Is your church functioning on earth as it is in heaven?
Does your church or group provide you with a warm, satisfying and safe life, surrounding you with loving brothers and sisters who daily expose their vulnerable underbelly's and abandon their own comforts zones for you, and you for them?
And do you experience that deep abiding friendship, camaraderie and soul refreshing communion among Gods family, that heals your hurts, calms your fears, challenges your fleshly impulses and melts your heart toward Gods refining fire, for which you would rather have your teeth pulled without anaesthetic than lose?
Do you move as one body, feel as one body and have an inseparable bond of daily love and service to all among you, that overflows naturally to those outside your circles of fellowship?
And, finally, do your leaders live a daily life of example, demonstrating the power of Gods love and holiness among you, laying down their lives for the sheep, which is the hallmark of shepherds appointed by God?
If you said yes, then you are among the richest and happiest people on the continent, but I suspect your'e also as rare as hens teeth, if statistics and anecdotal evidence suggests. The problem of course is that what I just described is a poor explanation of Gods ultimate intention for the church; Jesus body, and future bride.
Sadly, the great chasm that exists in our culture between what scripture records as the everyday norm of the early church, and what we actually have today, is possibly the most convincing argument for why every wind of doctrine and practice exists among us. And in a sick, self perpetuating way, its probably the reason we have the great chasm in the first place. Its a lose/lose scenario if you call it honestly.
But we can get "it" back though.
Our family and fellowship had it for 30 years, until we we tricked ourselves out of "it". "IT" was a bountiful table in the wilderness. IT is LIFE overflowing with joy amidst hardship, sorrow or persecution, and the power of Jesus resurrection conquering sin, self and Satan among our families and neighbours.
IT is in the big scheme of life, hilarious liberty amidst a culture enslaved by sin, and IT is Him living among and within us, in visible communion with us all.
IT is the enveloping, abiding and joyful life of Jesus indwelling me and us together, leading us together daily, minute by minute at times, through darkness to His light and smile, to the celestial city of His never ending physical presence at life's end or worlds end.
Now of course, if you do happen to be part of such a rare group, then you're probably a church, in the 1st century church kind of way.
When Jesus prayed that Gods will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, did it occur to you that He was expecting the church to operate on earth as it does in heaven?
And if you do have this kind of life, whether you think of yourself as a church or not, then there's one universal and timeless quality that others will see, and that will draw them to you, and that quality is family.
If the lines between (biological, married and extended) family and Gods family are blurring, or blurred to the degree that loving caring and sharing of daily life together is hard to differentiate, then you have the makings of being a church. Family idolatry cant survive in an environment that places church family on par with blood family, and mature brethren in Christ care for you as your own natural brethren should or would.
I'm not talking abou some elite, utopian church, but just the every day garden variety of church.
The kind of church family where Jesus Christ unreservedly indwells and expressed Himself through each believer, drawing all men to Himself, including one another, and where all members honour one another as Jesus brethren.
Sound too good to be true?
Don't you know that heaven isn't run by working stiffs, or ascended prophets and pastors, but rather, His rest underlies and empowers all that goes on there?
Have you tried to get it, failed, and given up believing that His love in our hearts is able to accomplish this in your life?
Trying is the enemy of trusting.
But abiding in His presence, depending upon Him for minute and detailed wisdom and direction in all matters, is where our efforts must be exerted.
And I'm not talking to "leaders" only but to all who know Christ.
Abiding in His presence, trusting in His ability and sharing His life to others is a full time job if done His way, and though its hard and costly work, you will feel rested in your spirit, and besides its just what Jesus told us He wants us to do.
We together, as Adams kind, are the problem, and I'm not sure which Pied Piper originally tricked us into thinking that we could help God fix each other or ourselves, but we need to rethink that failed plan.
Among us, its been our experience that when we took ourselves, our kids, our kingdom investments or our church too seriously; when we trusted our own integrity past the point of self distrust, that we weakened or destroyed the very things we were furiously trying to build or save. We deified ourselves by trusting in ourselves, and demoted God to our servant and personal genie in a bottle.
The bottom line?
Give up trying to fix or save anyone or anything.
And YES, I am aiming directly at the golden cow of evangelism, as sharing Jesus with others has come to be known. If you and your group can find the courage to give up lending God a hand, you will find, maybe for the 1st time in your walk with God, His empowering rest for your soul and peace for your mind. His peace comes upon us by casting all our cares, even the ones we are responsible for, upon Him, and REFUSING to take them back when they start screaming at us for attention.
For the most evangelized nation on planet Earth, don't you find it strange how there are millions of Christians in North America, single or in families, who are alone, wandering and unfulfilled, lacking joy, purpose, meaningful connections and an eternal abiding sense of Jesus presence.
I'm pretty sure that we've wrecked our own house by trying too hard to be faithful and biblical, or be our brothers keeper, ensuring we kept him in order.
I'm convinced that in our pursuit of the truth, we've fooled ourselves into thinking that its important to not only have the truth, but to be right about the truth we have, but being right is a powerful drug.
Our reaction or lack thereof, to problems, the kind of problems that are woven into our nature as humans, may be the chief cause of our calamity, and the main reason we are losing our culture, and our testimony as salt and light.
In circles where we travel, we slowly and gradually lost the life I described above, as a few influential ones in our family like church reacted with fear and anger to the usual life challenges that come along with living Godly in Christ Jesus. By the time the rest of us realized that it was just a test, and that we didn't have to fail, it was too late. In spite of patiently and respectfully speaking truth to power, and all who would hear, we branded ourselves as malcontent's, usurpers and even heretics. Strange, that by encouraging others to hope, love and faith, we are feared and seen as dangerous, and ultimately cast out, but we've since found others who have suffered likewise at the hands of Gods short sighted people, mostly whom are in the hands of false or foolish shepherds.
So, the question I have is this: How desperately do you want to see church operating on earth as it is in heaven?