Exposing and Overcoming Rebellion

There were many years in my Christian life when I was stubborn and rebellious. It took about three years for me to learn to submit to the Holy Spirit’s direction to put my grocery cart where it belongs in the parking lot. And it took more years than I want to admit to learn to listen to my wife, Ayana, and take her advice without arguing and having a bad attitude about it.

I remember one day when I was praying fervently for my ministry to grow and how God got my attention about my rebellious behavior toward Ayana. I was crying out to God and saying, “Oh, Lord, I rebuke the devil! God, please let my ministry grow so I can help more people.” Then He very clearly spoke to my heart and said, “Andre’, I cannot do one more thing in your ministry until you do what I’ve told you to do concerning your wife.”   

This was so hard for me. My rebellious attitude had developed throughout my childhood when I was struggling to survive the abuse I experienced almost daily from my dad. I vowed to myself then that when I was able to leave home and be on my own, I would never let anyone tell me what to do again. So it took awhile for me to let the Holy Spirit heal the wounds in my soul and teach me how to submit to the authority He put in my life.

Giving Up Rebellion Will Get You Out of Trouble

If you’ve got a mess in your life, there’s a good chance you haven’t been doing what God’s been telling you to do. However, if you will start making right choices, God will give you the ability to get through it and things will turn around for you. But be prepared, because when you start making an effort to be submissive, your flesh is going to have a screaming fit and you’ll need to spend a lot of tyme on your knees.

You may be wondering, If it’s so hard to do, why should I care? Because God withholds blessings from the rebellious for their own good – if He blesses disobedience, it will breed more disobedience.

I can honestly tell you that if I hadn’t surrendered my rebellious heart to God, my marriage wouldn’t be good, my relationship with God would have suffered, and my ministry wouldn’t have grown. You see, rebellion, and the disobedience it causes, keeps us from having the power of God that’s available to us as Christians. I don’t think there’s anyone who would say they don’t want or need more of God’s power in their life.

The Dangers of Rebellion and the Way Out

We need to know what rebellion is to really understand why it’s so dangerous. Rebellion is not just outward behavior but it’s an attitude problem and a heart issue. It resists authority, is likened to witchcraft in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:23), makes us unprofitable (Hebrews 13:17), and brings judgment upon us (see Romans 13:1-2). These are just a few results.

But the good news is, we don’t have to live this way. I’m living proof that God can heal and change your heart to be submissive to His authority, as well as the people in authority over you that He puts in your life.

There’s a popular scripture that says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV). The word delight means “to be pliable and moldable in God’s hand.” So if you will be pliable in His hands, allow God to mold your heart, and do with you, in you and through you what He wants to do, then He will give you the desires of your heart.

I say this often and it bears repeating here: Anything God asks you to do is for your benefit. He always has your best interest at heart. And He’ll never ask you to do something without also giving you the ability to do it. 

We just need to spend a lot of tyme with Him, learn to trust Him completely, and submit our will to Him. As you do these things, the Holy Spirit will faithfully lead you out of trouble and into the life that Jesus died to give you – a life of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!

Embracing Change and Struggles

Seasons in life bring along struggles and strengths that need to be recognized and embraced, God schedules every season in your life but He doesn’t post the schedule for you to see and that’s what makes living so difficult.

We need to endure the current phase instead of trying to accelerate it and the importance of knowing that a season is experienced according to the way a person speaks and thinks about it.
Christian need to focus on not envying another person’s season that might appear to be better off, which I have personally experienced, but rather acknowledging that everyone is fighting a struggle to get to the next phase of their life.

Here’s my problem, I always want to skip to the next [season]. “It always seems that the season I’m in is not the most comfortable and I’ve struggled with this all my life.”
The problem is when we look at other people’s lives, we only see how high the tree goes, and we don’t see how deep the roots are planted. You only see the fruit, not the fight they went through to have it.

