Friday, June 29, 2012


This is very powerful. There is no wealth that can compare with being loved and knowing it.  That is faith’s response to the gospel.  (A phrase from the well known song, “Summertime,” comes to mind: 
 “…Your Daddy’s rich and your Ma is good lookin, so hush little baby, don’t you cry…”
God’s love is not reactive like the kind of love that is only good for friends.  God’s love is redemptive.  It has the power to change the lives of those who believe it.  (Romans 1:16)
Another thing about God’s kind of love is that it is not quantifiable for tax purposes.  Those who are loved are tax exempt in the most important sense of exemption.
In any case, once I saw this, it was very easy to see that both the kingdom and the economy of God had come to earth at Pentecost.  Remember the question of Jesus students/disciples: 
"Lord wilt thou restore at theis time the kingdom to Isarel?"
Restore at this time the economy of Israel?  The financial sovereignty of Israel?  Not in the way they were thinking, and, for the most part, not in the way we have been thinking for two thousand years now with our carnally minded, earth bound point of view.  God had something better in mind. Much better!  But it was only available after the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Information/teaching/(doctrine) is not enough, not even when you get it from the Word of God.  Understanding only comes with, and in the Spirit of God. If we grieve the Spirit, we are bound not to get it!
Around the turn of the century, I had been wrestling with “what came first: the Spirit/chemistry or the body language?” or rather, “the Spirit or the community?”  That brought me to the circumstances that positioned the early Church for Pentecost.
Perhaps Jesus hung around for forty days because He knew they would never make it in the upper room for fifty days.  (The wonder is that they made it for ten.)
It’s not nearly so important what we know as it is who Jesus knows: “Get away from me, I never knew you,” Matthew 7:23.  “Now that you know God or rather are known by God…” Galatians 4:9.  That may have been the last time that the Church ever got into one place in one accord.  The thing that keeps us from being in one accord is all the stuff we think we know, and even the stuff we actually know. 

What is needed is the gift of stupid.  We need to become as little children.  The problem is that we have been trying to substitute knowledge for the power of the Holy Spirit – (Daniel 12:4) information for affirmation.
In the beginning, they didn’t know anything but Jesus.  They came together and wound up in one accord.  The Chemistry of God fell on them all.  Then they began to get to know things.  They especially began to get to know Jesus.  Sad to say, it wasn’t long before the chemistry got smothered.  It is the same today. Very soon they knew too much to come together again, let alone in one accord, Acts 20:29, 30.
In short, we really do need to know “…nothing, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” 1 Corinthians 2:2.  That looks to me like the only way that we are ever going to return to the upper room.  Knowledge not only “puffs up,” 1 Corinthians 8:1. it blows us right out of the Kingdom of God, the Church. “Systematic theology” is an oxymoron.  God is not a system!

It is a matter of doctrine versus life. We could wish it were only “as distinct from life,” but, sad to say, it really is “versus life.”  This doesn’t have to be true if our doctrine is Christ, but more often than not, such claims only turn out to be more lectures and letters; and, oh yes, even books.
After three and a half years of being taught the doctrine of Christ, by quite arguably history’s greatest Teacher, they still didn’t understand.  Not only that, but after the resurrection there were forty more days of post resurrection teaching focused on the Kingdom of God, taught, not just by history’s Greatest Teacher, but by then, resurrected.  (That’s got to be more riveting than a Ph.D., at least, where undivided attention is concerned.)
They flunked the final, Acts 1:1-7.  Or, was it only the mid-term?
A Post Script from me (George Dunn)
Jay wrote: "That may have been the last time that the Church ever got into one place in one accord. The thing that keeps us from being in one accord is all the stuff we think we know, and even the stuff we actually know. What is needed is the gift of stupid. We need to become as little children. The problem is that we have been trying to substitute knowledge for the power of the Holy Spirit"

Amen Jay.  Indeed knowledge puffs up (makes proud)..puffed up like proud peacock showing off for the opposite sex.  I often think of this Proverbs 16:   “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD..." and "God is opposed to the proud but gives lavish favor (grace)  to the hunble."
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is way that seems RIGHT unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Knowledge is not nor does it lead to power - not in the economy of God.  "Knowledge is Power" is the Big Lie of Western civilization. Knowledge leads to pride which is the sin of altitude originating with Lucifer himself:  "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!   For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. "                                      
This is an apt description of Pride from God’s perspective… I WILL ascend!  Being high and mighty might enable one to be above and to assume authority or control over others, but that is not the God's meaning of the power in the Holy Spirit! It is the spirit of control - an unholy spirit!  knowledge makes lofty, heady - proud!  But God,  gives grace to the humble! In Western culture we have substituted knowledge ABOUT (heady stuff) for knowledge OF (hearty stuff).  
The Hebrew word for knowledge is דעת (da’at), a noun derived from the verb ידע (yada) meaning “to know.” The idea of “knowing” in Ancient Hebrew thought is similar to our understanding of knowing but is more personal and intimate. We may say that we “know” someone but simply mean we “know” of his or her existence but, in Hebrew thought one can only “know” someone if they have a personal and intimate relationship. In Genesis 18:19 God says about Abraham “I know him” meaning he has a very close relationship with Abraham. In Genesis 4:1 it says that Adam “knew Eve his wife” implying a very intimate sexual relationship. In a Western sense knowledge of may mean an understanding of human anatomy but in a biblical sense it implies a deep intimacy relationship!
Knowledge (Gnosis in Greek) also has the same implication  Gnosticism, (from gnosis) is a philosophical and religious movement which started in pre-Christian times. It may have had is source in the Jewish community of Alexandria and been later picked up by some Christian groups in Judea and the Galilee.
The name is derived from the Greek word “gnosis” which literally means “knowledge.” However, the English words “Insight” and “enlightenment” capture more of the meaning of “gnosis.” It is pronounced with a silent “G” (NO-sis). Gnosticism is not factual, intellectual, rational knowledge, such as is involved in mathematics and physics science or even theology, that would have been more accurately represented by the Greek word “episteme.” Rather, Gnosis involves the relational or experiential knowledge of God and of the divine or spiritual nature within us. We're not talking RATIONAL but RELATIONAL knowing!
Intimate , experiential  knowledge of the Holy can only produce humility – a bowing down of the heart - not a lifting up or pride so that like Lucifer we  discover that pride is the sin of altitude!  Instead of bowing down low before Him we find ourselves lifted up like some  hot air balloon.

Been there!  done that!
I KNOW! - Look At Me!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Are You Listening?!

