Christ-Centered Church Life – Is Jesus our Center? #2
- Does the Church really work in this modern age?
- What is God’s plan and purpose for the Church?
In my last post I asked the following searching questions:
“So why do you think the Church is becoming ineffective in society today?
I’m wondering if it’s because we are not the Church that God has envisioned us to be…
- Perhaps we are too organized-businesslike, and not ‘organic’-familylike enough…
- Could it be that we are not really a close knit family unit that really longs to meet together, to experience Jesus, enjoy one another, learn from each other, and minister to each other as they did in the book of Acts???
- Do we really expect Jesus to be in our midst – His ‘real’ presence … when we get together?
- After all, He said that where 2 or 3 are gathered in His name He would be in their midst, and
- That if 2 or 3 agreed on anything and asked as concerning Him He would agree with us and do it for us…
- Could it be that Jesus is not really our center???
- Maybe buildings, family, work, play, ministry, planning ministry, ‘prayer meetings’, or outreach have become our center…
Let’s look at a few ‘New Covenant’ Scriptures…
[Words in red are mine]
Heb 10:19-25 NLT
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.[in other words there is nothing to keep us out of God’s presence any more] 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house [which we are], 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him [this is not just praying, it is living in the consciousness of His Presence at all times – we are in really Him and He is really in us]. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. [if we are born again we have the privilege and the right-as ‘sons’- to be in God’s presence at all times]
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. [could this be part of God’s purpose for the Church? Are we doing this?]
Acts 2:38-47 NASU
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized [baptism is our initiation into Christ] in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off [future generations], as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. [this is how the Church should live]
43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. [could this be the kind of life God has planned for His Church in the world today???]
Col 2:8-15 NLT We are new creatures, free, totally forgiven, with a ‘Holy’ nature, Gods children, when we are placed in Christ at salvation – BELIEVE IT!!! And live in it without doubt or fear… no one can condemn us now!!!
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies [religious, theological, or worldly] and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ [we have the Spirit of Truth living in us to make us aware of these]. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. 10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority [when we live in unity we are complete as the Body of Christ and He protects us by His authority].
11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross [the devil cannot accuse us because Christ canceled all charges against us that resulted from our sinfulness].
Eph 3:8-12 NKJV
8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. [God’s eternal purpose for the Church is that we will reveal the many-faceted Wisdom, love, and Grace of God to the demonic realm and the world around us by being the ‘Body of Christ’ on the earth]
Col 1:9-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. [we are to be God’s Church, a living example of who and what we are all about in this world so that we can bring others out of the kingdom of darkness into Christ the light]
The Centrality of Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation;
16 because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17 He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.
19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,
20 and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And you were once alienated and hostile in mind because of your evil actions. 22 But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him— 23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith, and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a minister of it. [this is not something we can accomplish as individuals… we must be complete = united together in and through Christ so that we can be the revelation and presence of Him to the World of unbelievers…]
Does the Church really work in this modern age?
The western mindset is an individual mind-set rather than the eastern or family – group mind-set, the Bible was written from the eastern mind-set. The bible was written from God’s perspective, therefore that mind-set was what He planned for His humans to live in. When sin entered the human race it corrupted God’s creation and mankind has become more and more individualistic and self-centered as time has passed. Even the Eastern perspective has been corrupted by a general self-centeredness… We in the west tend to interpret the Bible according to our individualistic mind-set rather than God’s mind-set of family – group relationships. Therefore we have organized the Church in many instances following a business style, and we have developed plans and programs to accomplish what God intended to accomplish through close family-type relationships. We disciple and mentor from a top down perspective rather than following Jesus’ and the apostles’ example of one on one or having just a couple of disciples that we develop from personal example and individual training as we begin to understand our disciples Gifts and character type.
So instead of raising up disciples that are Kingdom citizens, that live by the ‘rule of God’ in their lifestyle, we let them ‘learn for themselves’ as individuals rather than parts of a larger family that have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and are now part of God’s family living to reveal God to those around us in the world.
What is God’s plan and purpose for the Church?
According to Acts 2:42-47 the Church is supposed to spend a LOT of time together: being the Family of God, studying the Word, praying, sharing the Lords Table, eating together, playing together, loving each other, reaching out to our neighbors together – being the revelation of God in our neighborhoods together… BUT we cannot do this as organized individuals, we must learn to do this as a collective Family group – God’s kind of collective family group…
So how do we get to be this way? By beginning to do things God’s way not ours. If we truly want the kind of results we see in the Word we must get it God’s way… Think about it… God’s results God’s way… we don’t have to be super-smart to understand that… the question is ‘do we really want what Jesus came to give us in this life?’ It will cost us… but we will only find fulfillment and joy in being what God says we can be…
Read Acts 2:42-47 with an ‘eastern mind-set’ and ask God how we can begin to do life this way…
Ask Him how He wants His Church to function and then read the Word from Acts to Jude to how He has revealed His plan and ways…
By the way I don’t necessarily believe that we need to abandon our churches to accomplish this, we just need to change some things, change our ‘western’ mindset when it comes to ‘doing church’ and begin to meet in our homes regularly as in the book of Acts… Yes it takes time and purpose, we will need to rearrange our lives to fit God’s Kingdom ways [isn’t that God’s plan for us?]… But I believe we will find it is well worth it to begin to experience our Christian life in fullness with all of the benefits.
What do you think?
Heb 10:23-25 NLT
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another [I believe that this is descriptive of meeting together in homes as in Acts 2], especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
With Love and Encouragement to All