As Jesus entered the temple for the first time in the gospel of John, it says that He made a whip and began to drive out the money-changers, turn their tables over and spill out all their gains. He said they were making the house of God into a place for merchandising.
Besides this one time I do not see Jesus doing much about how or what was being done WHEN people went to temple, to synagogue or to homes for fellowship, breaking bread, hearing of the Word, or ministry. Another words, He didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about the “methods of their meetings” or “where” or “how often”. He was more interested in the WHY, the motivations of the heart, the HEART of the matter, not just the outward manifestations. Unfortunately we are most of the time concerned with only the outward manifestations. Things like, how good the sermon was, the power-point presentation, the air temperature of the sanctuary, the orderly check in process at the children ministry, the energy of and selection of the youth programs, the layout of the bulletin and the seats. Didn’t that worship band sing that song last week? The music was too loud, too soft, too long. Too many announcements, the guest speaker seemed boring, what’s for brunch after?
That’s why He said don’t pray in vain repetitions thinking that will get it done. No, instead He went to the heart of the matter. Know who God is, He is your Father, know that He knows what you need before you ask. So ask like a child asking their father instead. This is the heart of the matter. It has more to do with changing the way we relate to God than just giving us a formula to pray so we get what we want, like going to a vending machine and choosing from the many options.
When you worship, don’t harbor unforgiveness toward a brother or sister, leave the offering on the altar (don’t make the sacrifice of worship yet) the true act of worship would be to go a forgive a brother or sister just as you’ve been forgiven by God. He always in all things went to the heart of the matter. This is the change Jesus came to bring, a change of the heart. And don’t worry about the place where you worship (John 4). Worship should take place where ever you are in the moment because you are interacting with the Spirit always. Find the freedom to do this and where you are won’t matter, ever.
Later but not much later, after Jesus turned the water into wine in Cana, it says of Jesus that He didn’t commit Himself to many who believed in Him for the sake of the miracles He was doing. Sounds a bit harsh at first. But it goes on to say WHY, that there was no need for anyone to come to Him and testify of man to Him for He knew what was inside of man (humanity).
Here we begin to see the area of change, radical change, that Jesus for. Where does the Radical Change start? The inside of man. The soul, the mind, the spirit, the heart.
In changing man there, in the inner most being He would then be bringing change to EVERY area of life that humans went, interacted with and had influence in. “For OUT of you will flow rivers of living water” Jesus would tell us, teach us and ultimately show us.
“Church As We Know It” needs a change. But how do we bring it, how did and does God bring it? Through the person of Jesus Christ. Where do we and God bring it? To the person of man, individually and ultimately corporately.
Many of you and many others related to you are in a tremendous season of “transitional change”. For most there is little to any clarity as to why this change is taking place. “The Kingdom of God is within you”. Do not forget this. The increase of His Kingdom takes place first and foremost within our lives towards God first, and towards others second. How we live in response to Him, towards Him and towards others is the result of this increase. Isaiah says that the increase of His Kingdom shall see NO END. It is an ever increasing expansion! So then also is the process of change within us, ever increasing! Don’t let yourself settle into route and routine! Guard your heart from this in order to avoid the spirit of religion, doing things out of habit versus doing them from the heart!
Matter Of The Heart
For much of the past several years theRoots has been about “change”, but mostly in the way we do church. The focus has been upon “being” the church, not just going and or doing church. This may have, by some, been taken as a focus on lesser things, external things only. For those who have continued on the journey it is part of the process from the external towards the internal. You must first cut through the surface to get to the heart. In other words, asking questions like, “Why do we only go to church on Sundays” in order to find the answers to be because of routine, habit, ease, convenience and tradition. Now that we’re there, what do we do about it? Who do we turn to for the answer, for the power to change? To Jesus. He then begins to show and lead us into “church everyday of the week”. Why? Because God Himself does not esteem one day holier than another.
Other questions like, “Why does the Pastor or pastoral staff DO the majority of the work of the ministry”? Answers like, “Systematic tradition passed down over generations that have been left unchecked and unbalanced have allowed a caste-like structure to manifest and exist within the body of Christ that has ultimately left the majority of Christians underpowered, and in the case of ministering, unemployed”.
Again, all of this has been a journey toward the heart; the heart of the Father first, our hearts second.
So what of this change has taken place in our individual lives? Only you and the Father know. I recently read this article and it made me think of many who find themselves dealing with the daily “measure” of ourselves. By what system, scales, standards do we live by, weigh ourselves and others by, by what and by whom do we determine “success and failure” standards of life by?
For it is in the answer of this question that we find the motivations that we live our lives by. And if these are different than that of the heart of God, then we can understand why so great a change is yet to come in our lives.
For the early church, those who would find a life following Christ outside of the already present religious structure, they co-existed with people who lived “being” religious, but having no power at all, Temple worship. Why was the system powerless? Because the source of its power had left. No longer was the presence and person of God constrained to the Holy of Holies. Now instead He would reside in the temple of men, their very lives. And in turn God was building up a temple for Himself if the unified Body of Christ, many men and women.
It is amazing to me that we would be in the midst of such turmoil, testing and even times of temptation and find ourselves so isolated. That in the midst of such a “connected” (Facebook, Twitter, email and text direct to the phone) society, so many in THE Church would find themselves dis-connected. This is one area that the account of the early followers of Christ would deal with on a “daily” basis, fellowship.
Peers & Perspective
The following is an article I received from a friend. I believe it bears relevance to where many find themselves today. I pray it is received in the nature it has been sent; encouragement. To build up and to edify the body of Christ.
“You are not as good as you think when things are going well; you are not as bad as you feel when things are going poorly. Retain your perspective and surround yourself with people who will love you and will tell you the truth.”
Advice from Michael Hyatt, Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, from an interview by Mike Hyatt of N2Growth (http://www.n2growth.com/blog/ceo-decisioning/).
I recently read Jim Collins’ latest book, How the Mighty Fall, and was interested again to see how research confirms what the Bible has said for centuries. How easily I have fallen into the trap of thinking I have finally figured out the keys to success just because I had a small degree of success, not truly acknowledging that whatever I did well was only a product of God’s grace.
Then, when God gently (although I didn’t always see it as gentle) brings me back to reality, I swing to the other extreme and imagine that I am a failure. God says I am neither a great success nor a permanent failure. What I have finally discovered, and admitted, is that I need trusted people around me who won’t tell me what I want to hear, but what I need to hear. My role is to be gracious in my response, recognizing that my friends are as vulnerable as I am, and a sharp response or a deaf ear can easily damage a relationship that took a long time to to build.
Do you have trusted, peers who consistently engage with you on the topics that burden you most?
For it is with these kind of people in your life and you in theirs that you will discover the truest meaning of “Church” with, the truest meaning of “family” with, the truest meaning of “Kingdom” with, the truest meaning of “life” with.
Jesus said that a city on a hill cannot be hidden. Unfortunately the Church has been “hidden” to most of the world for far too long. Odd, when there are so many “church buildings” in our communities.
“Here’s the church, here’s the steeple, open the doors and there’s the people? Is this really what God had in mind when He came to reside in us?
Change is coming, change is here. It is change at the very core of our beings…
May we each be eternally changed more and more into His likeness and from His fullness,
Tim Crozier is a surfboard shaper, owner of Blackbird Surfboards and an organic church planter. He and his wife Gina and their two surfing sons, Caleb and Micah live.