"I've written to warn you about those who are trying to deceive you. But they're no match for what is embedded deeply within you—Christ's anointing, no less! You don't need any of their so-called teaching. Christ's anointing teaches you the truth on everything you need to know about yourself and him, uncontaminated by a single lie. Live deeply in what you were taught."
I John 2:26-27 The Message
In this day of Christian celebrities and international multi-media, it is much easier to watch, listen and believe what we see and hear in the flesh rather than to quietly listen to the voice within.
Just this weekend I read about another Christian celebrity, with a worldwide following, who has fallen from his pedestal. I'm sure many of his followers are disappointed, hurt, confused and/or feeling betrayed.
Who really betrayed them? Or did they betray themselves?!
The Lord is no respecter of persons... He does not place us on a pedestal for listening to His voice and hearing the Truth. We need to be careful not to do the same thing because when "the blind lead the blind they both fall into the pit". These celebrities have nothing we don't have if we are truly in Christ. We don't need a "new" anointing to fall on us.... our anointing abides in us... the Christ who is the Truth. He can/will lead us into all Truth if we listen! We need to learn to weigh those other voices, no matter how famous they are or how good they "sound' against His voice within us. He alone IS the Truth and all we ultimately need!
Matthew 24 says there will be many deceivers in the last days and they will be so convincing that "even the elect might be deceived, were it possible". Is it possible that these deceivers may even be deceiving themselves?! Could they be believing that they truly speak FOR God what is in His heart, rather than speaking from what is in their own hearts in response to their own needs/wants?
It is hard for us to truly discern our own motives and often we find ourselves following our desires rather than Christ. Often I believe God speaks a truth to us that He wants shared, but that doesn't mean we are to build our own kingdom on it and take ownership of it for our purposes. As fleshly beings, that is impossible not to do without Him. And to do it with Him means we have to know and hear His voice within us. Only the Lord can discern the true motivations of a man's heart or its voice, so we better listen with His ears rather than our own or we will be following the man and not the Lord.
It is possible that many of these celebrities are distracting us with good teachings, without intent to hurt or harm, but built on a true revelation that is now being "fleshed out" in their own hearts/minds. When the focus changes from His thoughts to ours, we will eventually lead ourselves astray. If we are followed, our followers are as wrong as we are for not waiting and listening for His direction.
Satan also comes as an "angel of light" and loves to lead us astray even if only to distract us from REALLY listening. We need to remember that everything that looks or seems good is not necessarily from the Lord and should be taken as His will for that moment. Good things are good things, but we are not necessarily meant to do every good thing that comes along, even though we are to do good. God is always working for the good and God is good, but all that appears good is not necessarily from God for us to do or to listen to and follow. Satan can be just as effective distracting us as he can be in destroying us. Either way we are rendered ineffective in His Kingdom.
Faith without works is dead, but works without the Holy Spirits inspiration are just works. If we really listen, we might find that much of what we are hearing from these Christian celebrities, we already know, but are too lazy or distracted to put into practice by thinking for ourselves.
It scares me how caught up Western Christians are in following the men who dwell among us, who are still nothing more than men, rather than the Jesus who indwells us!
Yes, He can and does speak through others to us, but first and foremost, He wants to have a personal relationship, speaking TO us, from His place within us. Let us learn to become better listeners and test what we hear from without, against what we hear from within. Listening to voices who (supposedly) speak for Christ, is a poor substitute for hearing and obeying the voice of Christ within us.
I think we often feel/think that because these men have greater intellect, education, charisma, whatever, we NEED them and their teachings to discern His will for our lives. He may use men to instruct, motivate, convict, encourage, etc. but it is only beneficial to us to the degree that it is Him doing it through them. Let’s face it folks, He spoke through an ass to achieve his purpose. The key element was that it was Him doing the speaking. He loves and values the ignorant, penniless, uneducated, true believer, every bit as much as the educated, intellectual believer.
It is man that makes them celebrities not God.
He loves us JUST BECAUSE He loves us...not for who we are, but because of who He is. He speaks to you and I with the same voice and wisdom that He speaks to them..... the question is;
"Are we listening to Him?"
We don't need to listen to men to hear what He is saying to us, but we do need to listen to Him to know if what they are saying to us is Truth. We must know that He is speaking to us through them.

"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him."
"I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice..."

"My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind."

John 10: The Message
by Nancy Demaray

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Intimacy: A Post Mortem

The word intimacy stems from the Latin intimus; to make something known to someone else. Another derivation is the verb 'intimate,' which originally meant "to notify." In its original meaning, in other words, intimacy did NOT mean emotional closeness but the willingness to pass on honest information.

There has been something churning inside me and it is time to get it out. I will try to say it as plainly as I can. What I am feeling is a deep sadness, a grieving and a deep sense of loss!

What I sense is that it is time we prepare to mourn the death of intimacy.

In our post-modern world of electronic wizardry and gadgetry - of superficial social media - of texts and tweets - we find words like intimacy, vulnerability, transparency, openness, and heart to heart communication forgotten and almost eliminated from the English language. What is true in Western society at large is also true within the redeemed community - the church of Jesus Christ.

Convinced that "communication is the life blood of relationship" my diagnosis is that the body of Christ is suffering from acute spiritual anemia. She is weak, almost lifeless and lacking in divine energy. She is badly in need of a transfusion!

The church - the body of Christ, is the visible earth bound expression or extension of the life and order of heaven. She is, by nature, first incarnational and then relational! This corporate redeemed community, this community of care and concern, this Ekklesia of God is made up of brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a living breathing entity - a family!

This church of which I speak is NOT an organization but an organism.

She is vibrant - radiant - full of life and purpose for she is animated by the very life of God! She is His spiritual house, His temple, His dwelling place and His "church" - which is built of living stones!

Alas, multitudes of those who proudly wear the label "Christian" have settled for much less than divine life. Many have literally traded their birthright as sons and daughters of the most high for a superficial form of godliness; for a set of precepts; for a belief/value system; or for a new religious set of do's and dont's. The incarnational has been usurped by the institutional.

Instead of relation we have chosen religion!

Though they sound similar, they are in no way the same!

The origin of Religion

The English word religion has an interesting etymology. Most linguistic scholars believe that religion is derived from the Latin re (an emphatic) + ligare (meaning 'to bind'). Hence, the literal meaning of the word religion is "to bind tightly or “to bind fast” meaning “to place an obligation upon.” This is the very nature of religion. It is indeed obligatory. Religion binds a person or group to a set of precepts, to a system of prescribed beliefs, creeds and/or doctrines - too a particular intellectual or theological understanding of holy writ - to certain required religious actions or behaviors (e.g. church attendance, prayer, fasting or alms-giving) - to a moral code, or to certain ceremonial observances (special holy days, seasons, feasts and festivals). Most of all, religion binds one to a set of do's and don'ts or thou shalts and thou shalt nots!

A second but not as widely accepted origin of the English word religion,  is the Latin religiens - meaning "a particular system of faith."  Today, this is the most commonly understood meaning of religion.

A religion is simply a system of faith or belief.

A system is defined as an organized set of interrelated ideas or principles. The key word is organized. It is from the word organize that we derive the word organization. Most churches begin defining the nature of the organization with a corporate charter or bylaws detailing the nature of the organization.  This document with a statement of faith - We believe...  This document enumerates their core beliefs and/or values and practices.   A phrase often included in many church statements of faith or purpose and goes something like this:  The local church is a group of believers organized for the purpose or purposes of (e.g. evangelism. equipping god's people through preaching and teaching sound doctrine, to promote  fellowship, and ... (you may fill in the blanks with your favorite spiritual terminology).  the key phrase is "Organized for the purpose of!"

So there you have it.  Much like the American corporation, the 'church' sees itself as a group people or  a congregation possessing common beliefs and values and which is organized for a purpose, albeit a divine purpose.  Hence we have, The Purpose Driven Church!

Throughout history reformers have set about to re-engineer, re-organize, reinvent, revitalize and reform this 'corporate' community - the church. The modern day seeker friendly movement and the emergent movement are two recent examples. The goal of many of these movements is to make the church more relevant, more acceptable, more responsive or more palatable to the tastes of the modern generation.  My father used to call this 'dressing it up' or putting a new suit on the old man instead of putting a new man in the suit:  doing whatever suits us.

In other words, what we are really saying is that what we need is not a new driver but a shiny new car. What we need is NOT the life of God transmitted by the Spirit and incarnated within the redeemed community but a better leaner more attractive and dynamic organization. Instead of a new corporate man we seek a new Christianized corporate paradigm - a culturally and more socially relevant institution.  What is required is what is desired: - not a radical transformation but a cool hip modern Jesus with whom we can identify because He is more like us!

This modern day market place Christian paradigm is best expressed by the sign on the office wall of one very successful pastor. The Sign reads:

What Is Your Product?
Who is Your customer?

The church that Jesus is building however, is NOT an organization with a mission. Christianity is NOT just another religion ABOUT Jesus but a relationship WITH Jesus! Jesus Christ is NOT just another prophet, sage, philosopher, teacher, rabbi, wise man or spiritual visionary or celestial corporate CEO.    He did NOT come to open a window of enlightenment or to teach us about the ways to God.  He was NOT some spiritual guru who came to teach us the deeper truths about God.

He WAS God!
He IS God.

As mind blowing as it may seem, Jesus said of himself:

I AM the door!
I AM the way!
I AM the truth!
I AM the life!
No man comes to the Father but by Me!"

Jesus did NOT come to show or teach us some new way of doing church...


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Good News?

There's a lot of confusion about the Gospel these days. For the last week or so (yeah I know know you're not supposed to begin a sentence with a preposition), I have been seriously exploring the subject of "What is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation." I was intending to blog on this subject. I'm sure I will - sooner or later. However, in the process of looking for the good news, I found myself pondering all the other gospels that have been and are being marketed in our world. It seems we keep changing the product to suit the consumer rather than the opposite!

A few months ago Nancy and I had the genuine pleasure of going car shopping. In the light of that glorious experience I found myself thinking about the subject of "the selling of The Good News." You know, that might be a darn good name for a daily newspaper - The Good News. Of course, then what would you print?

In the 'spirit' of the times, I have identified seven different gospel pitches
that are being used in the marketplace today (that's salesman talk for gospel presentations). I'm sure you've heard of 'marketplace ministry'. In line with that thought; I have come up with what I believe to be an excellent marketing slogan for some future evangelistic campaigns. I have used this slogan in conjunction with the seven most popular gospels being preached today. The slogan is:
"Boy do I have Good News for you!

There may be other gospels being presented today that I have missed, but these seem to be the strongest and best closes - (that's salesman talk for making the sale or closing the deal or getting a buying decision). Although seven IS the number of completeness, if perhaps you should come up with any I have missed, and I doubt that you can, please do not hesitate to e-mail them to me.

The Seven Modern Gospel Closes

Real Estate Close: Does the idea of living in Paradise appeal to you? Would you like streets of gold, pure clean fresh water and TREES! How about your own mansion?! If you think you can't afford it then, boy do I have good news for you!

Fear Close: Are you afraid of death? Do you want to go to hell and burn and scream forever and ever?! Do you cringe at the thought of spending eternity with Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Ted Bundy, Richard Speck, all of the Hells Angels and Homer Simpson? If so, then boy do I have good news for you!

Guilt Close: You know you've done bad things in your life, don't you?! - things for which you are ashamed. Have you hurt people in the past? Ever had a naughty thought? Bent the rules? Lied? Did you ever STEAL A POST IT NOTE FROM WORK - maybe even cheated on your Taxes? Do you know you are a sinner and that God's gonna' pay you back someday?! Did you know that the payment for sin is DEATH!! If that sounds like bad news to you then, boy do I have good news for you!

Kings Kid Close: Are you poor? Having trouble making ends meet? Unhappy? Stuck in a rut? Middleclass? Are you driving a used car, a minivan or perhaps a Geo!? Are you living your dreams? Are you worried about the future? Do you find yourself thinking, 'Is this all there is'? How's your 401-K? Since you only have one, 'Do you want your best life now?!' Are you rich? If you answered yes to any of these questions, boy do I have good news for you!

The Insurance Close: If you're a dirty rotten stinkin' sinner under an eternal sentence of death and hell and you know that someday God is going to fry you like a piece of bacon in a hot greased skillet - then, boy do I have good news for you!

Intellectual Close: Would you like to learn secrets that have been hidden from the foundation of the world - ancient truths which only a predestined few are privileged to understand (I'm a Calvinist)? Would you like to outlive your friends, family and all your associates? How about the opportunity to become a respected member of an tightly knit and exclusive community? Would you like to become a Bible scholar? Maybe even an Usher! Even earn a Thd?! If this appeals to you, then boy do I have good news for you!

Social Close: Are you lost? Lonely or new in town? Do you miss your family? Would you like a chance to meet some new and exciting people? Are you looking for a place to belong? To make new friends? Would you like to learn to sing in a choir? Work in a nursery? Maybe even park cars? Do you need something to do on Sundays? Do you enjoy 'ever learning'? Do you like drama or music and the arts? AIR CONDITIONING?!! How about Starbucks coffee! Do you like donuts? (that's for my unsaved policeman friends). Would you like to learn to dance? If your answer is yes to any of the above then, boy do I have good news for you!

Well that's my seven. I have to admit that over time I had bought into every one of these paradigms - some more than once! A few kept me at the altar almost every week! Then it happened! I finally heard "the gospel" (the key word here is heard) - The REAL GENUINE good news of God in Jesus Christ and I learned that I could become a new person, a new creation - as a result of what Jesus did for me on that cross!

Now, the old George is dead. Hallelujah.!!! However, I may still have some of his jaded sense of humor - but I'm getting better! Hey, thanks for logging on and by the way, if you're offended then I really am sorry. I didn't mean to do it. I just couldn't help myself. But please, be patient with me - God isn't through with me yet!

As the saying goes, "This temple is still under construction"!

One last thing - Boy have I got good news for you!

I'm done!

George Dunn, that is - (family joke).



Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Called Out Ones- Pt. 1

I believe that within modern Christianity we have a serious problem. Because of the emphasis being placed on "the church” rather than on Christ, there are many people who have been converted to the church or institution, to a worship style, a set of precepts or doctrines, to a theological system, a denomination or to a movement or a Sunday worship experience rather than to Jesus Christ.

I was one of these for many years. Born and raised in 'the church' I was institutionalized, but not regenerate. I was safe from the “world” but not saved. I was the product of a Christian religious system but not of the new birth by the Holy Spirit.

As Tom Skinner used to say:
The gospel is not about the church. It’s not about going to church or joining the church. The gospel is about Jesus Christ. The root of the word Christian is CHRIST. C H R I S T - i a n - “Christ in you, living His life through you - without any help or assistance from you!”

To quote the late Keith Green:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to Mc Donald’s makes you a hamburger.”
History reveals that the early followers of Jesus did not call themselves Christians. In actuality they often referred to themselves as "the Way". They wore no denominational labels and were primarily called by their given names like, Bill, Sue, Corneleus, Nicodemas or of course, George.
The term Christian was a label placed upon the early believers by the surrounding pagan culture of the first century. It was because of their radical identification with Jesus Christ, which bordered on obsession, that “they were called Christians first in Antioch”.
It is true that the prevailing culture always seeks to identify or vilify any new sociological phenomenon by giving it a label - so, they labeled these Christ followers as "Christians". When you read how these early followers of Jesus were persecuted and even martyred, it is obvious that the term “Christian” was a derogatory label - much as we might identify followers of Sun Yung Moon as Moonies! I think “those Christians” was said more with a sneer than with a smile or with adoration.
Much of our Western obsession with the primacy of “the church" finds its roots in a single encounter with our Lord and Peter. The Lord asks Peter:
"Who do you say that I am?"
Peter's reply:
“You are the Christ the Son of the Living God!"
Our Lord’s response to Peter's statement of faith was;
Blessed are you Simeon Bar Jonah for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. And I say that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church (ekklesia in Greek or 'called out ones') and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”
The mistake we have made when we have read of our Lord's reference to the Greek ekklesia or "church", is that we have placed the emphasis on the wrong thing! We have put the emphasis on the word “church” rather than where it belongs! It properly belongs on the revelation (or epi gnosis) of the diety of Jesus Christ.
Jesus says to Simeon, “What you have just said, Simeon; that I am the Messiah the son of the living god is not something you have figured out for yourself. It's not just some new 'truth" . It is more than some memorized creed or knowledge (gnosis). You didn’t figure this out for yourself but what you have professed is a revelation which came directly from my father in heaven. And so I tell you, that upon this revelation I will build my ekklesia - my church - my called out ones - my congregation.”
But we Christians have a problem. We immediately recognize the words “build” and “church”. It does not require much of a stretch of the imagination to construe that our Lord is going to “build” something called a church. Since Jesus was a carpenter’s son it is natural to assume that He (Jesus) is talking about constructing some natural edifice. If only Jesus had Home Depot...!
But there is more to our Lord's reply than meets the eye. Let’s look at this statement again. I will use bold and CAPS to signify where I believe we place emphasis and where it should be!
And upon this rock I will BUILD my CHURCH”...
As opposed to “And upon this rock (this revelation) I will build MY church!"
I believe our Lord’s emphasis is on I & MY.
My church, My called out ones, My ekklesia, My congregation as opposed to someone else's
My My My!
Because of our cultural christian conditioning, it is true that for almost all of us the English word “church” is a loaded word. It is pregnant with meaning and imagery. It is a word that immediately paints a religious word picture. Be honest.
When I say the word “Church” what do you see?
Most people see a building – a sacred space – a place set aside for the purpose of gathering to worship. If it was our Lords intention to refer to a religious gathering, why did He not use the term synagogue? Peter, as a Jew, would have immediately understood the Lord’s reference as meaning a sacred space where Jewish believers gathered to worship and read the Torah or words of God given to Moses . Peter would have instantly gotten the picture. But, for some strange reason our Lord chose a secular governmental GREEK word - ekklesia - instead of synagogue or even "temple". Interesting! Is this perhaps significant?! (we will explore the implications of this further in a subsequent article).
Given my early childhood christian cultural conditioning, when I hear of the word church I immediately remember this little rhyme I learned in Sunday school.
This is the church and this is the steeple
Open the doors and see all the people!
Hmmmmm, Church, steeple, doors, people.
The truth is that the ekklesia or church of Jesus Christ, is NOT a gathering to worship or even a place of worship. The ekklesia of God is a people, His family, the called out community of the redeemed to whom He "adds daily those who are being saved" (i.e. born again of the Spirit). Jesus’ church, as scripture attests, is built with living stones! It is a living, breathing spiritual entity which only HE builds - not an edifice or organization which WE build!
Though the church, the redeemed of the Lord, will gather or congregate, it is not the act of gathering that makes it a church - no more than gathering or congregating around the dinner table in a home makes you a family. "Church" an organic term that describes an organic or blood relationship - a people - a family - offspring of God - the called out of the Lord.

