Not Attending—Denying Christ?
In the U.S. we have created a culture where the only identity of a “Christian” is if they attend a church service on Sunday. I have heard it said from pastors that the “ones” that don’t attend Sunday night service are probably going to hell, because they haven’t “committed” to the Lord. “Bringing Kingdom” has come to mean—how do you serve at the “church?” (Nursery, Sunday School, Greeter, Worship, Media, etc…)
So, since we have created this culture we have created—pastors and ministers are stressed that they are making the wrong decisions about how to meet or if they should meet at all.
Could it be that we are looking at this wrong?
In Acts—when the persecution of the “church” came—they were scattered throughout the region.
“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4
As the people of God were scattered, the gospel in them was scattered about as well. If the people of God would have just stayed where they were, there may not have been a spreading of the gospel. If they would have just stayed and built huge buildings and made programs designed for themselves—we (Gentiles) would be lost.
We have been warned for years (D.L. Moody, A.W. Tozer, David Platt, Francis Chan, etc) that the church in America has built buildings to “come to.” “They know where we are—if they wanna come they can,” has been our statement of faith.
We designed ministry around “us” instead of “us” taking the Gospel to the Nations.
The word church comes from the Greek word “ekklesia.”
—Not meaning a temple, synagogue, or building. Instead, in its basic meaning is “assembly.”
This could be misinterpreted if we try to take the model we are used to in America and try to fit it in our agenda instead of looking at the intent of the word in Jesus’ culture and let it influence our model.
The term was already a familiar term to both Greek and Roman cultures when Jesus mentioned it. It refers to a secular institution OPERATING in the marketplace in a governmental capacity. It was NOT used to describe religious gatherings.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church (ekklesia), and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” –-Jesus, Matthew 16:18
Notice, Jesus didn’t invent this word on this day leaving His disciples wondering what He meant. Jesus did not say, “and on this rock I build my temple, synagogue, building, etc.” Instead, Jesus chose a word that was already a common word in the culture He was talking to. His disciples would have known exactly what He meant.
In other words, Jesus was now going to plant His “ekklesia” WITHIN the surrounding systems of government and society in order to influence them with the Kingdom of God.
This could be represented by a handful of people. This could happen anywhere!
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20
It’s also different than what we normally think because it is mobile!
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20
Maybe our current status (Covid-19 pandemic) should cause us to repent (metanoia: change of mind).
“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 4:17
The purpose of metanoia was a new way of thinking—that began in the inner man. The announcement was being made—to operate in this heavenly kingdom, you are going to have think different than the world. Even more than that—think different than religion.
When we are begging people to humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways—we are going to have to think beyond—smoke, drink, and cuss. We also need to consider what we are doing in “American Christianity” by pouring all our resources into “us,” and building our own “kingdoms.”
Jesus’ Kingdom is the “upside down” Kingdom—because to the “world” and “religion” it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes when we won’t step out in faith on our own—hearing His pleas to take the gospel outside the four walls—something has to take place to rearrange our agenda and our status quo.
(Matthew 24/Hebrews 12—the shaking of the world’s systems) (Acts 8—the scattering)
So, what are you saying bro??? No more gatherings?
Not saying that at all.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
We need to meet now more than ever before. However, it may not look like what we think it should. In part two of this article, I will clarify what I mean, but for now just begin to think, maybe rethink, what we are doing.
I am super excited to see the shift this past week with most of our body thinking outside of the box to get the message out. Let’s continue on!!!
Let’s not look so much at the enemy (pandemics) and respond in fear and pointing fingers, but see what God is up to in the midst of it all.
“the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:18
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:29
This can only come from a place of “rest.” (Ephesians 1-3—seated in heavenly places)
Once we get into the secret place (Psalm 91/John 15/John 17) and hear His heartbeat (John 10), then we can get on board with what He is doing…
…and it just may be different than we thought.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.’” Matthew 16:24
“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?” Isaiah 43:19a
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
Check out the following resources for more information on the background and history of the word ekklesia: