Yesterday, I gave a message at our Outdoor Worship experience in McCall on the IDENTITY of a disciple. I posed what could be a threatening question but is a question that, nonetheless, is one that clarifies and recalibrates our understanding of WHO we are in Jesus as His Body. I started out with this story:
A few years back, some leaders in our faith community were exchanging ideas through email on some creative strategies on how to keep our spiritual focus on the mission of God. In the exchange, one of our leaders simply stated, “why don’t we CELL the church?” Unfortunately, when his autocorrect program on the email program he was utilizing “saw” the word “cell,” it “corrected” it to read SELL. So, the question was accidentally posted, “why don’t we SELL the church?” Well, I must say, I was surprised and (truthfully) excited for a bit that one of our leaders would be so bold. What is interesting though is that question DOES “clear the deck” on some preconceived ideas and long-held misunderstandings of what it means to be the Body of Christ in our time being faithful in our sphere to the call and mission of Jesus.
Imagine with me, what if we did sell? What would we do? What is the nature of the Church?
You see, answering that question will give you a clear opportunity to see what it means to own our identity as disciples of Jesus. Because the BOTTOM LINE is this – the church, the Body of Christ is an organism, alive and well, of people living the life of Jesus…being disciples and making disciples.
Faithfulness, Living in Grace and by the Holy Spirit, obedience, being the Body of Christ – those are the non- negotiables of “church” – of our faith gatherings. Buildings are icing on the cake. They are nice to have but not a non-negotiable – the early church lived happily and powerfully without them.
Here’s what would happen – when Jesus followers, filled with the Holy Spirit, moved by that which moved those early followers of Jesus 2000 years ago, we would:
LIVE – We would live our lives as followers of Jesus – we would be incarnational, embedded, indigenous – we wouldn’t be following personalities, historical movements, or pursuing membership in a religious We would be quickly discerning what it means to be a Christian in our time and place…as Followers of Jesus, that would be our passionate pursuit.
CONNECT – We would find ways to connect with others who follow the same In Ephesians 4, Paul says, we are of “one faith, one Spirit, one Father, one baptism”…in other words, ONE. It is in our spiritual DNA to seek out others who follow the same Lord.
INTEGRATE – We would seek out the other gifts of the Spirit because there is something that we are missing when we don’t have all the gifts, the other parts of the Body of Christ alive and well in our midst. We know that – if I’m a hand, I know I need more to be complete – YES, I am complete in Christ but I am also a part of HIS We need equipping and releasing in understanding who we are in Jesus and how God has “wired us up” to take our place, that significant place, within the economy of God and His “strategy” for mission in and through us.
INTENTIONAL – We would rely on ourselves for spiritual. There was a study done by a HUGE megachurch a few years back that showed that all that the church “does” for people does not create followers of Jesus but followers and “addicts” of church programs. Jesus calls EACH OF US to follow him – to be dependent upon him – we cannot create addictive organizations that feed off of making disciples into co-dependents. We must rather train, equip and release people to know experience and plumb the depths of God’s grace and love through their own growing relationship with Jesus. We must grow “self-feeders,” if you will…people who take responsibility for their own growth in Christ. Fellowship and being faithful in the context of community is important…creating spiritual co-dependents is not.
WORSHIP – GROW – SERVE – WE would find ways to worship, grow, serve – in other words, we would do something together to honor God in all we are and ..that’s in our spiritual DNA as well.
DISCIPLE – We would disciple others naturally – we would go and be amongst, people we knew, neighborhoods and meetings places in town we already inhabit and we would share our lives and gifts. We wouldn’t have to depend on “someone else” to do what Jesus is calling US to do.
DEPENDENT UPON JESUS – We would be ultimately more dependent upon the Holy Spirit and NOT co-dependent upon the church. The transfiguration story is an important paradigm in this regard – we got it wrong – Jesus NEVER INTENDED for us to set up “booths”…Jesus never intended for us to memorialize and attempt to repeat spiritual experiences. The rear view mirror in our cars is the size they are so that we can KNOW where we’ve been but also so that we can see where we are and where we are going. We are not to idolize our past otherwise our God becomes our past. Jesus is moving NOW…how is that true in our lives? When we know that, we know that Jesus is calling us again to a renewed sense of dependence upon him.
BUILD – You see, what would happen, and I say this in love, eventually, we would build another building and eventually get to the point where another pastor or leader or teacher or prophet would have to ask the same question we began ..
WE WOULD BE THE CHURCH INSTEAD OF GO TO CHURCH
This is a wake up call type of a question meant to snap us back to reality – just like the churches of Revelation who are called to return to their first love, resist compromising our Kingdom calling as well as to be and to be “HOT” for things of God, so we too must always embrace the fact that WE are the Body of Christ released into our world to make a difference in people’s lives to God’s glory! Are you GOING to church…or are you part of THE church, the one that is moving and active…the one that is the manifestation of the presence of Jesus in our lives?