Join The Movement

 
When you think of “church” what do comes to mind? Do you think of the church as an organization or as an organism?
 
An organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose. It’s about structure and order. An organism is a whole with interdependent parts, a living thing. Based on what the New Testament teaches and demonstrates concerning the church, you would definitely believe the church is an organism. The church is a living system.
 
The Apostles never viewed the church as an organization. Instead, they viewed it as an organism — a body of Christ. The church was intended to be the manifestation, extension, and representation of Jesus here on earth after His ascension into heaven. See 1 Corinthians 12:27-28; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18.
 
So if the church is “body of Christ” it should also be influential and irresistible like Jesus. So why is church so resistible in today’s culture? Why has the church seemingly lost its influence? The answer: the church has drifted from its intended identity.
 
Read: Matthew 16:13–18. What we find in this passage is the first time Jesus uses the word Church. Jesus predicted he would build it and that nothing, including death, would stand in his way. But something else of extraordinary significance was communicated during this exchange. Something that the English translation of the Bible misses. Specifically, the meaning of the term translated church.
 
Greek term: ekklesia means a gathering of people called out for a specific purpose. Ekklesia never referred to a specific place, only a specific gathering. See 1 Peter 2:4-5.
 
If the Greek word means gathering, why doesn’t our English Bibles just say ‘gathering’? Where did the word church come from?
 
“Church” Origins: Constantine, Roman religion, adoption of pagan worship themes, basilicas built in honor of martyrs, “kirche”
 
The German term kirche and the Greek term ekklesia refer to two very different ideas. A kirche is a location. An ekklesia is a purposeful gathering of people. You can lock the doors of a kirche. Not so with the ekklesia of Jesus.
 
This shift in vocabulary signaled a dramatic shift in emphasis and direction. The church was no longer a grassroots movement built upon the simple understanding of who Jesus is. The church became synonymous with a location.
 

Over the years people exchanged being the church with going to the church.

 
This transition in thinking proved dangerous to the effectiveness and health of the church. This shift also led to an era of church history that can only be described as horrific (crusades). While it’s amazing that the church survived the persecution of the first century, it may be more amazing that it survived the institutionalization and corruption of the centuries that followed.
 
But it did survive. Jesus promised it would. As it turned out, the kirche of man could not contain the ekklesia of Jesus. From the first century through the twenty-first century there has always been a remnant, a group who refused to substitute kirche for the ekklesia of Jesus. There have always been and will always be followers of Christ who refuse to define church in terms of location alone.
 
Why? The church is a movement with a divinely inspired mission. The church is not a monument to maintain history, it is a movement that multiplies hope. It is not an organization for Christ that dispenses information, instead it is an organism of Christ (body) which brings transformation to our world.
 
From the very beginning (Acts 2) the church was irresistible. See Acts 9:31.
 
What is church? It is a movement of people called out for a singular purpose: to know Christ and make him known. The goal of the church is to be irresistible and influential, just like Jesus.
 
The church is not a location, it is a vocation. Christ intended His church to be a movement engaging our culture with the hope of the gospel.
 

The church is not a place to escape the world, it is a movement through which we engage the world.

 

Read more...

Find Your Place, Do Your Part

The Church grows healthy and effective when you find you place and do your part within its mission.

 
I will break this passage down into several short statements that reveal our responsibility before God on behalf of His church — it’s mission and health.
 

A position to assume — See Ephesians 4:1.

Paul was a prisoner because of his testimony of Christ as Savior and Lord. He gave his life to making Christ known. See 2 Timothy 1:8. We, like Paul, choose to place our lives under Christ’s command. Christ’s love, grace, and mercy has captured our hearts. It is from that position, His prisoner by choice, that we can rightly serve Him, His mission, and His church.
 

A way to live and serve — See Ephesians 4:1.

The Greek word for “worthy” refers to a balance, as on scales. Believers are to live “in balance” with their calling. How they act should match what they believe. The calling Paul speaks about is your salvation. See 1 Peter 2:9. If you are saved by Christ, you are called. All of us are called to live our lives in a manner worthy of our salvation. We don’t just give Jesus our heart, we give him our very lives. Paul now goes on to describe what the life “worthy of our calling” looks like.
 

An attitude to adopt —See Ephesians 4:2-3.

These are not different attitudes we try to adopt. All of these are a product of our new attitude in Christ. See Ephesians 4:20-24. God’s work in our lives by the Spirit is always an attack on the ego (self) to bring it into submission by choice to God and then to repurpose and redirect its interests.
 
Humility — focuses on one’s thinking; it means “lowliness of mind” as opposed to arrogance or conceit. Christ expected his followers to be humble not only before God but toward one another. Humility means putting Christ first, others second, and self last. See Philippians 2:3-5.
 
Gentleness — Humility is an attitude, and gentleness is the action it produces. Gentle people do not attempt to grab for positions of importance or assert authority over others.
 
Patience — the ability to handle one another’s faults and failures and refusing to avenge wrongs.
Tolerant Love — Bearing with one another in love is the action side of patience. It emphasizes the willingness to forgive and involves empathizing with the other person.
 
Unity — True unity among believers follows naturally from the characteristics described in verse 2. Such unity is only possible when the Holy Spirit acts in believers’ lives—the Spirit starts and sustains oneness among believers. See Ephesians 4:4-6. Paul uses the picture of the Trinity (Spirit, Son, Father) to exemplify the unity within God that God desires within His church.
 

An individual gift to exercise — See Ephesians 4:7.

All of Paul’s passages dealing with spiritual gifts and the body of Christ stress the diversity of the church in the midst of its unity as one body. The church holds a unique blend of unity AND individuality. Every believer has a gift; no one has all the gifts. In this way, believers need one another in the church as they seek to accomplish the work of the kingdom.
 
Next, Paul lists some of these “gifts” or “graces” that were given the Church. The list given here is by no means complete (for other types of gifts see Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12).
 
See Ephesians 4:11-12. Christ gave leaders to the church for a very specific purpose — to equip Christ’s followers within that local community to exercise their individual gifts. One of the rallying cries of the Reformation was that every member of the Body of Christ is a minister. See 1 Peter 2:9; 4:10.
 
Do you know what the best spiritual gifts are? The best spiritual gifts are the ones you already have! But it’s more than just having gifts; we must find them and then use them! The ones you put to work in serving Christ’s mission.
 

A goal to achieve — See Ephesians 4:12-16.

The goal is that the body of Christ, His Church, may be built up, united in our faith, united in our understanding of Christ, maturing believers who are full of Christ and serving His mission in our individually assigned way.
 
 

Read more...