English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.
This is part of the section of scripture we looked at in Chapel this morning. This was Jesus, in his home town doing what he usually did. And then the local builder claimed he was God!
What struck me was Jesus challenged them in the heart of what was normal; in his boyhood community.
God calls us to a special unity under him – a local community in Christ. Not a community of human traditions but a community where each part, each like a stone in the building , is a centre of unity in God- part of his purpose and will. God in Jesus is the foundation and the corner stone – the root and the apex.
But we are forever deflecting from this, building human kingdoms and systems not living temples. Why?
There will be a setting. There will be a gathering of people. There will be various functions or ministries cementing people together. Personalities and hierarchies sadly supplant God in these kingdoms. There is nothing usually inherently wrong but kingdoms of this world constantly arise in the heart of what we may call the church.
In CCBS this morning I went on to hear Gareth McCormick preaching in part precisely on this through Nehemiah 13. These kingdoms are easy to recognise and work away at the integrity of the Temple which in our context is us- the people of God gathered in Christ.
Worldly religion in Christianity is a many headed beast. However the beauty of the true church is there is only one head – Christ. Each part works under his grace. Christ is the one source of life. The true church has one head.
This is the space for self examination. God’s church exists where there are no weekly organised meetings, no governing bodies, no outward props – it exists in the twos or threes gathered together. It points to the twos or threes – in simple meals, walks, accountability, teaching and prayer. Maybe that is why the church is able to thrive in austerity and persecution because the life is in relationships not organisations.
The test is whether what is inevitably built survives when everything of potential pride is removed – when a leader leaves, a building is removed or families depart. Where the spirit of Christ is, where his message runs deep, there is freedom and forgiveness – life and growth.
I am thinking of a new movement called the Messed up Church where messed up people who have been scarred by the many headed beast can get their wounds healed. Where they can find their unity in Christ in twos and threes.
To form it, the established church will have to change its name to the Get out of the Doors Church where the members become the seed of community actually in their communities, becoming relevant by being there where people are, not just organising themselves, exhausting themselves serving a many headed beast. We are to be scattered liberally just in case there is good soil and there are ears to hear and eyes to see. We are to be like yeast in bread, tiny but bringing life to the whole loaf.
The local church there by is a resource, a sending community, not a centre of human growth but a constantly pulsing, sacrificial centre of kingdom growth.