We are the church. We are the body of Christ. As the body, it is about life coming off of us for the testimony of Christ in the world. We have to see ourselves as us, not just in the setting of Sunday service, but wherever we are in life. We don’t do anything in life as independent individuals. We do everything for the purpose of the gate of heaven, the purpose of the church.
Isaiah 2:3 Many people shall come and say,“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
The mountain of the Lord is the house of God. It is the place of His habitation. This is the place of God’s presence, purpose and rule. This is Zion. It is the church. The Spirit is calling all people to the mountain of the Lord. He is calling us and it is for the hope of the calling of Christ, the riches of His inheritance in us, and the working His power through us to accomplish His purposes in all things. It is not our calling, our inheritance, or our power. It is us for His glory, but it is always us in connection with others. The church can be a challenging place, because the greatness of God is revealed in and through the church.
Many people have chosen to not be a part of the church because they believe it is a terrible place. They come to this conclusion because they experience challenges, conflicts, and legalistic conclusions in church settings. There are many challenges and misunderstandings in the church. People often separate from the church in order to become a smaller community. Smaller community should be a part of every community of Christ. My body is a complex and has many parts in its reality, but it is comprised of two or three cells coming together for life in each place of connection in my body. There is a truth in the need for small community, but there is something of the greatness of the purpose of God missed when we only seek connection at our table. In our Father’s house there are many rooms, but it is a house and not isolated rooms. Without the connection of intimacy in the rooms it is just an external structure, but when each room becomes a life-giving expression of Christ it becomes the fulness of the house of God.
In the mountain of the Lord, God teaches us His ways, therefore, our ways will be challenged in the church so we can decide to choose His ways over our own. We are more likely to be offended in the church than in the world, because it is there that God teaches us His ways. I am not giving excuses for wrong attitudes or actions in the church, I am simply saying that each of us must own our role in and as the church and exhibit God’s way towards others. His way is to be merciful, forgiving, self-controlled, at peace, and all that manifests the fruit of the Spirit. Those things will be challenged. Ways have to do with our beliefs. Every relationship that ends is because someone believed they were right. The moment we say someone is wrong we are also choosing to say we are right. Our ways are going to be challenged in the mountain of the Lord.
Our actions are going to be challenged in the church. Our paths are going to collide with the paths of God. Are we going to walk in the path of the Lord or in our own paths? Our paths include our actions in life. We can expect that the church can be a place that will challenge our actions, because it is in the church that we learn to walk in the paths of the Lord.
A third thing that is challenged in the church has to do with what comes out from us. Out of Zion goes for the law. What is the law? This is not the law according to the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong. It is the law of love. Love will be challenged, developed and drawn out of us in the mountain of the Lord. It is one thing to act as though we love someone, but it is another thing to imagine they love us. My wife and I have been married for over 40 years. We believe we love each other so we have acted this out. We make actions of love toward one another. That has been challenged over time and at times we have each had to imagine we love each other. We have had to be creative in our thinking that goes beyond than what we can see. Love has had to become more real than natural sight at times. This third level, the law going forth form Zion, is love going beyond what is actually visible.
Paul said that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. Why didn’t he just say we battle against spiritual forces? Why did he say we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood before he mentions spiritual powers? He said this because it always comes in a flesh and blood package. It always manifests through people, but people are not the real issue. He describes that we wrestle against principalities, powers, rulers, and hosts of wickedness in high or heavenly places. These four things can also be described as influencing forces, imaginations or creative powers, actions of rule, and beliefs comprised of word and spirit that create a strong hold in our hearts. Beliefs produce actions, actions promote imaginations, and imaginations empower forceful influences to the world around us. The highest of these things is in the foundation. Whatever we believe determines how we act, how we act determines what we think about and what we think about determines how we influence the world around us. Before these things can be addressed in the world, they must be realized in the church.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson