The following is chapter 11 of ‘Was Church God’s Idea?’ by Marc Winter. I like the way he has articulated his points. It is quite a thought provoking title to the chapter ‘Jesus, Not Church, Is Our Life’.
Read the chapter with a truly open heart toward God and challenge yourself with these questions and perhaps other questions from Him will also permeate your thoughts as well.
So, what do you think? Is Jesus your life or is ‘church’ your life? Freedom to live for Him or subjugated to man’s doctrines, traditions, rules, and religiosity?
Jesus is our very life,and without His presence with us, we are lifeless. Adam learned this truth when the Lord God said, “In the day you eat of it you shall surely die.”Adam’s body lived on for a while longer, but his real life ended there in the garden abruptly (spiritual death). Moses knew this, as revealed in reading Exodus 33, and the Ekklesia knew it. When Jesus commissioned His Ekklesia, He told them to wait for the Promised Holy Spirit. He knew His presence in the person of the Holy Spirit was essential for confirmation of the message and the work He had commissioned them to do.The disciples were obedient, and from the outpouring of God’s presence in the upper room on, the whole book of Acts and the Epistles attest to the Lord working with them, confirmed by the miraculous.
Exodus 33:11-15: The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. . . Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. . . The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here
Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered (assembled) together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
When even as few as two gather together in faith with the intention of meeting with the Lord, Christ’s supernatural ministry continues.
We are designed to be a part of an ekklesia (assembly or community) of people who have in common our connection to Jesus and to each other, a Kingdom family. Our coming together is Kingdom designed for fellowship (Greek: koinōnia communion)with one another, and simultaneously with our Lord. Our assemblage is not an audience for a single speaker, but a living interactive body much like our human bodies (1 Corinthians 12:18-19, 24, 26). Understanding the reality of the finished work of Calvary will lend untold depth of experience to our coming together. When we understand that a new spiritual reality exists because of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross, it will surely affect our experience in the body. (The fact we are no longer one single, but a part of The One many). In Him we (all) live and move and have our being.For all others who are In Him, we are a part of them. This living, communing, interactive, inter-dependent, uniting, sharing, caring spiritual body was designed by God. This is God’s idea and design; He said, “What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we (collectively and singularly) are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16, AMPLIFIED, parenthesis mine).
Historically, the ekklesia involved in koinōnia felt and experienced a role they had been reborn for; they experienced their Kingdom destiny. They were experiencing a greater reality of higher purpose, and they were no longer just living for themselves. Jesus said, “Everyone will know you are my disciples because you love (Greek – agapaō) one another.” John 13:35“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”1John 3:14
Agapaō translates of persons: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly.
He designed us to be supernaturally connected to one another by His Spirit.Jesus’ own agapaō heavenly love was supernaturally imparted into this group of called-out ones, His Body. This impartation is not into a building, but into living stones.
This living spiritual body of Christ is a real strategic threat to the devil. Each member supplies, so there is not one authoritative leader(s) for the devil to take down or get control over. The spiritual ekklesia is both a whole (body) and contributing parts (living stones).As a living stone, like a starfish when broken apart, each part has life in itself and can generate a whole new body. In the first centuries, as believers fled persecution, they took the Message of new life through Christ with them. This life-giving body and living stones is unstoppable, whereas one or a small group of authoritative leaders attached to a building is a pretty easy target.
The fellowship of the called-out ones is only possible in smaller settings. How can intimacy (koinōnia) be shared among groups of hundreds or thousands? By the Lord’s design, intimate groups can be free flowing, interactive and more likely to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. The functionality is more like a family than a spectator event. The purpose is not to focus on a single human personality (listening to them speak to an audience), but to gather together, interacting as family; everyone has an opportunity to participate in Body life. God’s design for His family meeting is described clearly in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 through 14, and Colossians 3:16. Jesus, through the Spirit, will meet there with us just as He promised. This is the environment God designed for spiritual life.
When reading the New Testament, make note of the references to “one another” and the actions involved. Almost none of these actions are likely sitting in a pew listening to a speaker on a stage: love, forgive, share, comfort, encourage, greet, honor, teach, edify, be kind and compassionate, etc. We have the opportunity to come together to be an audience for “One Head“, the Lord Himself, through the Holy Spirit; One loaf, one blood, one body, one communion, inviting Him to supernaturally knit us together, His Ekklesia, His Community.
Because what we call church was not God’s design, it will not and cannot function as the ekklesia. Still, there are no guarantees that meeting in smaller settings will automatically insure that true koinōnia will take place. Because of the fallen world we inhabit and our self-life sometimes exerting itself or anything distracting from Christ preeminence, all meetings are not heavenly. But we have the opportunity when we assemble in faith to experience the Lord’s presence, and the Kingdom realities of our heart’s desire. If the future holds persecution or other distresses, the mutual care, sharing, and encouragement that can be experienced in intimate settings (community) will be so life giving.
The ekklesia in koinōnia and the demonstrated agapaō is a powerful representation of the risen Christ and His Spiritual Kingdom Family. The witness given is best understood and believed when it is demonstrated, not just talked about