruit that remains.

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