You probably won’t admit this, but there is a part of you that looks at other people, the season that they’re in, the success that they enjoy, the place in life where they’ve arrived and you’re thinking, ‘if only I can get there.

God wants to free us from this continual straining and striving to live in someone else’s season because even if you can live their season but it isn’t your calling, you won’t like it when you live there.

The sooner someone realizes that phases come along with struggles, the sooner they can enjoy the season that they are in. He also noted that people who are in a “winning” season are “playing hurt,” while emphasizing that those who reach a point of success and happiness have had to initially pay a price. When you see what other people have or have done that you haven’t been able to do, there’s always an asterisk.

You have to take pride in the progress and purpose of your season because it has purpose.

Although seasons pass according to God’s timing, oftentimes a person can accelerate their season by being obedient to Him and it can also be prolonged based on disobedience. Did you know that God has given you the power to label your life with the words that you speak about it? What separates people who walk by faith to sense God’s purpose from those who go through life aimlessly is what they choose to call the season that they’re in.

What you say about it, determines how you will experience that season … it will take on the characteristics of your description. The present is the moment in which a season needs to be embraced instead of trying to rush through it and expecting the next phase to be the one in which change and transition will be achieved.

When you defer hope to the future, you miss the fact that you’re standing in it right now!

Photo(s)/Resource(s): PSF

The God on the Mountain is Still God in the Valley

“God is there with you in your greatest success and also in the lowest point of your life.”The God of the good times is still God in the bad times!”
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The verses of this Christian song inspired me to write this article. It is so true, that when things are going fine in our lives, we speak boldly and are able to advice others in what they should do and how, but when we ourselves are going trough rough times we seem to suddenly forget all the good advice we gave to others. It happens, doesn’t it?

Life is full of surprises and especially nowadays God is preparing His children for the final battle. The valleys we manage to pass trough are tests where we have to keep our eyes on the image seen on the mountain, because there is our final destination, in God’s glory. How do you know that you won’t die like a martyr for Christ?

Have you ever wondered about the strength a martyr must have to die for Christ? Would you be prepared to die for Jesus now? If not, why not?

I suppose not many of us are 100% ready or think that would have the strength to die for the Son of God as martyrs did this very moment; indeed we hear about Christians being persecuted in some countries but the Bible says that when the Antichrist comes, God’s children will be oppressed. Severe persecution will they suffer because it will be worst than ever. Will we be able to stand if we were to pass through such hardships?

Well, if you answered “not now” to the question of being ready to give your own life for Christ at this moment, do not be surprised that because you are a child of God, your Heavenly Father allows tests in your life. His tests are not to put you down or to discourage you, He wants you to grow spiritually, to be strong enough for what is to come and to be able to stand in that evil day.

Don’t let your heart weary and worry about the methods God is going to use in your case! He knows what you need, He loves you intensely that’s why He is training your spiritual muscles! He will never give you more than what you can bear!

Every single trial teaches you a lesson, a precious lesson that will enable you to go forward, take another step of faith, higher and higher on God’s way to Heaven. Within every difficulty God has already prepared the way out and we are to find it with Him side by side as He NEVER abandons us in this process; what’s more, once the test is over, we are enriched with more love, more wisdom, more knowledge and are able to help others who go through the same valley.

Therefore, if you are in a valley at this moment, do not be sad! Rejoice! Oh I know it is not easy (I also know the taste of some valleys) but God will come when you call Him! He is there the whole time and you are not alone! What’s more, He is on your side, just like you have been with your children when they learned how to walk, and He is teaching you to walk on His ways, holding your hand, pointing the way, lifting you up when you fall. That’s why you should rejoice, be glad for the outcome of your test, take joy in the fact that you will receive more of God’s character, more of His love, more of His power and that will only make you want even more of what God has in store for you.

I will let you now enjoy the verses of this beautiful and inspiring song and may you always remember that God is with you up on the mountain as well as down in the valley:

“Life is easy when you’re up on the mountain
And you’ve got peace of mind like you’ve never known
But things change when you’re down in the valley
Don’t lose faith for you’re never alone!

