I was praying just a few weeks ago about how entrenched I was becoming in the political arena, and in fact, that it had been sometime since I had spoken in a church outside typical deacon duties at WS1st. I even mentioned to God that it seemed that I had little sense of Word still treasured in my heart. I was questioning my calling.
Just as God often does, he orchestrated a call from a friend, whom frankly I had not seen for some time. Out of the blue he called and asked if I would have lunch, then at that lunch asked if I might be interested in speaking early in the New Year. I am always amazed at the process the Lord uses in constructing a message within me. That process may be more rewarding for me, than the message is for the hearers! Again, I am grateful.
I now have three points of focus to which I will speak this evening:
*The Righteousness of Christ
*Relationship with God
#1 Righteousness: Everything we do is by His Grace, and platformed only upon His righteousness; whatever I do that is constructive for the Kingdom has more to do with Him than my own skill set; and often in spite of my own sinfulness. In fact he even selects foolish people (I qualify) to confound the wise! There is purpose in Him using me.
Of late, I have been in a study of Judah, one of the sons of Israel; the study a part of a book I am writing.
If you study the lineage of Christ, you easily make the connection with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Their story is a beautiful allegory of human development from risk taking to personal transformation. Ultimately Joseph is born, the dream child and certainly a Christ-type.
But despite Joseph’s lifestyle, you will not hear God aligning himself with Joseph; He prefers to be called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then, when Jacob was prophesying over, or blessing his sons, it was Judah, not Joseph to whom he attached the Messianic scepter, the ruler’s staff.
Ironically, Judah’s firstborn died prematurely with no offspring; his daughter in law Tamar, being denied the cultural obligation of her near-kinsman to aid in bearing children, was then left alone in life. The plot thickens as she later dresses as a prostitute and pursues Judah for that right. In a moment of his own grief after the loss of his wife and all his sons, he unknowingly stumbles upon a prostitute, “lies with her,” producing twins. Jacob’s prophecy is redeemed and the Christ, who was God, aligns himself not with the winsome and righteous Joseph, but with the lesser Judah, one who had violated the laws of this God of Jacob.
The Lion of Judah is on our side, regardless of our failures. He is not just the God of perfection and promise but chooses to also identify with those of us who need a redeemer. He does not even require righteousness of us, he brings it.
I need not fear as a leader, sharing my ineptness, for I am broken at best, otherwise there would have been no need for a Lamb. Yet, not only did this Lamb become the sacrifice for my sins, this Lion by way of the cross forever drove a stake in the ground regarding righteousness…it is a gift from God.
#2 Relationship with God: In my recent reading of I Samuel 20: 41-42 I was again struck by the open relationship between David and Jonathon. In these verses a secondary story seems to backdrop the challenges of Israel, revealing the true heart of these two men of God, though their lives were marred by the political pressures of Saul and the trauma of a nation constantly at war. David had a heart after God as a young man and a deep brotherly love for his companion Jonathon, one that depicts the true nature of an undistracted relationship with Christ. Even David’s warring was out of a passion for the people of God, unlike Saul, who was seduced by the politics of people.
Back to David’s heart and the relationship of intimacy between Jonathon and David, these verses are a part of a scarlet cord of righteousness and relationship that connect the true attributes and desires of God, He desires relationship with you more than you desire relationship with him. We have lost that somewhat in the evangelical church, in our overly religious and legalistic attempts to war and win for the Kingdom, if not for building our own empires! His Kingdom is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Religion has tainted the message of Christ, focusing more on life’s battle than our personal intimacy with Him. Post war Baby-boomers were told too many stories about Goliath and the battles with the Philistines than the intimacy of David and Jonathon; and now, even marring that message with our own sexual and gender challenges.
We have created a system that demands service and giving, more often than enabling an understanding of righteousness and relationship, which takes me to my third and final objective, our Roles.
In the spill over of our industrial age transition, the work of the Lord has been given more emphasis than the Lord of the Work.
Trust me; you as an individual are more important than your service to any one church. You are the Church; our sanctuaries are simply gathering places. In fact, as a tool for reaching the unredeemed masses, it may be the least effective tool. Churches are only effective when they enable people to deliver righteous returns within real marketplace scenarios…community leadership that glorifies God; that is worship too!
If all we are doing is bringing people together to arouse some spirit like emotion, in order to further the strategies of some lone organization, pay its bills and bless the leader, what a waste of kingdom resources. That is the reality in many churches.
Our role is to demonstrate Christ through our lives each day in the marketplace, not simply to earn a living, and then return on Sundays with our tithe.
Though used numerous times in Old Testament Hebrew language, the Greek word for congregation, is used only once in the New Testament. It comes from two words, one from which we derive our word agonize, the other “together”.
We should not be surprised when there is conflict in our churches, for they are a crucible of sorts for the development of each individual, more than a gathering place for the “unsaved.”
We have been raised to believe conflict is bad and only occurs in such radical places as the senate floor. Struggle is necessary for life, in fact for birth! Watch a chick peck and push its way out of the shell. If you dare pick up the egg and begin to peel it off with compassion, the chick will most probably die! Our churches should cause us to struggle, to morph, to become so that His Kingdom may! If all we do is attend on weekends, what merit is that facility.
We have now framed the gospel in such a way that people need a leader to follow and a place to gather. Your role is more than with just any singular church, but in personal leadership within the world at large. We are a royal priesthood and rightful leaders of His kingdom on earth. We are called out of darkness to bring light, thus we are all leaders in our own way.
The church with its many needs of time talent and resources, may actually hinder the development of our full leadership, if it holds us away from a struggling world that gropes for leadership.
You have the righteousness of Christ; the Father is in love with you and desires relationship with you beyond your comprehension. You carry the capacity to bring His Kingdom to this Earth, and to deliver the dream that is captive inside each individual; a dream sufficient to redeem creation. And yes you personally have a specific role, a calling and therefore a voice in this world, outside the church; at a time, when our nation suffers daily from a dearth of integrity and leadership, from Congress to Main Street.
Are you a leader? Does your community know it?