A Return to Former Things

A Return to Former Things

“Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to remove your lampstand out of its place- unless you repent”

 

For the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, I would ask you to consider just what part of the following scenario is absent from your life. After you have arrived at this conclusion, would you please return to the question I’ve listed below.

Why do I neglect or refuse to live in the exact manner that the Bible describes as God’s Ekklesia, the very place and heart cry of my Lord Jesus Christ for our good and His glory.

It’s 6:00 am now, and once again I’ve decided to rise early to seek out Him who is my Life. Far from being an obligation, it has become the very desire of my heart to know Him more and throw myself once again upon His love and provision. I am learning to be daily dependent upon His abilities in contrast to my own. I’m eagerly looking forward to what my God intends to work into and through me today, and recognize the need I have to be prepared if He chooses to use me in any particular manner or place. I remind myself that I can only impart to others what God has worked into my own life in practice. I want to be used and therefore take some initiative as I seek out His will and purpose in faith. I’m truly excited about what this new day will bring in service to my God and my fellow man.

All over town are individual men and women who share the sentiments above. They too recognize their deep dependence upon Him and have made a conscious decision not only to begin the day focused upon Him, but with a desire to live for and in Him. If any profit is to be brought to their Lord and the local saints, it will take a purposeful setting of one’s sights upon the Jerusalem which is from above. As part of a spiritual household of faith, each member has a responsibility to be both spiritually fit and ready to serve others as a result of what God supplies.

An hour or two later some of the saints are off to their work station. Far from being a burden, they view it as just another means to impact the lives of the people they have met there. This is enhanced by the prayers of the saints for those in that particular work place. God provides the resources necessary for living and often a little more to help out others brothers or sisters in need. They need not worry about how much they make as in all circumstances the saints would gladly supply any lack if there be one.

Other saints have already met for breakfast, prayed together and are seeking God for His direction for their lives that day. Far from independent individuals trying to find something to do, they overview the previous night’s prayer requests and find ways in which to help the saints. A couple of guys decide to work on a believer’s car while a group of ladies decide to visit some inquisitive neighbors. Some of the younger people have decided to meet some neighbor kids on the local soccer field in an attempt to share their lives with them.

All over town individual saints are learning to be led by the Spirit. There are learning what Jesus meant when He said; nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. It has become obvious that if they are truly to become the new wine to those about them that many of the old things simply have to go. They are no more necessary, nor consistent with Jesus’ new and living way.

Each day the individual believers emphasize what God has made the priority in His Ekklesia, His household of faith. Daily the saints aim to serve one another, and that can only be accomplished to the degree that they know one another. Far from the past habits of cultivating times and meetings for fellowship, these saints are daily in the habit of encouraging one another from house to house, making sure none are hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. They are not unaware of the enemies’ tactics, nor their responsibility to look after one another. These times are far from just hanging out or talking about vain things, they have a purpose, a purpose that is both God ordained and Spirit led.

Daily from house to house, from the park to the baseball field or the restaurant in between, the saints are moving with purposeful intent. That purpose is always beyond themselves, it is geared toward three very specific things. First and foremost, the saints strive to develop deeper friendships with their family members. There are innumerable ways to pursue this, the most obvious a determination to spend time one with another. Due to a few of the saints opening up their homes for fellowship, there is always somewhere to go for family interaction. Needless to say fellowship could not, nor would not ever be cancelled. Other saints use various social media as a means to stay in touch and let the local believers know what is happening and where. Not one day goes by wherein a local saint, regardless of race or age is uninvited into our lives and fellowship. We find all those former divisions reprehensible these days. We learn as God has commanded to have the same care for one another.

On frequent occasions the saints meet to share good things with each other. An opportunity to pray with a brother in need, a meal shared in Jesus’ remembrance or a message from one of the brothers. Freedom exists here, there is no one more important than another, no one directing our service but Jesus Himself. At any time or anyplace a word might be shared, a prayer uttered, a healing requested or a time of confession ensue. We have chosen to live as Jesus being our Head, He and He alone directing the individual and corporate affairs of His Ekklesia. He really is alive, amongst us and entirely willing to do so. We only need to let Him do so.

Secondly and also important is our care for those outside of the faith. We have a responsibility for these people, regardless of who they are, where they live or what they have done. We want to be more than good neighbors, we desire to lay down our lives for them as well. We aim to exhibit our love for each other before them, in order that they may know that the Father has sent Jesus for them. It is only in this that others shall fall down and declare that Jesus is surely amongst us. We don’t invite them into our “meetings” but into our lives. It is only in becoming as a living sacrifice that they shall desire to see Jesus. Once again, we refuse to organize or structure these into events or separate “ministries.” All ministry is a simple outflow of what the Spirit has worked into us as individuals. Our calling is to incorporate what God has given us in the time and place He directs and with those He has called us into fellowship with. It’s really that simple.

Lastly and most importantly is the reason we must live in the manner described above. This is the manner Jesus is building His Ekklesia. If for some reason we refuse to accept this or exemplify this life in practice, how can we possibly have the results of the promises we have been given by God? Is it realistic to think or believe that we can alter what God’s intentions were and are for His Ekklesia without repercussion?

Here are just a few consequences of our failure to follow Jesus as Head of His Ekklesia and devise our own methodologies in His place.

If Jesus is really in our midst always;

He will be leading the saints individually and corporately. This includes when we meet, where we meet, how many people meet, how we fellowship, who sings or what we sing, who teaches or how we are taught, who reads or how we read. His leading would also include where we go, who we visit, when we visit, and how the individual’s members of His body interact one with another.

If Jesus is really the Head of any given local ekklesia;

There cannot be anything present that exhibits a sectarian attitude. That attitude or spirit would constitute anything we consider in the fellowship as “ours.” Our “church” cannot be both ours and Jesus.’ Our building denotes a sectarian attitude toward other local believers. Our “pastor” or “priest” denotes a special person above and beyond the other saints. Our “service,” our “beliefs,” our “doctrinal statement” and every other “our” is not exemplifying Jesus as Head of His Ekklesia. The very decision to make these statements or create these things is altogether foreign to New Testament Christianity. The only person who has the right to make assembly decisions is Jesus Himself. Men make decisions when men are in control and Jesus is viewed as an absentee landlord.

Think for a brief minute would you please. Just how much of everything we “do” for God really needs to be reexamined if not entirely abandoned?

Mens decisions and their consequences

Have a name for “our” group and often advertise that name in newspapers, on signs and out front of our building. This purposefully divides ourselves from other local saints and give the appearance to our neighbors that we are different than “them.”

Appoint leaders for “our” group of believers. These leaders often take liberties that God has prohibited. Making decisions “for” the local saints is one way.

Leaders form their own groups separate from the saints; elders’ meetings and “pastors” conferences etc. Prove by their actions they are not like everyone else in the assembly but are indeed “separate” or different.

Leaders “create” the form a service will take. Any routine destroys the interactive fellowship and spontaneity of the saints’ gifts.

Leaders decide who will speak and when. Limits the saints to certain “gifted” men

Uninterrupted teaching times. Teachers rarely accountable for what they say. Judgments come later if at all.

Emphasize “meetings,” “schedules,” “days,” and “times.” Hinders if not entirely prevents a Spirit led fellowship and actions.

Position men for certain responsibilities, ie; worship leader, study leader or teacher. None of this is necessary and can exalt men as “over” the other saints.

Have certain men “up front” teaching other believers. Is hardly reminiscent of a family environment. Does a father teach his family from a pulpit?

MAKING DECISIONS FOR JESUS OR ANY OF THE SAINTS. Isn’t that what all of the above exemplifies? Who is making these decisions which are all contrary to Biblical Christianity? JESUS IS NEITHER HEAD NOR IN AUTHORITY where these decisions are made. It’s not just the fact that man makes them, they are not God’s way- they are the inventions of men.

 

Is this true? Can Jesus actually retain His authority and Headship over His Ekklesia when men decide who, what, where and how Christian fellowship is to function?

Is it really Jesus who is telling us week after week to meet in the same place, have a choreographed service, preplan the exact time frame and have a few men decide what is and is not permissible for the other saints during this time.

The above sides of the chart above contain opposites. That is obvious for one simple reason: God’s ways are not our ways. Everything man does (above) is the opposite of what God has already decreed. It is far more consistent with man’s “church” (a creation of men’s imagination) and altogether different from what Jesus is building (His Ekklesia). Can we really justify continuing to pursue those things so foreign to what New Testament Christianity entails?

From the beginning it was not so. It is not so now. Just because the past 1800+ years have been littered with religious tradition and become commonplace amongst us, that is no excuse to persist in what God never intended from the beginning.

Will it be difficult to change, yes it will be. Will there be a cost to change, without a doubt. Will the changes be worth it, absolutely. There are very specific reasons why despite what we read in our Bibles, we have yet to enter into many of the marvelous promises of God. Would you keep yourself from the very best He has always intended for you? Shrink not, as you recognize anew the promises of God as being Yes and Amen.

As an individual                   As a local ekklesia

Know Him                             His household of faith

Live for and in Him                            House to house

Led by the Spirit                                 Same care one for another

New wine                                               New wineskins

Share all good things                                         Share all good things

Lay down our lives                                            Lay down our lives

= New and living way                                          =They see Jesus

 

When sinful men observe Christians in a new and living way…they’ll want to see Jesus, and indeed they have, and indeed they will.

 

-the end