You talk of faith when you’re up on the mountain
But talk comes so easy when life’s at its best
Now it’s down in the valley of trials and temptations
That’s where your faith is really put to the test.

For the God on the mountain
Is still God in the valley
When things go wrong He’ll make them right
And the God of the good times is God in the bad times
The God of the DAY is still God in the NIGHT.”

Photo(s)/Resource(s): Claudia Miclaus

The Gamble

The_Gambler_by_xToasterTheBraveMatthew 27:35-37

The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus’ clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus’ head with the charge against him written on it. The sign said: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (ERV) Full Text Below

They casts lots and gambled for Jesus’ clothes as he bled and died on the cross in front of a mocking mob and in unspeakable agony. How does that strike you? Repulsively, repugnantly, despicably cruel!

Think about it a minute or two longer. Those who reject Jesus’ death today are gambling with higher stakes and rejecting greater evidence.

These soldiers were not gambling just for Jesus’ clothes, they were also gambling that he was just another piece of criminal scum that it was their job to execute. So as they were partners in this brutality, they were gambling that what others had told them about Jesus was correct—that he wasn’t the Christ, wasn’t the Son of God, wasn’t the King of the Jews, and wasn’t their Savior. But what evidence did they have to believe Jesus? Very little, until the crucifixion scene was finished and Jesus breathed his last words. Then, after seeing the things that had transpired, one of the soldiers had seen another set of facts and decided, “Surely this was the Son of God.”

Those who reject Jesus today, not only reject the judgment of this soldier, but also the transformation of the frightened and hidden disciples who did not expect his resurrection and then became world-beaters after they had seen their resurrected Lord. They reject the testimony of millions of believers over the centuries. They reject the witness of Scripture, which has gone through countless attempts to silence and eradicate its message, but has endured only to inspire more and more believers.

Jesus died for sinners. Jesus died for you. Jesus died for me. Every time we take these words lightly or outright reject them, or something in between, we are gambling that Jesus’ death wasn’t God’s work and our salvation. It makes the soldiers’ wager seem pretty tame, doesn’t it?

Then Pilate’s soldiers brought Jesus into the governor’s palace. All the soldiers gathered around Jesus. The soldiers took off Jesus’ clothes and put a red robe on him. Then the soldiers used thorny branches to make a crown. They put this crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, and they put a stick in his right hand. Then the soldiers bowed before Jesus and teased him. They said, “Hello, king of the Jews!” The soldiers spit on Jesus. Then they took his stick and hit him on the head many times. After they finished teasing Jesus, the soldiers took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led Jesus away to be killed on a cross.

The soldiers were going out of the city with Jesus. The soldiers forced another man there to carry the cross for Jesus. This man’s name was Simon from Cyrene. They came to the place called Golgotha. (Golgotha means “The Place of the Skull.”) At Golgotha, the soldiers gave Jesus wine to drink. This wine was mixed with gall. Jesus tasted the wine but refused to drink it. The soldiers nailed Jesus to a cross. Then the soldiers gambled with dice to decide who would get Jesus’ clothes. The soldiers sat there and continued watching Jesus. The soldiers put a sign above Jesus’ head with the charge against him written on it.

The sign said: “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Two robbers were nailed to crosses beside Jesus. One robber was put beside Jesus on the right and the other was put on the left. People walked by and said bad things to Jesus. People shook their heads and said, “You said you could destroy the temple and build it again in three days. So save yourself! Come down from that cross, if you are really the Son of God!” The leading priests, the teachers of the law, and the older Jewish leaders were also there. These men teased Jesus the same as the other people. They said, “He saved other people. But he can’t save himself! People say he is the king of Israel (the Jews). If he is the king, then he should come down now from the cross. Then we will believe in him. He trusted God. So let God save him now, if God really wants him. He himself said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” And in the same way, the robbers that were being killed on crosses beside Jesus also said bad things to him.

