I have built some pretty incredible buildings in my past, probably one of my favorites was Lost Canyons Dining Hall, its the largest open span log building in the Southwest.
Whenever you build great buildings (and even not so great ones) you generally have a season where you erect scaffolding around the structure to help in the process, but the scaffolding is ALWAYS temporary…it is made of metal tubes and planks and serves a specific purpose to get the building out of the ground and is essential on buildings that are to occupy several stories.
One of the most important aspects of scaffolding is that it needs to feel secure, it must be stable, immovable and firm, if it is not accidents happen, that’s why when you set it up you take your time and test it for longevity you stand on it, carry loads across it, you make sure it will handle the weight of all the trades, you make sure it is level, balanced and locked into place, its purpose demands this.
I’ve been thinking a bit about some of this lately, the idea that most of what we have been doing in our church culture is possibly scaffolding for something greater to come. Dyfed Wyn Roberts has an interesting post about church history that is worthy of a read and it reminds me of the famous Winston Churchill quote where he says “History will be kind to me because I intend to write it”…there is a certain “uncertainty” about history because it has been buried and the facts are open to interpretation by those who were not actually there…and I do find it amusing that like Dyfed suggest we have been much kinder to Constantine and Eusibius than perhaps the Architect would have preferred.
In any construction process the Architect has the final say, not the construction managers and workers in the field, I have been on projects where the designer showed up and said “tear it down and do it over, this time read the blue-prints”…and I have been the manager who has said those words to very skilled technicians who failed to read the cover sheets or definitions.
Our approach to history does not change Gods design regardless of text proofs and mechanical interpretations.
If God is the Architect, then it really does not matter if a load bearing beam thinks it is a piece of plumbing or crown molding, it will get tucked into the construction process exactly as the original design requires, and it may make all sorts of claims to being crown molding or cabinetry, the truth is seen from the long view and not the short.
As long as the scaffolding is in place, the final product is not habitable…no one lives in a building where blocks can fall off the planks far overhead…the Certificate of Occupancy only happens when the Architect is satisfied and all the construction codes have been met, and that requires the scaffolding be gone, packed away and the landscape is finished.
When I read about the church, and the government of God as relates to the church I am struck at the oft forgotten word “until” that the Apostles connected to the framework…the entire five-fold ministry exists “until” we ALL come to the unity of the faith unto a mature man…and when I stroll over to the book of Revelation and look at the “final elevations” where the Architect describes the finished project as a City, I notice a glaring absence of a Temple and the church is no where to be seen…there are no evangelists, no teachers no pastors, no prophets and if there are Apostles they are passed on the way into the city as foundations and walls, but not as assignments in the city.
Another analogy along this line of thinking that I cannot escape is that often in the construction process there are certain tools and techniques that are predominant for a season, but once things move along they are left behind and forgotten buried under the progress…I once had to tear up an asphalt driveway and beautiful landscape to install a gas pipe that was required to heat the building but somehow got left out in the excavating stage (it happened prior to my arrival on the project and oddly enough had been signed off on the blue-prints… a false-hood that carried HUGE financial penalties in the long term).
Paul Leader recently posited a question about a “culture of honor” in the context of our current phase in the body of Christ, a question that requires us to stand back, step away from the project and look at what we are actually building. A plumber might see an elaborate spa being built, a flooring guy might look at the same building and see a huge dance floor, it could be office space, or student housing, a library or a fancy home that is being built and each construction trade will only see it in terms of their own construction history, it will “be like unto” something from the past as far as we all know, and there-in lies the problem.
What if its a ship? A vessel might have all the same trades at work that a domicile would have and the tradesmen would do the exact kind of work on a space craft as they would a house, only the Architect might know the actual designation of the project.
This is the problem with our catch phrase building process, each new phrase carries an air of authority and deems those beneath it to be in rebellion, broken or wounded, or perhaps simply “not mature”, but what we fail to see is this is a view from the scaffolding and not a finished product.
Five-fold, culture of honor, revival, emerging, house, missional, even wilderness are all examples of building techniques but none of them describe the finished item, they are popular today, much like deliverance, shepherding, word of faith, purpose driven and “I found it” were years ago.
