Today’s post is based upon a blog I wrote a few years ago, but I felt the subject is very relevant and needed. Whatever our temple is determines what our community will be. Whoever is in the center of the room will determine the culture of the room. Christ-like community may not create a community centered around Christ. Only Christ in the room can create a culture of Christ in the room. A community does not create a temple for God to live in but becoming a temple where God lives will create a community that expresses the one that lives in the temple.
As leaders in the body of Christ we must be New Covenant in our thinking and New Covenant in our leadership style. Church is not a structure. It is the testimony of the culture of the kingdom of heaven made manifest in human community. Many times people get offended with what they see in the structure of the church and think that the solution is to create a new structure for a New Covenant expression. I don’t believe we have a structure problem as much as we have a culture problem. Structure doesn’t create a culture, but a culture will mandate a changing structure. Surely there are changes needed in the structure of things in the church, but the answer is not to simply change the structure. It is to change the culture. When the culture of the kingdom of God enters into any structure, the structure will change. We must be willing to change the structure of things to match the work of God’s Spirit, but changing the structure alone will not create a kingdom culture. The New Covenant church is built upon a New Covenant culture.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah — not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘ Know the Lord, ’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
The New Covenant is not an external change, but rather an internal one. The internal change of the New Covenant in the heart of the believer empowers many changes to the external way of things. It is not about knowing what to do or knowing how to act. It is about being empowered to live, move, and have our beings as sons and daughters of God in the earth. As New Covenant leaders we must seek to activate, facilitate, and release this reality in the lives of those we lead. We cannot take people by the hand and lead them. We must create an atmosphere that invites all to know God and to listen to His voice. We are not responsible to teach people right from wrong. We are responsible is teaching them to recognize and obey God’s voice. The culture of the kingdom of God is one of hearing, responding, and becoming a testimony of all that God desires in the earth. This will create a community of unity through diversity. When we lead for a structure we command unity through conformity, but when we lead for a culture we inspire unity through diversity.
Psalms 133:1-3 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing — Life forevermore.
God doesn’t bless unity; He blesses Zion. Zion is the place of the manifest presence of heaven on earth. It is the place where the anointing oil touches the earth. It is the place where the dew of heaven touches that little hill of Zion. That is where God commands the blessing and that blessing is – Life forevermore! The result is a testimony of unity. Unity is not the starting point; it is the finished testimony. It comes when everyone finds heaven’s grace in the same place. If God simply blessed unity we could all agree to be religious, we could agree to lie, or we could all agree to hate and expect some form of blessing from God. God doesn’t bless our agreement. Our agreement comes from the place of His blessings. The place of His blessing is the place of His cultural invasion in our hearts. That cultural invasion is one of knowing God and becoming a testimony of Him in the earth. We must be a house of God’s presence before we can be a community of His testimony. We must be a community of His testimony before we can be a people of His purpose.
The community of God is dependent upon being the temple of God’s Holy Spirit. The temple is not dependent upon the community. The community is dependent upon the temple. The temple of the Holy Spirit will activate, facilitate, and release the community of Christ. Build a temple and you will build the city. Build the city and you may never build the temple. In the Old Testament King Cyrus made a decree to build the temple of God and that decree was in reality a decree to build the city of God (Ezra 1:2; Dan. 9:25). The city of God had to be built because the temple was built (including the law and proper offerings). The word sent to build the city was the physical manifestation of the temple. The temple was the word gone forth. Build a temple and there will be a city. It is just like our Christian walk. If Jesus is in our heart, if there is a temple, then the work of the city (Christian community life) can be completed. Once Jesus is in our hearts we are new creations, but it is yet to be further manifested in our lives. God spoke the word to call us, but it didn’t become ‘the word sent forth’ until we received Jesus into our hearts. We had to become a house for His Spirit to dwell in and we had to receive His Spirit to dwell in us to write His law upon our hearts and minds. We had to become proper ‘burnt offerings’ through the one offering Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1 – members of the body of Christ). Christian community doesn’t make us the testimony of Christ. Christ in us empowers us to become the testimony of a Christ-like community. As leaders we must lead for the culture of Christ before we can activate, facilitate, or release Christian community.
Food For Thought
Ted J. Hanson
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