— Matthew 27:27-44 (ERV)

Photo(s)/Resource(s):  heartlight.org

Misfit Toys in the Kingdom of God: why it’s great to be a jack-in-the-box named Charlie

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Do you ever feel like a character from Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys? Feel like an outsider who often finds yourself living on the margins, chronically misunderstood by all the other toys who aren’t on Misfit Island?

Me too.

A lot of the time, I feel like a Jack-In-The-Box named “Charlie”:

It strikes me that central to the human condition is a need/desire to be part of a tribe, to be included, and to be valued for your own uniqueness. As I look back, I can see that through each of the chapters I’ve experienced I have consistently sought feelings of belonging, acceptance, and identity. I’ve always wanted to be part of the tribe.

But, more times than not, I’ve looked to my left and to my right only to realize that I’ve typically found myself pushed to the margins. Not quite in. Not quite out. Sort of a “no mans land”. The harder I worked to feel “in”, the more I realized I was “out”. Which, only exacerbated the unquenched longings of the soul for someone who doesn’t realize they are a misfit toy in the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps the most freeing moment of my life, was standing in front of the mirror and finally seeing the reality that I’m a jack-in-the-box named Charlie… and that the sooner I quit wishing my name were Jack, the quicker I stopped pretending my name were Jack… the sooner I could get busy figuring out what being a kingdom person is all about. As I’ve continued to walk this road, I’ve discovered some truths which not only make being a misfit toy in the Kingdom of God more bearable, but actually beautiful and encouraging. I have discovered that people who understand they are misfit toys are Jesus’ favorite kind of people.

The twelve disciples? Misfit toys that included tax collectors who betrayed their own people and violent terrorists (zealots) against the state.

The people Jesus hung out with? Misfit toys that included prostitutes and drunks. In fact, these people were the friends he seemed to hang out with and shared meals with the most… so much so, that he was accused of being a glutton and drunkard.

The people who were fascinated with Jesus and followed him around for the right reasons? It wasn’t those religiously superior, but the misfit toys… a woman who hadn’t left her house in years because she was considered unclean and a cast-off of society, a short tax collector who wanted to catch a glimpse of Jesus so badly, he climbed a tree, a member of the religious elite who realized he was a misfit toy and sneaked out to see Jesus in the night, a prostitute who poured an expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus’ feet which infuriated the disciples… Jesus loved spending time with misfit toys.

On Saturday afternoon I had to take my daughter’s bike in to have a new tire put on it. The gentleman who helped us was a very interesting person: a one handed bicycle assembler who said he had the “best job ever”. Noticing his thin body, gray hair, missing fingers on his right hand and the absence of a good portion of his teeth, I realized he was someone that many would just pass by. And, I’m sure they do– one of the things he told me as we chatted for a while was “I love this job because they leave me alone”. Yet for some reason, I found him to be a deeply compelling person and inexplicably craved to sit and visit with him… so, I pulled up a chair, and asked him his story. As we talked, and as he completely refurbished a bike tire with one hand, the thought struck me that this is what Jesus felt like sometimes. He just liked hanging out with the misfits, the forgotten, the overlooked… the one handed bicycle assemblers. I must had listened to 10 sermons online that week, and did countless passage studies in Greek, but I felt closer to the heart of Jesus as I listened to his story than I had in a long time.

Society and the religious ruling class have always despised misfit toys… as the saying goes, there’s “nothing new under heaven”. But Jesus? He loved them. He spent all his time with them. He received them and didn’t condemn them… in fact, one of the last times Jesus went to church, he told the conservative religious leaders that “the tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of Heaven before you!”

A crazy claim, both then and now.

How is it that misfit toys discover and embrace life in the Kingdom of God before the religious elite? I think it’s for three reasons:

1. Misfit toys know we are misfit toys… we’re already aware we are outsiders and don’t need a lot of convincing.

We already know we’re outsiders; we’ve already processed the grief of exclusion and have learned to be at peace with it. However, being at peace with being an outsider at the margins has better prepared us to accept the invitation to follow Jesus- misfit toys wait and wait to be invited into the party, to be included and embraced, and when Jesus extends such an invitation, they naturally respond to the offer they always wanted.

