This past week, while worshiping, I had this vision of the COVID-19 World Map. You know the one. The one where it displays all the dots across the globe of the areas infected by this virus. As I’m seeing this map, I began to think about the gospel. God designed the gospel to spread like a virus—one person to the next. When that thought crossed my mind, I started to see people in my mind sitting in front of their televisions and cell phones watching this map with anticipation—checking to see if the virus had spread anymore.
Then the thought comes across my mind—what if we were watching a world map in hopes that God’s glory is being spread from one country to the next? What if our fears were turned into faith and used in that way? Wow!
My thoughts started to race with anticipated hope. What if we looked at this map with “faith eyes” instead of “fear eyes?” What else could we see through this map if we looked through faith—would it be the opposite of what we see when we look through the lenses of fear in this situation?
Think about this for a moment with me. How are we are trying to defeat the virus? So many resources, so many elements, so many triage’s, so many new ideas, but everyday we are told we play a part as well. “Stay home!”
We are told. “Social distancing is key!” They lament.
If we can manage to implement these small steps, we can not only slow down the virus, we could possibly have the potential to end it.
Think about the way we have done this with discipleship in the kingdom as a whole. The way we have designed our church implementation programs. Most of our ministry opportunities are designed to make “our” church better—not the one down the street.
Slowly we have kept the gospel inside the four walls on Sundays. For the most part we do not share the gospel at work or at home. We “social distance” ourselves from conversations in hopes we do not offend someone or scared of what they may think about us. For the most part, we keep the gospel to ourselves. I mean, we don’t want to impose.
What about the little video that has gone viral this past week? The video shows several matches in a line and as one is lit, the next one automatically is lit and then it continues quickly! Then when one match is taken out of the line—the fire stops! Thus, we have been told the virus will stop as well.
What about the gospel? We hear a great message, we get a little pep in our step during worship, we may even get convicted, but when we are that match that backs out of the equation, we stop the gospel from spreading. Everybody knows that it is the paid minister’s job to spread the gospel—I mean it is in their job description. However, on the other side of our match there could have been someone at work, someone in our family, someone at the grocery store, or a neighbor across the road who desperately needed to hear the good news.
I believe God has prophetically shown us these things with current situations if we would just open our eyes and see what He is doing. He is bringing beauty from ashes! He is making a way where there seems no way!
The four gospels are very clear how the religious seemed during the time that Jesus arrived with His kingdom. They were not aware. Why? They were so used to their traditions that He didn’t fit inside their agenda.
”He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” He said to them, “All too well you [e]reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” Luke 7:6-9
Eight times Jesus says, “He who has ears, let him hear.”
(Matthew 11:14-15, Matthew 13:9, Mark 4:9, Luke 8:8, Mark 4:23, Mark 4:24-25, Mark 7:16, & Luke 14:35)
Inferring that we have to lay aside our agenda and listen by the spirit. It is by grace that we hear from this place…not arrogance.
For so long we have placed God in a box and said if it is not done “this” way at “this” time—it is not church, and it is not the gospel. It was kind of humorous to hear some of the same people who have said it is not church if it is at home, online, outside, or at a different time, now proclaim boldly that it is still church if we have it like that now.
Sometimes God will force us out of our bubble to rethink our traditions and behaviors. He gives us an opportunity to get on board with Him. In fact, He designed us to co-labor with Him on this earth.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28
“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9
Since He is giving us time to catch up with Him, let us not miss this great opportunity. This is not about if you have a big church, little church, home church, online church, or drive-in church. I have friends that attend bigger churches and small. I attend a home church. God is not saying one is wrong and one is right. In fact, you can take most of our models in big churches and try to do them in homes and still be missing it. The point is—it’s not about the place. It’s about the people and the people becoming and making disciples of ALL nations.
“For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.” Habakuk 2:14
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: [i]which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27
This is not going to happen with our traditional models. If it would, then we would be done with the mission by now. When I say traditional, I am not talking about hymns versus 7/11. No!
What I am inferring to is that after Augustine implemented our current model, we have steadily gotten away from the original model set up in Acts. (If you have never studied the history of the Augustine era—might want to. I could point you to some, but really there is so much information out there, it wouldn’t take long to figure it out)
There was a story in Charisma magazine years ago that gives a great example for this: “A pastor who wanted to help with the building of his church’s new sanctuary. He had none of the construction skills needed, but he was willing to work at any job he was given.
