It is my opinion that people will not join or stay in the Church because of some great theological insight, but rather because they are hugged. The Church should be the greatest toucher and hugger within society. As the body of Christ in the world, the Church should be the greatest lover of all. But that is easier said than done. In fact if you’ve been around Church much at all you know that most churches spend more time shrugging than hugging.
Most Churches are great “filling stations,” step right up, get your high-test grace. See you next week: same time, same place. Well it is my desire that the Father’s House Churches would not merely be a “filling station,” but a place where God’s people are formed and fashioned into the family of God, the very Body of Christ. That requires reaching out to others, hugging, shaking hands, and lots of amens.
I believe that the Church is a community of disciples, in which lay people share ministry with the ordained. For me the Church is a community where we try to create as many opportunities as possible, on a quasi-sacramental basis, to lead people into encountering some kind of touch from God. I truly believe in the “real presence” of God in the everyday lives of ordinary people – in the eating, the drinking, the singing, the weeping, the birthing, the marrying and the burying.
Our holiness is in the ordinary, our holiness is in loving with everything we’ve got, and in loving the way Jesus loved. The Church doesn’t make me holy. The Church doesn’t make you holy. The Church reminds us of what we already possess.
With all my heart and soul I believe that the Church is the Body of Christ. I also believe that the Church is the family of God and that I am bound to every man, woman and child of the Church because of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. I believe that in Christ I am a part of every member of the Body of Christ and that they are a part of me. I believe that this relationship in the Spirit is as real and as profound as the bond of the flesh and blood. I believe that I am truly part of the Body of Christ. But just believing all these beautiful things about the Church is not enough. If they are to have the influence on my life that they are meant to have, I must also experience what it means to be part of the Body of Christ. Knowing and believing are just not good enough.
Family and relationships have taken on a totally different meaning for me. Relationship is where I primarily find the Lord. My own quest for holiness is to live all the relationships of my life as completely and as lovingly as I can. The call to shepherd for me means to belong to my people and to allow them to belong to me. I see my life as one in which I am called to share my life with brothers and sisters as they become “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.”
The only thing that truly touches us is the knowledge that we are “loved.” The “successful” or “effective” pastor touches his people not because of his theology, style or personal gifts. He touches his people only when he loves them and allows them to love him. The successful fellowship is the place where God’s people experience this love – ministers, deacons and lay staff loving others and being loved in return.
Community is the place where I feel loved, accepted, important and known. Community is not just the place where I am told about the love that God has for me in Christ Jesus; it is the place where I am loved and empowered by that community to give that love to other people. Community is far more that correct theological, scriptural and moral teaching. If the doctrines of the Church do not personally engage and touch me, I can never really hear them or respond to them.
People don’t understand and accept Christian teaching because of logical and scientific explanations, as true and as correct as they may be. Somehow these truths must come alive. The only place where this happens today is in a living vibrant community that is always in the process of celebrating the sacrament of friendship and family. In order to become a real community people must pass from mere formal adherence to principle and rule to a living and joyful sharing of faith and life.
My heart is overwhelmed with the knowledge that the enemy has established strongholds, (seats of resistive authority), within our lives in order to keep us from being fully integrated into the body of Christ, the Community of His Love.
Two of the very strongest “holds” on people today are; “individualism” and “expectations.” Everything in this world is designed around the fulfillment of the individual, thus every individual places expectations upon people around him or her. These two factors are strong barriers to the reality of God’s community of love where every person works for the fulfillment of all.
We are called to lay down our lives for the sake of Jesus and the gospel. We have been called to a kingdom that is more than the sum total of the individuals but rather about the family that is being formed in the likeness and image of our father.
It is time to start a revolution of “re-forming” the family of God that is centered around the very revealed love of the Father, Jesus Christ. His sacrifice was for us “all” not merely as individuals with expectations but rather as a family living and loving together.
The children of Israel thought of themselves as grasshoppers. That is in part because they looked at themselves individually rather than collectively. I want to challenge you to see yourself collectively as the Body of Christ rather than individually trying to tackle the entire world alone.
Unity is the forerunner of the power of the Holy Spirit. With that reality in mind let us move to be re-united as the very family of God, empowered together by His Presence for the removal of every stronghold that has hindered the body of Christ.
In His Great Love,