Religious elite, on the other hand, are lulled into an intoxicated religious state which causes them to completely miss the invitation, and completely miss their need to accept it.

Parable of the Banquet

One day, Jesus was having lunch at the house of a religious conservative. While they were eating, Jesus expressed to him this very truth when he told him a story about a man who threw a big party. In the story, the host of the party sent out a bunch of invitations to all the people he thought were his friends, but none of them showed up to the party. Instead, the man rescinded his invitation to friends, and instead went out into the alleys and streets, inviting in the “poor, crippled, blind, and lame”, who all responded to the invitation, and came to the party.

The people you thought would be in, were out- and the people you thought would be out, were in. This is because misfit toys are primed and ready to be a part of the Kingdom of God, and are often first to accept the invitation.

2. Misfit toys tend grasp the message of Jesus easier than the religious elite.

As St. Paul wrote:

“Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.”

But why is it that misfit toys seem to grasp the depths of the Jesus message more naturally than the religious elites? I contend that while the highly religious tend to latch onto the “eternal salvation” concept of the message of Jesus, it is the misfits who realize the “good news” gets even better than that.

Misfit Toys

Religious elites? They’re typically “all set” in the here-and-now, reducing Jesus to a figure who will one day save us from hell. But misfits? Misfits are driven by a deeper need: they don’t just need a Jesus who can save them later… misfits want a Jesus who can save them right now. Misfits long, not for the status quo, but for a richer and fuller experience today– they are dissatisfied in a very healthy way, and crave the “abundant life” Jesus promised in John 10:10. Others? Well, many of them don’t realize they’re actually missing the party.

Unfortunately in the West, the concept of the Kingdom of God isn’t taught very much- or very well. Instead, Christianity has often been reduced to an individualistic transaction which will benefit someone after they die- thinking that “eternal life” is a term referring only to an event in the future, when in reality it is always used in the present tense. We are able to enter into, and experience eternal life right here and right now. We are able to bless the world with a little more heaven, or curse it with a little more hell, right here and right now.

Misfit toys get this- we want not only a Jesus who can help us later; we want a Jesus who can help us right now. We want to experience the Kingdom of God right here, and right now… touches of heaven, right here and right now… and this unquenchable thirst drives us to discover that Jesus offers exactly that.

3. Misfit toys have less to lose when joining the Kingdom.

The way of Jesus isn’t popular, and the Kingdom of God he inaugurated is so radically different than the accepted ways of this world, that actually living like Jesus and embracing the ways of the Kingdom of God, will include an element of loss.

The way of Jesus and the ways of the Kingdom of God, aren’t popular to the world because they are completely upside down to everything that culture teaches us. Instead of a Kingdom that favors the rich and powerful, this is a Kingdom that invites in the poor, blind, crippled and lame– a Kingdom which doesn’t say the greatest is the most powerful, or the most served, but rather claims the greatest to be the one who is most busy doing the serving. The last, is the greatest. The least, is the greatest.

Living by these principles, isn’t a ticket to popularity. It might even make you unpopular within your own particular Christian tribe- because just as the world doesn’t look very much like Jesus, the Church doesn’t always look like him either.

If you try to live your life in a way that looks like Jesus, you WILL be a misfit toy.

Speaking up for the poor? Not always popular.

Speaking up for the rights of the marginalized? Not always popular.

Speaking up for immigrants? Not always popular.

Radical nonviolent love of enemies? Not always popular.

Calling the Church to repent of corporate sins? Not just unpopular–  this literally and figuratively could be the kiss of death.

The more I think of it, the more I realize that Jesus was the first Misfit Toy in the Kingdom of God, because he looked totally different than anyone who ever lived. And, if you decide to follow him by living a life that looks like him, you’ll surely be a misfit toy as well.