So, the contractor assigned him to cut 100 2-by-4 boards, each into 6-foot lengths. Doing this would save time for the carpenters—when they showed up for work the next day they could get right to work with the newly cut wood.
The pastor carefully measured the first board to the exact length and cut it with precision. But instead of using his tape measure to determine where he would cut the second board, he laid the first board on top of the second one, made his mark and cut. He then took the newly cut second board and laid it on the third board, drew his line and cut. He continued measuring like this until all 100 boards were cut.
Having no construction experience, the pastor did not know that using a previously cut board as the measurement for the next length would result in the cut mark on the new board being about 1/8 inch beyond where it should be. That extra length wasn’t so bad when the pastor was cutting the second board. But after he used this method for every succeeding measurement, the last board was well more than 7 feet long. In the end, the work was useless to the builder. The next morning the carpenters had to recut the boards the pastor had worked so hard on the night before.
Ministry is often done the same way. As long as we measure our lives and service by the previous generation, we are able to consider ourselves biblically sound and successful. But when we go back to the original standard set 2,000 years ago, we find quite a difference between Jesus and ourselves.”
Bro, are you saying God wants us to look like Acts? Yes and no.
I believe His intent is to take us all the way back to the garden before we believed the lie. (Genesis 3) However, Acts and the model given to us in that book is the gateway to get to that place.
A few years ago I was reading a book by Francis Chan and he posed the question something like this, “If you had never seen the model of church as you know it now, and you spent three years all alone with nothing but a Bible—no commentary or other material—would you come up with the model you are fighting for now?”
I couldn’t move. I had to put the book down. I almost got sick to my stomach, because I did not want to come to terms with the answer. I would have to make some major decisions if I were to answer that question.
When I finally come to terms with that question (a testimony for another day) I made some life altering choices. Since then, I have found the Bible more alive than ever and God has become more real to me. Not that He changed—I did. My spiritual eyes were not open to the things He wanted to show me until I repented and acted upon my convictions.
“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, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.”
“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:18-23
God is giving us an opportunity to kind of push the “reset button.” You know when your computer starts acting a little “glitchy,” slow, or cantankerous, and then you reboot it. We have an opportunity to rethink/reboot. Don’t let this be a time we just have to do something to “get by.” Allow this time push you forward to new and exciting things!
The following scriptures are in the Passion Translation. You can go back to KJV if you need to. The concept is still the same—I just like how this version flows with today’s topic.
“This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together EVEN MORE FREQUENTLY, eager to ENCOURAGE and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.” Hebrews 10:25
“EVERY BELIEVER was faithfully DEVOTED to following the teachings of the apostles. Their HEARTS were mutually linked to one another, sharing COMMUNION and coming together regularly for PRAYER. A deep sense of holy awe swept over everyone, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. All the believers were in fellowship as ONE BODY, and they SHARED with one another whatever they had. Out of GENEROSITY they even sold their assets to DISTRIBUTE the proceeds to those who were in NEED among them. Daily they MET together in the temple COURTS and in one another’s HOMES to CELEBRATE communion. They shared MEALS TOGETHER with joyful hearts and tender humility. They were continually filled with PRAISES to God, enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord kept ADDING to their number daily those who were COMING TO LIFE.” Acts 2:42-47
“Beloved friends, what does all this imply? When you conduct your meetings, you should always let everything be done to BUILD UP the church family. Whether you share a song of praise, a teaching, a divine revelation, or a tongue and interpretation, let EACH ONE CONTRIBUTE what strengthens others.” 1 Corinthians 14:26
“And he has appointed some with grace to be apostles, and some with grace to be prophets, and some with grace to be evangelists, and some with grace to be pastors, and some with grace to be teachers. And their calling is to nurture and prepare ALL the holy believers to do THEIR OWN WORKS OF MINISTRY, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ. These grace ministries will function until we all attain oneness into the faith, until we all experience the fullness of what it means to know the Son of God, and finally we become one into a perfect man with the full dimensions of spiritual maturity and fully developed into the abundance of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13
Remember, these are the guidelines we have when we meet. The other things we have added is not inherently wrong—it’s just extra. It only becomes wrong when the extra is more than what we have been commanded in scripture.
Here are a few great resources to help along this journey as we move forward together! Looking forward to great things!