Here in the States, all buildings are required to have an approved set of plans on sight during all phases of construction that way ANY inspector can come along and get questions answered as to the scope and design of the work.
Obviously we all think the Bible is the blueprint, but there’s a bit of misunderstanding that might need cleaning up here…if the Architect so deems, he might at any phase of the project redraft/redesign/or re-interpret what is on the paper and all trades have to submit to his instruction regardless of what is on the blue-prints…so really the blue prints are only for our benefit, the actual design goes much deeper and carries more authority than the paper we are working off of.
I once built a clock tower as part of a building, and my framers, drywall and carpenters all had serious confusion over how to frame the second floor…when I finally sat down with the Architect I discovered we had ALL been reading the plans wrong since there was NO SECOND floor…the building was completely open all the way up, something the plans had difficulty in communicating, we had assumed a floor existed because our paradigm required it, but once it was built it made perfect sense why it was not there.
Have you ever questioned HOW the Bible came to you in the form it is in? Consider that Jesus did not have a copy of the version you are used to… neither did the disciples that He told to “continue in my word”…does it occur to you that the words of Jesus spoken in the “abide” passage will not be recorded for almost 50 years? How do you “abide” in His words when they have not been written down?
Abraham, the father of the faith did not have anything written down…its possible that the “rock” you were hewn from was illiterate…and yet here is the Father of many nations participating in the Grand Architects building process and blessing nations.
At one point in church history the Book of Enoch was included in the canon, yet no longer…even though it is apparent the Apostles (and possibly Jesus) quote from it…who made this decision and does it make a difference? Just asking…perhaps your view of the bible is well thought out and you have considered all these issues…or not…
How you read the Bible and speak it as well might be the product of something in your history and not exactly the way the Architect wrote it…that is a real possibility for all of us to consider, but we are reticent to do so because we think it requires abandoning our post…but never once in 30 year of construction did I ever punish a tradesman for asking legitimate questions about the blueprints, they are often very confusing, how much more-so a set of writings that conveys so much as the Bible does?
New Creation Realities
So much of what passes as “good design” in church culture is really just hanging off of scaffolding and completely misses the opportunity to release people into what Paul will declare is a “New Man”…and frankly a lot of our models rely upon titles and prefix’s such as “Senior” and “Sovereign” that connect us to a God who is rather backwards in design, much of what I see is simply Old Covenant on steroids, or “Israel 2.0”, rather than “Christ in you the hope of Glory”.
The Kingdom is not an Empire, so why build it like one?
If the Bible is really true then there is something to be said about the inadequacy of our ability to read the blueprints, if Christ dwells inside of every person who is born again if we truly are the temple itself then why are we so…human?
Paul will challenge one group of saints and say “I had to talk to you as mere men”…what the heck does he mean by that? Apparently Paul thought that just being human was a step down from the reality of what God was doing in the ekklessia.
A verse my daughters and I often banter about is the one where Paul says we will judge the angels…but much like the early church we cannot seem to get past suing one another in worldly courts.
Think about it…if the Bible is true, you will at some point in the future sit as a judge over angelic creatures, what will be the basis of your decisions at that point? Our perspective is often reduced to page 5 paragraph 7, subsection 12 rather than on something happening in the universe with other creatures who need our capacity to decide things (and while you are thinking about it ask yourself the question: How is what I am doing in this phase of construction (church) contributing anything to my capacity to decide eternal consequences for angelic beings? How will I manage my term as a bench judge in heaven?).
I think this begins to wander into the point I am trying to make, we get so caught up with our “trades” that we forget we are not the ones in charge and we really don’t even know what it is we are building anyway.
CHRIST in you the hope of glory…
Christ in YOU the hope of glory…
Christ IN you the hope of glory…
Christ in you the HOPE of glory…
Christ in you the hope of GLORY…
CHRIST IN YOU THE HOPE OF GLORY…
Think about it…stand back and look away from the scaffolding…
That Grandma down the street, that child in the nursery, that redeemed drug addict…ALL of them…
Christ in you the hope of glory…
We are not the scaffolding…the scaffolding is only temporary…
Try to remember that.