With gratitude to Gayle Erwin, author of THE JESUS STYLE
Biblical – Church [capital C] is the natural result when people are yielded to the nature of the very present Jesus.
Cultural – church [lower case c] is what happens when people organize “for God” or maybe even for other purposes.
We make a willful choice, albeit, possibly an uneducated one – Church or church – Be the Church or do church. Though we may be coerced into “serving,” being busy showing our works for the Lord, the alternate choice must be articulated and modeled – to be a functioning part of a human Organism serving exclusively as the expression of Jesus’ nature in the natural, flesh & blood, time & space world. The Body of Christ is a human organism irrevocably pure and perfectly coordinated and respondent to the Mind of Jesus. His Body is being enlarged every moment as the gravity of His Spirit’s power draws human beings toward complete abandonment to Him. The question we who “do church” must ask – Is He able to openly and fully do that equipping and building through what we are doing? or does He have to do that somewhere else?
What we call “leadership,” in Jesus’ view are messenger-slaves given by Him to His Body to facilitate the fruitful function that Jesus made them for. [Clearly, from Scripture, we are created to glorify God, which means in literal English – to bring the supernatural, spiritual reality of God into the common, everyday, natural world by our personal, attentive obedience.] In Paul’s presentation of the mystery unwrapped by Jesus, these messenger-slaves are “to equip the Body, for the work of the ministry.” Teaching, training and facilitating each one in giving their specifically designed area of service to the members of the Body in immediate connection with them in order to build-out the nature of Jesus in living stones (quoting Peter). In John’s words, “If all the things that Jesus did (does) were to be written, the world could not contain it.” John 21:25
Good honest question:
How do I as an individual discover my place, function or member-ship [Bodypart-ship] in Jesus’ Body?
Jesus “speaks” to us by the agency of His indwelling Spirit – the only HOLY Spirit – through encounter with His Word. Not man’s words from man’s perspective, but Jesus’ living, pure & powerful Word. Men, in surrender to the Holy Spirit, are compelled to write or speak, but the ear of the Jesus’ Body is tuned to and hears Jesus’ voice by the agency of the Holy Spirit.
When Scripture is read what do I hear? If I am listening with the Spirit’s ears, I will hear Jesus say something. He will be pointing out something specific about His nature. We’ve all said at some point, “That Scripture jumped off the page at me!”
Here’s the next good honest question:
What am I to do when I hear Him speak to me?
Let’s walk through the simple interaction that is going to always be running in the background if I want to give God what He is looking for. Please, be aware, it is one thing to discover it, talk about it, write a book about it. It is quite another thing to practice and install this until it is who I am.
Be on the lookout for 3 things:
1. What was just revealed about the nature of Jesus?
2. What does that revelation about Jesus require of me in relation to Him?
3. What does that revelation about Jesus require of me in relation to others?
Put it in the form of action points:
1. Identify Jesus
2. Based on His revealed identity, acknowledge the conflict in my nature and what is necessary to identify with Him
3. Based on His revelation, acknowledge the conflict in my nature and what is necessary to identify myself with His view and agenda in relationship with the people around me – starting with those in my household
This is not a prescription for private meditation or silent prayer times. This is all to be practiced openly in the congregation. That is what the Body gathers for. Yes, in honest interaction with Jesus, with the determination that what He has just challenged me with, He intends to install in me/US. That gets done by the open expression through me and the others gathered, in the sight and hearing of the rest of the Body. “Where there are 2 or 3 gathered in My name, there I am in the midst.” As we open the Alabaster box of the personal interaction between me & Him, the whole house is filled with the fragrance and the living Jesus rises up from the center of our focus on Him, a projection of His own presence in each heart, to be the broken bread and poured out wine to challenge, feed and exercise His whole Body together.
His nature and His Holy Spirit are present, based on His Word in Scripture, to empower me to be a functioning part His body, following and bringing His intentions into active reality through our sacrificed-but-alive physical bodies.
“Guided by His eye.” Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.
Practice must be done openly in the congregation so that all the members share and are equipped and strengthened by the manifold aspects of His work in the individual hearts opened to them through open conversation with Jesus. Obviously, clear parameters must be understood and lovingly obeyed by all present for this to work to the benefit of all. They are these:
When you have something to say to Jesus,
1. Raise your head to give face & voice to everyone
2. Speak loud enough for all to hear &
3. Say it in a short phrase.
That’s the do’s.
This is not the appropriate time for,
1. Composing prayers or
2. Preaching or prophesying to the congregation
It is appropriate, when facing Jesus, only to speak to Him and interact with Him. He’ll take care of the Body as we just take care of the business He puts in our hand.
There are times for preaching & prophesy, but I don’t think we have been taught well enough and given enough supervised opportunity to function as the Body to know those appropriate times. Most can’t even acknowledge that, where encouraged, our usual “prophecy,” where encouraged, is too full of our own pet agendas and our love of the sound of our own voice to be the New Testament version. It is an awesome and humbling thing to be in God’s presence and as Tozer said, “Lord, how great is our dilemma! In Thy Presence silence best becomes us, but love inflames our hearts and constrains us to speak. Were we to hold our peace the stones would cry out; yet if we speak, what shall we say? Teach us to know that we cannot know, for the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Let faith support us where reason fails, and we shall think because we believe, not in order that we may believe.”
When we “speak the word of God,” whether preaching, teaching or prophesying, it will be confirmed and harmonize with the whole of the revelation of God through His Word. Only in an open interaction with the gathered Body can the functional reality and discipline of that be learned and practiced. His “Word became flesh and walked among us.” He means to do that in the flesh of His Body, you and me, here and now.
Installation of something new requires a time of continual, diligent, repetitive effort. Reminding ourselves to make a list of 3 points and fill in each point every time we encounter the Word in any form or media, will transform the life of the Body, for the goal is to turn it into an ongoing open conversation with Jesus. And that flowing interaction with Jesus’ personally communicated intentions and steps, will naturally result in such a coordinated orchestration that the whole world will bristle and react to His Body’s every move in the Earth. It will just happen! Ready hearts will respond and be drawn into the life of Body, because they won’t see dogma or format or corporations. They will see Jesus looking at them through our eyes. They will feel His Hand when we touch them. They will hear the Voice of their Shepherd when we speak, compelled by His love for them by contact with us.
It will quickly become apparent that what is happening is not just a clarification of who you are and what God is doing in you, but it is the activation of your participation in what Jesus is doing in and for the people around you. What He is planting in you becomes the storehouse and supply to those He has given you to.
As my body becomes a “living sacrifice,” I am the package for the gift He is giving. God will knit together the lives of those willing for such a life and show Himself through the manifold work He is doing in their lives – openly. Why? Because we are openly engaged in that work and “discerning the Lord’s Body.” 1Cor 11:29 (God’s definition of COM-UNION)
THE CHURCH IS WHAT HAPPENS and everything else we do grows out of that.