Being a Misfit Toy in the Kingdom of God won’t earn you a lot of popularity, anywhere.

Like Jesus, it might even get you killed.

But I promise, being a Misfit Toy in the Kingdom of God is the place to be. It’s where you’ll find peace; it’s where you’ll find an abundant life that is different from anything you could experience anywhere else.

In time you might even discover that you’re content to forever be, a jack-in-the-box named Charlie.

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Photo(s)/Resource(s): Benjamin L. Corey Patheos.com

 

God Is Not a Box, But a Body

##I find myself in spiritual discussions where my Christian faith is choked by a narrow box of Calvinist Augustinian thought, when billions of intelligent people before me have said smarter things than my small-minded kid’s drawing of God.  No single system of theology has the monopoly on Jesus, because Jesus is a person and not an idea that I can squeeze into my safe sorry studied-up checklist.

I find those mocking other camps in Christianity, divided by tiny flagpoles no higher than the two-foot ivory tower they’ve locked themselves into from the inside.  There is a snobby doctrinal vocabulary, an immature sort of bullying that implies no one else understands but “me,” certainly not “them,” because “we” got the truth in my abstract systematic outline of God and “they” don’t.  I seem to remember Jesus jumped out of Heaven for “them” too, and crossed an infinite ocean of sin to die on a cross for others who mocked him.

When we see the Cross, we can mistakenly see a limited obtainable knowledge, like a trophy on a shelf that is static unto itself and gets you into Heaven based on sermon points one through seven.  But did God become man to become a mental agreement?  For factual foreplay? To be engulfed by categorical dogma as a weaponized ideology against the stranger?  You call this spiritual warfare and I call it the hatred of self-justification.

I behold faith as a living, moving, pulsing, breathing dance — an uncontainable hardly explainable dynamic in its endless contours like waves of grace washing the sands of our rigid rebellion.  God is throwing haymakers at our stubbornness, an uppercut at the self-justifying fortress of our inwardly curved souls.  You can read Scripture, or you can breathe it.  One dies at your fingertips; the other thrives in your lungs and your language, the way you extend your hands into the dirt.

You will breathe differently than I do.  You prefer Starbucks; I prefer silence.  You like long walks on the beach; I like journaling. You enjoy the crowd and company; I like staying home watching movies.  You sing louder than the band; I soak in lyrics like an angry sponge.  You need an intellectual sermon; so do I, but with passion.  You want the mega church; I want to know whose shoulder is touching mine.

So we are still unified by Jesus.  He makes room for tough guys like you and sarcastic guys like me.  So we are still His body, loved by a love that I am not worthy to fully comprehend, but enough to know I am to love you, dear stranger, with all my bleeding heart and soul.

Photo(s) / Resource(s): JS Park

Do you remember doing Science Fair projects in school? You know, the ones where you did an experiment in order to answer a question, solve a problem, or explore a “what if?”

I’m certainly glad I’m not in 7th grade anymore, and don’t have to whip out my tri-panel display board and fret over whether the Judges are going to like my project. But, I do have an experiment, while hypothetical, that I’d love to see tested:

What would happen to the Church – the Body of Christ, if it were forced to exist without:

  • Officially designated church buildings or offices
  • Paid, full-time vocational ministers
  • Institutional or otherwise officially organized groups or factions
  • Tithes, Budgets or Ministry Plans

As I stated, I realize this experiment is an anecdotal exercise. Truly, it would take an extreme set of circumstances (or… a magnificent move of God) to arrange a new playing field such as this.

But what if?

What would you do if you woke up one morning, and suddenly, as if in an alternate reality, you learned that following your Lord, practicing and growing in your faith – being a Christian – had to be done differently…

What if…

what if there were no churches?

