This will be the first in a series on church, ekklesia and Justice I want to do, enjoy.
I have been a student of the church and church government since I was born into it long ago. I’ve slept through more good sermons than most people have heard.
I’ve spent as much time under the pew as on top of it, starting as a child when I played there to later a an adult as I wept there.
I love the church, always have and it has been my home since God grafted me as a wild olive branch into the holiness stump and revival culture I am part of…but I love the Kingdom more, and I am by nature a wild branch so I might pursue the Kingdom in ways that the church finds offensive, uncouth or perhaps outside safe perimeters…but no one ever discovered a new frontier by being safe…so yea…whatever…
The Kingdom has the church in it, but often the church does not recompense this grace…we’ve all encountered church environments completely devoid of kingdom.
What we call church and what God calls church are two completely different things, they must be because when God see’s the church He see’s what Jesus purchased and not some building with a name on it, or some group of like-minded doctrinal adherents.
When God see’s the church in a city, He see’s every person in all of time in that vicinity that calls upon the name of Jesus, and He see’s the contribution to His assignment that each person will make.
When we go to define the church we need to do it from Heavens purpose and perspective and not earths…this is much harder than it sounds because we have a tendency to use our church culture to define church, God is not limited to this, or any other of our environmentally developed languages, He defines all things in terms of eternity, He see’s the end from the beginning and declares His purpose before it comes to pass..we don’t have that luxury.
If you want a shocking expose on how different our view of the church from God can be consider that the church Jesus grew up in became the chief agent of opposition and murder against Him and what he birthed out of his Rabbinical journey with his disciples.
The church Jesus grew up in became the agent demanding his death…
It should be written into our understanding that the church did not exist in the garden, and does not exist in the New Jerusalem, it is a temporary structure at best, so how we define it, and better yet how we approach it should encompass a mindset that it has a limited purpose and scope for existence. This metric should also encompass how we define gifts that are primarily focused in the church, or on the development of the church, such as the five-fold or even things like worship ministry.
If the church is temporary, yet Apostles exist in the New Jerusalem, if a “worship ministry” here is temporary, but worship is eternal, then we obviously need a broader framework of how and what these gifts and assignments are.
This is where I think a few adjustments to our western mindset can help…first we need to understand the context of “ekklesia” in the way it was used both in Greek and Hebrew culture, the scriptural context of “church” must first make sense and fit into the worldview of the people who the original passages were written to, after that application we get to see how we fit into it.
The second adjustment we must make is in context of Gods broader purpose on the earth, nothing He endorses will be in opposition to His purposes but will in fact flow into His plans…this is why I have chosen to include the word “Justice” in my title…justice is one of the foundations of Gods throne, meaning that all of Gods purposes in eternity with us have an element of justice in them, it is unavoidable and will become plain if you are willing to look.
A prime example I give of this is the simple equation that any healing is a manifestation of Gods justice upon the issue of disease, the stripes and wounding of Jesus establish a legal framework for healing and when it arrives it is a demonstration of the sentence issued from heaven, regardless of if the healing came from a surgeon or faith, all flow out of Jesus who carried the disease for us.
Recently in one of my prayer walks, I was confronted with the reality that Abraham in bargaining with God over the fate of Sodom stopped at ten righteous, I have heard sermons that suggest Abraham stopped to soon, that He balked at requesting more, that if he had gone down to 5 or even 1 God would have said yes…this thinking comes from a purely western mindset that does not see how deeply devoted to God Abraham was, when Abram heard the word that he would bless the families of the earth, he took that on as a personal assignment, so his attempt to stop the judgment of Sodom was not about averting justice, but in fact it was the opposite, Abraham needed a righteous *minyion a group of ten righteous leaders who could change the course of a city, he was not looking for averting judgment. he was trying to establish a synagogue model where the city could be transformed.
Justice must be a deeply held model of any group called to transform a city…so any definition of church must encompass justice as one of the primary tenants in its model, this was Abraham’s model and it must be ours, the question that led to the bargain table of intercession was “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”…Abraham’s motivation was based on Gods justice, not on some arbitrary begging for mercy, Abraham’s faith was redemptive in wanting ALL the families of the earth to be blessed by him.
So how does that translate into our modern model of a church and “not forsaking the gathering together”???
Well I’ll answer a question with a question…paying the internet bill for an organisation that is limited in freedom to only members of rank, or giving money to help a single mom raising kids alone where the father has abandoned them…which if these is “the Lords work”????
One of these will ask for funds in a weekly setting in a typical gathered environment using the phrase “for the Lords work” (maybe not directly but implied) the other will go possibly unnoticed and struggle to remain afloat.
Why ask this question? (Especially in light of the critical posture it evokes)…because in both of these equations, the church where believers gather and in the situation of a single mom we have elements requiring an application of justice, Paul will admonish the Corinthian believers that they will one day “judge the angels” so any disagreement should be handled by a group of “wise” among them, this is what Abraham was reaching for in 10 righteous, he was seeking to establish a bench where wisdom could adjudicate and avert judgment on the city, justice must flow and the gathering of believers should be the fountainhead of justice, not the distorting of it.
When we make the gathering of believers about hierarchy, about building projects and ministries and not about justice, you can probably bet that we are deviating from Gods agenda for the ekklesia in a community…am I against buildings and ministries? Not so in so much that these things serve a purpose in establishing justice, social and otherwise…you may need a building to help single moms by providing childcare or healing rooms to establish justice over disease, but the existence of any building or ministry must be the out-working of Gods throne and His throne is concerned with the cry of the widow, the fatherless and the alien…
Please don’t hear this as a critique of modern church models, I have absolute hope we can do a lot of good in our communities but we must prioritize what God does, and that should start with justice, not retire there…
More to come…much to ponder…
*minyion is actually a Hebrew group of elders called out of the legal assembly to enforce the conditions of covenant…a Biblical example is in the Song of Solomon where the bride is found by the watchmen “shamar” who were the guardians of the city and enforcers of covenants made in the gates…when the bride was wounded, it was because she had turned away the groom and violated some of the basic requirements of covenant, when she was wounded by the shamar or “minion” she was cleansed and the covenant re-established for her…it was a willing submission on her part, she sought them out so the covenant could be rejoined since she was the one who violated it. Our modern day term “minion” came from this Hebrew model, meaning “group of ten”…although the current use is much different than the original.