I’m a big believer that the invisible spiritual world influences the natural world we see. 1 Corinthians 15:46 teaches first the natural, then the spiritual! This passage has given me a lot of insight over the past year because many of the natural problems we are seeing are revealing spiritual problems that have been going on for decades. First we see the natural result, later we see the spiritual cause!
Over the last year social distancing and face masks have become the new norm. We are seeing people spread out and separated which is hindering communication. Face masks also hinder communication because they muffle speech and make it impossible to read lips or facial expressions. It’s harder to communicate with people than ever before. We are seeing the fruit of it in the strife and violence that has overtaken our nation. The irony is many of those who are arguing agree on far more than they disagree about. Unfortunately our differences have been magnified!
The saddest part is many Christians are as divided as the non-believers. Brothers and sisters, this shouldn’t be. The strength of the dog is in the pack and we are at our strongest as the body of Christ when we unify. Think about it, if I chopped up all your body parts and scattered them throughout the house, would you be able to get a lot done? No. The same is true with the body of Christ.
In the early church, when a person accepted Jesus, they immediately joined a body of believers called a church. Why? For instruction in righteousness, for community, and to serve. Let’s look at these three concepts briefly.
Instruction in righteousness. We all need to be taught. We start Christianity as a baby and the goal is for us to grow to a place of maturity and that only happens when we regularly get the milk and meat of the word. God set apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists in the body of Christ to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The 5 fold ministry is responsible for teaching sound doctrine and the NOW word of the Lord. The NOW word is what God is emphasizing corporately NOW throughout the body of Christ. The same way we need to eat fresh food regularly, we need to feed off the fresh manna or NOW word of God regularly.
In Revelation 2 and 3, God gave 7 letters to 7 pastors of the the 7 churches in Asia Minor. The Christians who didn’t go to church didn’t hear the NOW WORD that God was speaking into their lives. Ouch! Many of these churches in Revelation were about to go through immense persecution while another had an open door. If I was alive then, I’d have loved to know what God is saying so I could prepare and be ready.
As a person who serves in one of those offices, even I need to be taught. I have 3 pastors, multiple prophetic voices, and at least two traveling teachers that I have personal relationships with that have a right to pick up the phone any time they want and correct any area of my life. I also listen to what they teach to glean greater insight into the word of God and to learn what they think God is doing in the earth. I want to emphasize the importance of personal relationship. While I regularly watch ministers like Joseph Prince and Creflo Dollar, I don’t know them personally. I’m not accountable to them and they can’t speak into my life. We all need personal relationships with the men and women of God who speak into our lives.
Community. There is an old saying, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. We become like who we are around. When a person gets saved, their best friends should be Christians. We need to leave our old worldly friends behind. We don’t do this from a place of judgment. We offer them the gospel, but if they won’t receive, we move on to follow after Jesus.
Someone reading this is thinking, “Pastor Brian, that’s harsh. Your just a fanatic!” To that I would say, you are correct. I’m all in. I want the best Jesus has for me and I want His will done in my life on earth as it is in heaven. I’m not going to allow a friendship, even a good friendship to hold me back. Jesus died for me. The least I can do is live for Him.
It sounds hard sacrificing ungodly relationships, but trust me its worth it. Everything I thought I sacrificed when God asked me to give up certain friends years ago, He has given me back in abundance. Jesus has given me a great career leading God’s people, a beautiful wife, and so many awesome friends that it would take me 2-3 months to make the rounds going out to dinner every night with each of them! It’s worth it!
The other reason Jesus wants us to live in community is He wants us conformed to the image of love and the only way to do that is to be around other people. For example, when my wife and I got married, we fought like cats and dogs the first year. Why? God put us in a situation that revealed selfishness in each of us, so we had to go to Him and learn how to deny our flesh. One of the reasons Jesus wants us in church is to be around difficult people. He wants to put us in situations that reveal our weaknesses so He can heal them. That only happens in the context of community. This is also why Satan seeks to separate us from godly community!
Serve. You have a purpose the same way every part of your body has a purpose. Your purpose is found in serving the rest of the body the just like the arm’s purpose is to serve the rest of the body. The same way an independent arm has lost its purpose, an independent Christian has lost its earthly purpose.
Our earthly purpose is only found in Christ. God is building a body of believers into a community that will prepare the earth for her King. One of my favorite examples of this is in 2 Corinthians 2:12-13:
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
When we read through that passage, we find that God Almighty opened a door for Paul at Troas and for some reason Titus wasn’t there so God called Paul to Macedonia. Acts 16 gives the rest of the story that God actually woke Paul up with a dream and called him from Troas to Macedonia. This is mind blowing to me! Paul was totally submitted to the will of God in His life and then because Titus wasn’t serving where he was supposed to be serving in Troas, God sent Paul to another city. The town of Troas didn’t get to meet King Jesus because of Titus!
Thank God for His mercy but it grieves me to think about the people who missed their date with destiny because I wasn’t there for them. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I don’t ever want to do that again. We need people and people need us to fulfill God’s plan in the earth. Satan wants to separate us because he wants to hinder us from seeing the will of God done in the earth.
This is an intense article and a bit old school because basically I’m saying give all of your life to Jesus and go to church (yeah the building where people gather not the livestream), and get plugged in…We aren’t called to be islands unto ourselves and only the wolf seeks to separate the sheep from the flock. Satan is behind this division and we need to learn to magnify the thing that unites us – Jesus – above all of our differences.
I know it can be hard to find a good church and if you find a perfect one please don’t go because you’ll mess it up. If you seek God you’ll find the community of believers where you are called to be. Anyway just some thoughts from an old soul with a big heart who wants to see our world turn right side! That will only happen when we turn to God and one another!