Monday, May 2, 2011

God Called. He Wants His Church Back

For far too long men have wrestled with God for control over His people.

Jesus modelled a servant leadership style for His disciples, and today our leaders emphasize a CEO brand of leadership patterned after the world of big business.

The Apostle Paul told us that we were the Temple of the Holy Spirit, yet Ministers today insist on collecting millions of dollars from their flock to build a temple where people can worship.

The Apostle Peter told us that we are the living stones God is building up to become His Church, and instead we are convinced that building the Church involves putting butts in the seats on Sunday morning.

Jesus commanded us to make disciples, those who would follow His teachings and apply them to their everyday life. Instead we have become experts at entertaining the Saints each week and occasionally converting a few to our denomination.

The other day I read a familiar verse of Scripture and it hit me in a new way. Here's what I read:

"As you come to him, the living also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." - 1 Peter 2:4-5

What struck me about this verse was the simplicity of the promise here. As we come to Jesus, who is the Living Stone, we are also built into a spiritual house (The Church). Coming to Jesus doesn't involve coming to a place, it simply means coming to Him. It means seeking His Face and falling at His feet. As we come to Jesus, we will become like Jesus and He will build us up into a people who will reflect His character to the World.

A few weeks ago I visited a protestant church where there was actually a Holy of Holies at the front of the church where only the Priest and the ordained ministers were allowed to enter. It made me sad to think that Jesus had come and suffered so much, even torn the veil of the Jewish Temple in two, only to have His people create a new version of the same thing when they built the Church and named it after Him.

Why do we insist on returning to a place where professional clergy interact with God on our behalf? The Children of Israel begged Moses to speak to God for them because they were not comfortable hearing His voice or being in His presence. The Pharisees and other Jewish Leaders of Jesus' day created rules and regulations and barriers to the Temple so that very few people had access to God.

Have we built a Church today where our structures and rules have kept God's people from Him? Have we knowingly participated in a system of religion where only a select few have access to God on our behalf? Are we more comfortable being in the background while a paid clergy seek God for us?

God calls us a "royal priesthood." He has put His Holy Spirit within each individual believer and follower of Jesus. He has called every single one of us to be His Ambassadors to a fallen and broken world.

I believe that God is in the process of tearing down the man-made barriers we have built in order to get His Church, His Bride, back.

God's plan has always been to have a living, breathing, active, passionate people on this Earth who will live out His Word and demonstrate His incredible love to those in darkness. He is a jealous God, according to His Word and "the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely" (James 4:5). God will not share us with a system built to keep Him out or us away from Him.

God is calling all of us to step into the destiny He has bought for us with the blood of His Son. We are a royal priesthood. Each of us has the Spirit of the Living God within us if we have surrendered our hearts and lives to Jesus. We are empowered to preach. We are deputized to serve. We are qualified to love. We are energized with His power to accomplish all that He has called us to do.

Maybe that's why we prefer the safety of the pew? We are afraid to believe that this amazing promise of God could really be true. It's so much easier to send Moses to speak for us, or to build a Holy of Holies where only special clergy go and minister, or to pay a professional to go and preach and serve and love for us.

Like it or not, God wants His Church to step into the freedom and destiny He has called Her to. God will have His way. We cannot deny Him. Even if we deny it, we are still priests and kings who have been called upon to serve, and love, as Jesus did.

Will you believe God? Will you accept your place among the living stones who are being built into the temple of God?

Step forward. Accept your ordination into the service of the King.

You and I have a job to do.


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