His Church, His Mission and Us!
Community is breaking down in society. What seems to have replaced true communities are loose collections of individuals that have similar interests in sport, career, political or social areas. Marriage has broken down and so family life has eroded which in turn has weakened communities. The spiritual dimension of life has been all but lost to most. Many complain about the lack of meaning in their lives but don’t know what’s missing.
Community is all about life, living and passing what’s good from one generation to the next. It’s done by moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts, friends and relatives. It’s done by all these loving people growing and maturing together at different rates but always in the same direction – towards strengthening their ties to one another and to God. This is the wisdom of community.
Without God none of it works or lasts because God designed and created men and women; “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) God defined marriage and so formed the basis of family; “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) And we all know that the wreck of the first family; Adam and Eve and their sons Cain and Abel resulted from a breakdown of their relationship with God culminating in horrific domestic violence; “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7) Without God things fly apart because no one is accountable to anyone for their actions.
We have talked about the marriage triangle with Jesus at one point and husband and wife at the other two. We see that as each spouse draws closer to Jesus, husband and wife draw closer to each other. We have looked at the basic shape of community that church brings basic family into – Husband, wife and church in a triangle of community relationship. This relationship can be sacred or worldly depending on the church’s connection to God which isn’t necessarily part of the structure. Some churches are so social in nature that God and His Word is in second place at best.
How do these relationships fit together because a true community – a church community must have God as part of the structure. We don’t immediately see that in the Church, husband and wife triangle – something is missing. And that’s because each depiction is a two-dimensional map giving only a partial picture of the reality. Just as a flat map of our country doesn’t show Canada in relation to the world we need a three-dimensional figure – a globe! – And by adding another dimension in this case – a spiritual one we get a figure made of four triangles – like the crystal structure of your diamond rings – the toughest substance known to human science in nature. We celebrate the marriage relationship with this remarkable gem. Notice it is the individuals(the other two triangular relationships – husband/church/Jesus and wife/church/Jesus) – who establish Jesus in the church not the other way around. After all a church isn’t a building it’s people!
Godless Community and the church:
If we remove Jesus, we just have a carnal horizontal community not so different from social clubs. Without a spiritual connection to Jesus Christ the church community flattens to a humanistic religiosity. This would be a worldly kind of church and so would be either very weak prone to flying apart or very cult-like clenching people in it so tightly, always on the brink of imploding. Scripture tells us such communities do exist. They can be formed around self-righteous religiosity or cheap-grace permissiveness.
Jesus nailed the scribes and Pharisees for their demanding grasping religion; “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see.” (Matthew 23:2-5) Man-made rules and fake religiosity just won’t work because they are Godless.
Hosea confronted the religious establishment of his day for abandoning God and letting everything fly apart; “The more priests there were, the more they sinned against me; they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful. . . . And it will be: Like people, like priests. I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds. ‘They will eat but not have enough; they will engage in prostitution but not flourish, because they have deserted the Lord’” (Hosea 4:7-10). Permissiveness and a casual attitude to God and His Word always results in things flying apart no matter how ‘seeker friendly’ we become by trying to compromise on Biblical principles.
This bigger picture also shows the reality of our situation. Scripture tells that in Christ Jesus we are now at odds with the world and it’s ruler – the devil; “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) There is a war on in the heavenly realms; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) And the church is at the battle front; “His purpose was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3:10) We are at war!
The Church cannot make peace with the world any more than the soldiers in an army can make individual peace with the enemy army. Only our Commander-in-Chief, only Jesus has the authority to heal the earth and bring His Peace to us; “. . . at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)
Those that would have us believe that we can make our world better by being on friendly terms with it ignore Scripture; “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) It’s not about numbers, attracting members or planting more churches – it’s about God and His people! Our battle is to bring the Gospel message to the world by being the community of faith that Jesus has called us to be; “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15,16)
Challenging times are coming. Our sense of community under Jesus will be openly challenged by the world. Every denial of Jesus either by diminishing Scripture or His leadership in the church, works to remove His strength in our community, marriages and church. Our mission is to defend the faith we have in Jesus by proclaiming His Gospel boldly. We can accept our mission in this battle or not. But it won’t go away. We must choose; “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
Who will you serve?