Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Radical Church of Jesus

When Jesus announced his ministry and proclaimed his Gospel of the Kingom it was like setting off a bomb in the heart of the city. People got excited. The religious leaders of the day got nervous. The political leaders took notice.

Jesus entered a religious society that was permeated with Jewish tradition and influenced by Pagan practice.

Both Judaism and Paganism share three commonalities: The Temple, The Sacrifice and The Priesthood.

What is the Temple?
It's the Holy Place. It's where God's Spirit dwells. It's where those who are hungry to meet with God go to connect with Him.

What is the Sacrifice?
It's intended to atone for the sins of the individual and to provide access to God.

What is the Priest?
These are the ones who perform the sacrifice. They are the ones who are worthy to enter the "Holy of Holies" and approach God. They hear God's voice. They relate the message of God to those who are outside the Temple. They are concerned with the Spiritual health and education of the people of God.

When Jesus established the Church he did not build something with a physical temple or a daily animal sacrifice or a special group of elite clergy. The Church that Jesus built was out of the ordinary. It was radical. It was unlike anything that had ever come before it.

The Church Jesus built effectively destroyed all three conventions of Judaism and Paganism.

Take that in for a moment. Consider the implications of this fact. Jesus inspired and established the first system of religion without a physical temple, an animal sacrifice or an elitist priesthood. This was something brand new.

When Jesus came he told the woman at the well that the time was coming, and indeed had already come, when those who seek God would not worship Him in the Temple, or on the Holy Mountain, but in Spirit and in Truth.

Jesus told the Pharisee that if they destroyed the Temple he would build it again in three days. Of course, we know that he was speaking of the Temple of his body, but we also know that the actual Temple was destroyed in just a few short years following his crucifixion and it remains so to this very day.

On the cross, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the world. There is now no longer any need for a daily sacrifice to be made, which is why the Temple was, and is, unneccessary to the one who seeks intimacy with God.

On the cross Jesus became the High Priest (see Hebrews chapter 4 and 10) who once and for all made the sacrifice for us and lives forever to intercede for us.

As Jesus suffered on the cross, an earthquake rocked the city and the veil (all 300 pounds of it) was ripped in two, destroying the Temple and rendering it obsolete.

Why did Jesus do this? He did this in order to announce a new Kingdom. A Kingdom where you and I would become the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19, 2 Cor 6:16; Eph 2:19-22).

He did this so that you and I could become the new priesthood (1 Peter 2).

He did this so that you and I could become the daily sacrifice (Romans 12, Luke 9:23).

In this new order, in this new organic, vibrant and thriving organism called "The Church", Jesus gave birth to something the world had never seen before. He said it would require new wineskins and that the old wineskins or systems of thinking and living would not be able to contain it.

If we are God's new temple what does that mean?
It means we are now the Holy Place. Our souls are now the place where God's Spirit dwells. We carry around with us the immediate presence of God where those who are hungry to meet with Him can come and connect with Him.

If you and I are the new priesthood it means that we are the ones who perform the daily sacrifice. We are the ones who are worthy to enter the "Holy of Holies" and approach God. We can hear God's voice. We have the honor of conveying the message of God to those who are outside the Temple. We now play an active role in the spiritual health and education of God's people.

If we are the daily, living sacrifice it means each of us have special access to God. Because of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, our daily sacrifice bears witness to our desire to follow Jesus, surrender our lives to Him, and worship God with our entire being.

You and I are this same Church. We are the people of God. We are part of something more unique and fabulous than any of us could have ever imagined.

Who are you in Christ? You are a new creation. You are the Temple of God. You are the Priests of God. You are the daily, living sacrifice to God.

We are a people unlike any the world has ever seen or imagined before. We are the Church.

"Conversatio Morem!"


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