Yesterday, I had 3 interactions with separate brothers. The first, I met early for a nice cup o’ coffee. This was our first real time in being together since he and his wife have been introduced to us through one of the local elders here in McKinney. We swapped stories about our faith journey and just talked a bit about “where we are now” and some about “what we are seeing.” It was a great time! From getting to know this brother a bit, I began to realize that there is a heart in him for the Kingdom.
During lunch, a brother from the Eastern seaboard called me to just check in and tell me, “he loved me.” That’s always a great call to receive! As we spoke, he gave me an update on the brothers/sisters in their area and I recognized a common thread in our conversation from my early morning conversation.
Then, in the early evening, I received another phone call from a different brother across the country. “Brother, I have to share with you what I am seeing.” he said.
Sure enough, it was the same thread that was contained in both of my two previous conversations.
What the first brother was desiring to see and what has drawn him into relationship with our community in McKinney, is the Church learning to live in the Kingdom. The other two brothers spoke of the same issue and how they are experiencing the Family of God operate effectively outside of “gatherings”, “services” or “meetings”.
Man, all three conversations served as an extreme blessing to me. I was (and am now) so grateful for experiencing what we consistently see/experience on a local level and what is emerging nationally.
I guess the reason for my gratitude is that I know where we were 15 years ago, the migrations and transitions we have made along the way and the Goodness and Faithfulness of God all along the way. Considering the entire process breeds a sense of enthusiasm for what awaits ahead as we continue to forge on!
When I take into account the swims through mainline denominational form, then mega-church structure, then apostolic networking culture, then the “house church” expression rolling over into “organic” versions of the same and, then, you mix in a few seasons of “what-the-heck-are-we-doing-now” wilderness experiences, I realize that there have been three consistent features through all of those metamorphoses.
1. Father’s Faithfulness to continue to lead us forward into His Purpose & to continue to reveal Himself as He desires to be known.
2. Relationships forged according to Father’s Purpose and that are completely symbiotic and life-enhancing in nature. People are equipped to function – just like scripture says, “until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15-16; The Message) Developing maturity in brothers and sisters or forming Christ in them triggers the homothumadon of the Kingdom!
3. A lifestyle of repentance lived by the people involved in those relationships. (There is quite a bit that goes into that and I don’t have the space here. Basically, it is a willingness to change your mind about God, others, yourself and what you are currently “doing” – and a willingness to yield to God’s power to bring transformation. Jesus’ message from the word go was, “Repent, the Kingdom is at had.” Maybe we can look at that in a later post.)
We have learned, there is ALL the difference in the world between asking, “How do we DO church?” and “How do we, as the Church, enter and function or live daily in the Kingdom?” I would submit to you that the insignificant progress and impact that the church has experienced in the course of my lifetime has been a by-product of well-intentioned men seeking to determine how we can do this thing for God rather than realizing that we are born again to see and enter the Kingdom we have been translated into through His Dear Son!
Such a thought provokes me to incredible wonder and compels me to search out the things that Father has already prepared for those that love Him and are called according to His Purpose. The exciting thing about it is that such a concept also moves others around me to do the same. I am not in pursuit of such Kingdom-minded things by myself. I simply seem to amazingly, miraculously begin to bump shoulders with them as we are in pursuit of Him. And, choosing rather to stop along the way in order to build a form or memorial and/or obsess around a particular thing, (doctrine, manifestation, cause, calling, etc.) we continue to pursue Christ – not some ethereal, mystical Christ but the Christ in each other the hope of glory that is able to be seen, heard, expressed and transacted as the relationship provides. The further we make it on the Way, the more precious and vital my brothers/sisters become to me.
Now, I will be the first to tell you, His Life Produces Form! However, we are not called to build a form and then ask Him to bless it or inhabit it with His Life. The moment we fall in love with our particular form or ways of doing things, we have reverted back to an Old Testament mentality and revealed our fallen, idolatrous nature. We all like something we can point to and say, at least to ourselves, if not others, “There’s God!” Without a doubt, as the Church pursues further entrance into understanding and functioning yielded to the rule of God and the Head of His Church, there will be a Corporate Expression that emerges. Yet, mature believers understand that we are related to an order which is higher than anything on this earth or of the natural creation and how it looks today may not be how it looks as soon as tomorrow!
In each of the 3 aforementioned conversations I had yesterday, each brother mentioned previous experiences within a “system” and how zealously they performed their duties within that construct. Their state of being in such a predicament was one of dissatisfaction and knowing there had to be more to “it” (God, church, faith, etc.) than what they were experiencing. I, for one, am thankful that they had the spiritual fortitude to leave what they knew and pursue God outside of their pre-existing form. Chances are, if they had not done so, I would never had the blessing of their relationship, love and encouragement. My life and faith journey are richer, fuller and more meaningful by their involvement in my life and the more we all get to see, experience and know our Father.
The more we see and experience, the more we surrender pre-conceived notions, religious, man-made traditions, non-essential doctrinal dogma and ecclesiological arguments that only serve to separate and divide. The closer we get to Him, the less options we have to live according to the Kingdom and………….to love Him and to love one another! And, that is something that Paul said we should investigate and pursue!
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
Keep your peace!