What if there were no “churches” to “go to?” What if there were no buildings where Christians gathered once or twice per week? What if there were no “Ministers?” No “Pastors?” No “Preachers?” No “Leaders?” What if there were no denominations? No groups of like-minded people who practice the same theological or doctrinal expression and traditions? What if there were no institutions to which you would tithe or give? There were no tax deductions? No budgets directing the allocation of funds or mission statements or plans dictating ministry form?

You would have prayer, the Bible, and people – but none of the above.

What would you do? How would you move forward? What would happen to the Church?

What would happen to the world?

Hypothesis: Revival

I am giddy as I fantasize about this query.

Can you imagine? The Body of Christ being released into the wilderness – amongst the darkness and danger and wolves of the world – with no “church” building to retreat to on Sunday, no “Pastor” to listen to week after week, no tribe to look for answers in tradition and no tax motivation or direction on where to give money?

To many, this sounds like chaos.

To me, this sounds like Heaven on earth. This sounds like the Ekklesia. This sounds like the Body under the Head. This sounds like the Bride in radiant Oneness with Her Groom. This sounds like the Family of God. This sounds like a dwelling place for the Lord.

This sounds like Jesus.

It was He in fact who said He was sending us out like sheep amongst the wolves. He said just as He is Light, so too are we, shining in the darkness. He said that the world was dangerous, but that He had already overcome it, and that we were the real dangerous ones in Him.

He also said He was the Head of His Body, the Church. He would lead; we would be equal, united and mutually beneficial members to each other, and the Body as a whole.

He said that as sheep, we listen to His voice and hear Him, as He leads us, and we follow.

He said there was no room for division or faction – only Him.

He said nothing about giving a certain percentage. He asked for everything. He did not direct ministry. Ministry is His Life – and It is to be taken everywhere, all the time, as He directs.

These were the simple, but profound instructions a small group of followers received from their Lord. They didn’t have buildings they erected and gathered in. They didn’t place titles on certain people or create offices around them. They knew nothing of denominations. They were not given percentage of giving or mission plan guidelines.

Instead, they gathered with each other, two or more at a time, at varying points in the day, every day, in as many varying forms and expressions as possible.

When they gathered, Christ, by the Holy Spirit, “lead” the meeting. He set the agenda. He was the agenda. He was expressed and His Life was given, and out of that expression and Life came mission direction and action – always in the form of humility, service and Love. Money and possessions and resources were given freely, generously, spontaneously and continuously – with no thought to percentage or personal benefit. Ministry was organic, dynamic, and viral.

Their simple, but powerfully obedient response to their Lord’s commission, changed the world.

The early Christians did not have anything that we do not have today. In fact, they had so much less. But the advancement of the Kingdom and the Life of Jesus was so much more explosive in their time.

This begs the question:

How did the early church do so much with so little? And… How are we doing so little with so much more?

And these are indeed good questions. But they are not the best question, which is:

What do we have now, that they didn’t have, that may be hindering the Kingdom?

While the answers to that question cannot be fully treated in one article, might I submit that in part, they include:

  • The modern day church building as the form and function of what we believe to be “church;” and if “gone to,” the primary function and practice of Christians.
  • The submission to, and sometimes idolatry of those in the position of “Pastor” or others in “Leadership,” to the point where, under the clergy/laity caste, the Priesthood of all Believers, and the identification of and free functioning in Spiritual gifts is retarded.
  • The division of the Body of Christ into many thousands of dis-unified parts, many of which give no more than lip service to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Head.
  • The oftentimes abused teaching of tithing, and the door that it closes to creative opportunities to be generous in giving and serving and loving outside of a corporate bank account and budget.

God is not hindering His work in our age. He has not designed that this time be marked with less power and wonder and expansion of His Kingdom.

No, man has done that.

Maybe, just maybe, this little experiment should not be anecdotal or hypothetical at all.

Maybe, we’ve always had the prescribed steps, ingredients and answers to this all along?

We have Him. He is all we need.

Maybe He is calling His children to get ourselves – our stuff and our ideas, out of the way…

…and follow.

 

Photo(s)/Resource(s): Brandon Chase