“The deepest part of your heart longs to be bound together in some heroic purpose with others of like mind and spirit”
Eph 3:8-11 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery…10) so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church (MSG Through Christians like yourselves built into churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known) (11) This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, (21) to Him be the glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Isa 60:7
Col 1:24-25 rejoices in sufferings…I fill up the things lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh, on behalf of His body, which is the church; (25) of which I became a minister
When Christians view the church through the lens of God’s purpose seen in Scripture it changes their whole posture. If they don’t church becomes an unfortunate drudgery or religious obligation easily avoided or only given a token effort. Even worse it can lead to it’s own members almost becoming partners in persecution of the very bride Jesus died to perfect, spend eternity with (Rev 19:7, 21:2,9), and through which He fulfills His purpose.
In spite of all her faults and imperfections the church is the most glorious organization ever produced on earth. Looking at past 2000 years you have to admit that it’s creation, endurance, and influence is miraculous. It has survived and continues to survive terrible persecution as well as consistent neglect and criticism by many of it’s own members. It has also survived many disappointing imperfections from it’s leaders and members causing shame and dishonor in the eyes of the world around her.
In spite of all of the challenges and faults throughout the centuries the church has demonstrated what God’s has designed her to be, His chosen instrument of blessing to the whole earth (Gen 1:26-28, 12:3, 18:18, 22:17-18, 26:4, Gal 3:8-29, Eph 3:1-21). When you look down through the annals of history the church has been the greatest force for good on the face of the earth. Almost everywhere you go in the word there are churches seeking to bring benefit and blessing to the world around them. They are battling and overcoming poverty, ignorance, disease, and the consequences of sin in families and communities. I have been to remote villages in India and Africa that have little else, but they do have a churches demonstrating God’s goodness.
Statistics consistently show that churches outdo other groups during natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes in quick response times as well as longevity of care. Over and over again in these types of disasters the vast majority of meals, relief, and volunteer workers came from churches.
History has also demonstrated that the lion’s share of motivation and effort to correct societal ills originated with churches. Problems such as sickness, disease, education, woman’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and the Civil Rights movement all had their origins in the church. It is really true what the great commentator Matthew Henry declared about the calling on the church from Psalms 48 (the joy of the whole earth) “This is the privilege of the church of Christ that it is a holy mountain, a peculiar people…This earth is, by sin, covered with deformity, & therefore justly might that spot of ground which was thus beautified with holiness be called the joy of the whole earth, that is, what the whole earth has reason to rejoice in.”
It takes more than simply “going to church”
These types of impacts didn’t come by God’s people simply “going to church together.” The early church had no idea of our societies brand of “church going.” When you look at the early church in the Bible they had a much deeper experience in their relationship together in Christ. They were “added and devoted” to a way of life together Acts 2:41-47.
It carried with it the idea of being of “one heart and soul.” Act 4:32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul… Barnes commentary on this verse speaks of the early church having “one heart which denotes a tender union. They felt alike, or were attached to the same things.” Like the quote above they were “joined by God in a heroic purpose.”
They knew that Jesus building His church to fulfill His purpose was at the heart of what He was doing. They heard it from His own lips in Matthew 16:18 then He called them to lay their lives down for His cause Mat 16:24-25… “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
As the early apostles preached, they were not simply looking for crowds of new converts but for followers of Jesus who would be built together by Christ to become His active body on earth (1 Cor 12:27, Eph 1:22-23 etc.), and His bride for eternity (Eph 5:25-27, Rev 19:7, 21:2,9) . They wanted lost people found Luke 15, and built together into Christ body through which He speaks and acts and fills everything with His presence Ephesians 1:23 MSG. They wanted His people to become “members one of another“ (Ephesians 4:25, Romans 12:4).
Paul referred those He was joined with in His cause as sons, children, brothers sisters, co worker, fellow worker, and fellow soldier etc. All these terms carry the idea of being joined in a cause (His dream) that they carried together. Rom 16:9, 21, 2Co 8:23, Php 2:25, 1Th 3:2, 1Co 3:6-9, Rom 16:3, Php 4:3, Col 1:7, 4:9-11, Phm 1:24, 3Jn 1:8, Php 2:25, Phm 1:2, 23, 2Co 2:12-13, 8:23, Php 4:1-3, 1Ti 1:18, 2Ti 1:2, 2:1, 1Pe 5:13, 2Pe 3:15
His design entails being together in a purpose. When Christians understand and embrace this calling it affects everything from the way they treat each other, the way they seek God together, how they carry their responsibilities together, to the way they move together in His mission to the earth around them.
Biblical Example of Carrying God’s Dream Together On Mission
When God joins people together to carry His dream Jesus will continue to destroy the works of the enemy through them 1Jn 3:8…The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. An OT analogy of this is what Samson did when he joined the foxes around a torch (dream) of fire (His Spirit). He released the foxes together and they moved through and destroyed the enemies crops Jdg 15:4-5.
When Jesus joins His people together to carry His dream with the fire of the Holy Spirit between them they also move among the enemies works and destroy them. This is what Jesus did when He sent out the 12 and 70 in pairs in Matthew 9-11 and Luke 10. They brought peace into receptive homes, healed people, cast out devils, and preached the Kingdom.
This is what Peter and John did when they went to the temple and healed the blind man Acts 3:1-11. It is what Paul, Barnabbas, Silas, Timothy and others did when they preached the gospel and saw churches raised up. It is what countless Christian’s have done throughout the centuries as Jesus joined them together to carry God’s dream. When you see this you will no longer be content to simply “go to church together.” You will hunger to carry God’s dream together.
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