It is a fact that within western Christendom there are millions of believers who are leaving or have left the institutional church or organized religion. Despite the phenomenon of the mega-church, statistically, church attendance and membership in America and in the Western world is in serious decline! As George Barna points out, the current exodus from the institutional church cannot be attributed solely to rugged American individualism, or the "just me and Jesus" or 'Lone Ranger' mentality! This 'going out' is not just because people are disgruntled, desiring a less restrictive environment or because they are apostate. It is not necessarily because they are rebellious against authority or not willing to "be accountable".
For many it is not because they are no longer desirous of "fellowship" or closeness with our Lord and each other - IT IS BECAUSE THEY ARE!!
I believe that for many, not all, this exodus from traditional 'church' structures is the result of a deep desire for something more! It is an expression of a desire to experientially know Christ - not only individually but also within the context of corporate community life.

Although the perception of many is that these “marginal Christians” are “dropping out”, quitting God or “backsliding”, this is not necessarily the case. Leaving the institutional church for many is not running away FROM something but running TO something. For many "defectors" it is a breaking free from legalism and the religious performance trap. It represents a reaching out for a deeper and more intimate relationship with God and brothers and sisters in Christ.
The one word which I think sums it all up is a desire for
It is about the pursuit of a personal intimate loving relationship for which there is no satisfying substitute.
Though some are simply leaving for whatever reason, still many others are being “called out” which is the essence of the word church. Many are leaving their nets, their religious preoccupations because they hear hearing a clear clarion call to “Come follow Me!”
To me this "being called out" is indeed a sign that our Lord is still building HIS church.
My own personal call to come follow me and subsequent exodus from organized religion has made it possible for me to "grow up" and to learn to function as something more than just a Sunday spectator. It has challenged and empowered me to grow in intimate fellowship with the Lord and with His people. I have grown into a discovery of my unique person-hood and position in Christ. I have begun to mature and have learned to be an instrument of His love to others.
Instead of being a 'Christian consumer' I am becoming a giver, a builder and a channel of God’s grace and love to others. Instead of doing for Jesus, I am learning to focus on becoming like Jesus! Instead of being on the sidelines, sitting on the bench or pew as a passive observer or paying consumer, I have become an active participant! Instead of being a perpetual spiritual infant crying to be fed, I am growing up in the Lord, maturing and learning to feed not only myself but others. Instead of remaining in a state of perpetual infancy, I am growing and moving towards spiritual maturity. Instead of being a child I am becoming a son!
I must admit this has not been an easy road to travel. Since being called out of my Christian comfort zone, much of my journey has been spent wandering in the wilderness. It has often been a lonely, difficult and painful experience but growing pains are a part of growing up and, as my athletic daughter loves to say, "No pain no gain."
Modern Christianity or “Churchianity” often refers to the need to reach 'the unchurched', as though integrating everyone into 'the institutional church' or 'building the church' organization is God’s ultimate purpose. I do not find the concept of the churched or unchurched anywhere in the New Testament. The two groups I see are the saved or redeemed and the unsaved or lost. We, as believers desperately need to acknowledge that "the church" or building the church is not the reason d'etre or end all and be all of the plans and purposes of God. Our Lord is not building an institution, a denomination, organization, or a new religious system.
Jesus IS building His church, His ekklesia, Hiscalled out” ones, His body!
The scriptures attest that what our Lord is building, He is building out of living stones! It is His Church (ekklesia), a spiritual house which He 'edifies' (builds up) to the praise of His glory. It is His and not OURS and personally, I don’t think He needs our help half as much as we think He does.
It is imperative we understand that Jesus did NOT come to create a new religious system to replace Judaism or Paganism!
God’s ultimate purpose has always been to have a people for Himself - children, offspring, sons and daughters – a family! God’s new creation is His body which is a living breathing expression of Himself - an extension of the life and order of heaven.
The church is not an organization but a living organism!
Our calling is not about "building" a house for the Lord as did Solomon for we are told: "Our God does not dwell in temples made with hands."
He dwells in US!
"Know you not that YOU are the temple of the Holy Spirit!"
It is neither a divine institution nor a new religion but Christ in you (and I ) that is the hope of glory!