After 2000 years, how is He doing?

May 8, 2007 at 12:36 pm 3 comments

As far as I know the only instructions Jesus left his disciples, related to Church, were these words: I will build my church and the gates of hell will not overcome it. (Matthew 16)  There were no other instructions, no program ideas, no indication that more info would be coming as to leadership style, buildings, financing plans or church growth expectations. Pretty much all He said was “I will build it and darkness will not take it out.”

So, after 2000+ years, how is He doing?  What is there to show for His effort at the promise He left us–I will build my church?  How would you answer this question-how is He doing? 

I won’t even begin to summarize the catalog of problems in the church because we all know the problems.  But we can only come to one of two conclusions related to this question; either He is not doing the greatest job of building His Church or what we call church today is not really what He had in mind when He said He would build His Church.  Are those fair options?  What else can we deduct from what we see and what He said?

My detox period from church leadership is coming to an end and as it does I find myself more drawn to try and understand what it was He intended for His Church.  I have been pretty disillusioned by what I thought represented Jesus’ best effort because I focused on my own leadership failures and because of what I see in most institutional churches. The institutional church I knew was structured to benefit itself and leadership emphasises personal kingdom building as opposed to building His Kingdom. 

Disillusionment is the result when we look at the institutional church.  I suspect it is not at all what Jesus has been building these past 2000 years and I imagine He does not even look at what we think of as church when He evaluates His sovereign work.  When Jesus looks at His Church, the institutional concept is not what He sees.  I am not saying He doesn’t care about what we call church, nor are all institutional gatherings bad.  They have a place and a purpose.  The church we attend had a powerful meeting last Saturday and we came away from it enthused, blessed and motivated because the presence of God was powerfully evident.  But I am not sure it was Church.

I think we confuse what we call church with what Jesus was thinking of when He said He would build it.  The Church cannot be contained by structures or organizations and you can not leave this Church, unless you leave Jesus. 

So who is the Church?  We find the answer in Peter’s response to Jesus in Matthew 16 “you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  The Church Jesus had in mind was everyone who, along with Peter, understands their leader is Jesus and He is to be followed as Lord and Leader.  You cannot be a Church by following anyone else, you must follow Jesus and Jesus only–then you become the Church.

Community is essential for the Church.  The Father is community and wherever He is known, real community will break out among those who are His Children.  The Father, Son and Spirit have been living in true community for all of eternity.  In that Community they have enjoyed the joy and wonder of sharing love, peace and glory with each other. 

When we touch that kind of love we will be instinctively drawn toward connection with others who have experienced this same love and oneness.  We will want to be in relationship with people who have the same experience we have with the Trinity. 

As we begin to connect with others who are the Church we discover that alone we can only know God  in part, as if we are looking through a dark window.  But when we are in community with the Church that Jesus is building we discover there is fullness of wisdom and revelation.  Isn’t that what the Apostle Paul says about the church in Ephesians 1-“the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way”?

Try and imagine with me what it would look like if a community of people began to fulfill that incredible idea together.  As the Church comes together, the dark window becomes clearer as the full expression of the Father is allowed to break out in collective Wisdom and Revelation.

The reason why our view of God is so limited is often because the institutional church can only pull people together to see things in their way or from their prescribed perspective.  The institutions view through the darkened glass never gets clearer, instead what the institution does is to convince its adherents that their view is clearer than everybody else’s.

The Church Jesus is building is quite simple and it even gets built, occasionally, within the confines of an institutional church as people pursue a vibrant relationship with the Living God, through submission to the Lordship of Jesus.  The life of God does not flow through institutional structures it flows from the life of Jesus and only Jesus.  That is why I have said before, churches cannot be life giving, only Jesus can give Life.  Churches cannot give us purpose, only Jesus can give Purpose.  If our connection with church is to pump us up and get us through another week, then we have missed the Church.  The church can never be a substitute for personal relationship with the Father, through Jesus. 

The reason why the institutional church is not the expression Jesus built is because it does not encourage a personal relationship with Jesus, it does not encourage finding Life in Him, it promotes attendance, promotes meetings, promotes adherence to it’s doctrine, purpose, mission statement and values.  It promotes these things even to the exclusion of those who do not conform. 

When we have a personal, growing, vibrant relationship with Jesus, we are drawn together with others who are personally growing and living in Jesus and we begin to serve others together, to be built up by the collective gifting in wisdom and knowledge and a desire to draw others into the vibrant presence of the Father. 

That is the Church.  It is that Church that Jesus has been building for 2000+ years.  That Church is often obscured by the shadow of the institutional church but it is there.  It has to be there because Jesus promised to build His Church, not the church. 

Next-the Church Jesus is building-Family.

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Entry filed under: Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Jesus, Revelation, The Father, Thoughts.

Control or uncertainty. You live in a fifth wheel? (by Linda)

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sumijoti  |  May 22, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    You are so right. Our relationship with Jesus has to be intimate, personal and passionate, and there are way too many churches with a ‘Martha’ mentality instead of a “Mary’ mentality. Mary chose that good part, which would never be taken away from her, but Martha was too busy to sit at Jesus’ feet.

  • 2. Patti Blount  |  May 21, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    He is building the church on the inside of us as we desire and open up to His changing us and being conformed to His image. Jesus wants to be seen through us so clearly that the world will know He has come and is here, but we get in the way. Even when we can’t see the work He is doing, He is still building His church nonetheless. I stopped the building process several times today as I chose my way, instead of His, so the building is forstalled and lingers. I’m sure that is true of most everyone, but when we yield to His way ( which almost always involves serving others needs above our own) the Kingdom of God comes forth “beneath the soil,” so to speak. They one day the blade starts to appear. Oh, here comes the ear. Oh my gosh, the full corn in the ear!!! And what a church it is. She looks pretty enough to be a Bride.

  • 3. .justin  |  May 20, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    But we can only come to one of two conclusions related to this question; either He is not doing the greatest job of building His Church or what we call church today is not really what He had in mind when He said He would build His Church.

    good question… i’m thinking number 2!

    this post brings a little bit more freedom to the binds in my heart.

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