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Posts Tagged ‘building the church’

I’ve heard many people use the first century church (described in the book of Acts) as the model for what the Body of Christ ought to be today.  And while there are certainly principles that we can derive from those early believers, I don’t sense that they were ever meant to be the prototype for the church.  As you read through the New Testament, you see that they immediately began to have many of the same kinds of problems that we have today (e.g. arguments about doctrines, rituals, & traditions; factions, sexual immorality within the church…), and more importantly, they never became the glorious bride that Jesus returns for.

 

All of the metaphors and analogies used in scripture point to a relationship between an initiator and a responder (e.g. a head & a body, a groom & His bride, a master & His servant).  So it follows that the model for the church must be rooted in someone who demonstrated this right relationship with God.  And though the Bible is filled with stories of people who got it right in one situation or another, there is only One character who walked this out perfectly within their lifetime.  Jesus said, ““Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19).”  I believe this is the model for every believer, and ultimately for the “Body of Christ”.  Anything less will likely result in another structure that the Lord needs to knock down.

 

Jesus said that “He would build His church”, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.  And in my years of following Him, I’ve come to believe that He means this quite literally.  Since the church that we have built in His name doesn’t seem nearly that powerful, here are some thoughts on how “He” means for it to happen.

 

  • He draws us to Himself – He may use people in this process, but it is ultimately a supernatural transaction between Him and the person He is reaching out to (John 6:44).
  • If we succumb to His drawing, He reveals Himself to us.  He told Peter that He would build His church on the foundation of those who’ve had the revelation of who He really is (Matthew 16:18).
  • Once we’ve come to understand who He is, He then reveals to us who we were made to be.  We were never meant to simply be the by-product of our experiences and upbringing.  He had something in mind when He knit us together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), and in scripture, this revelation of our identity is often accompanied by a name or title change (e.g. Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, “the least of these” became a “Mighty Man of Valor”, Jacob became Israel, Simon became Peter, Saul became Paul).
  • With our identities firmly rooted in what He says about us, He begins to allow us to see others through His eyes, and with His heart.  This quite naturally draws us into fellowship with other believers, and into community with those who are lost.
  • As we allow the Lord to weave our lives and ministries together, it is His Holy Spirit that orchestrates the unity (1 Corinthians 12:13), and holds everything together (Colossians 1:17).

 

I believe that if we miss any of these steps or attempt to accomplish these things in our own strength, we will continue to fall short of becoming the “church” that Jesus spoke of.

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