A Summary of This Week’s Keynote Message for Prayer, Reflection & Response.                          

Signpost: See & Engage the Harvest   

Theme: ‘Jesus: Did He exercise a ministry OR build His church? Part 1 of 3

Reference Scriptures – Ephesians 1: 7-10; Matthew 16; Ezra; Nehemiah; Haggai 1:4-8; Zechariah; Mark 4.  

Speaker: Graeme Hush (based on work done in partnership with Brian Medway since 2008)  

The Spring 2018 Campaign                                         

Introducing a 3 Part Series to give ‘Kingdom of God’ foundations for the ‘Communities of HOPE’ Strategy and ways we can all play our part  

Jesus: Did He exercise a ministry OR build His church?

  1. The idea of a Community of HOPE (church) in a sphere
  2. What we can learn from New Testament Pictures of the Church
  3. There’s nothing wrong with a Ministry; It’s just not Church
  1. The idea of a Community of HOPE (church) in a sphere
    1. It starts with the ‘actual’ Gospel (Eph. 1 7-10)

From the beginning the Gospel’s scope was designed to extend from personal renewal to cultural reformation—to the renewal of the world.

It is, in fact, the Gospel of God’s government for the world, the ‘kosmos’ (Gk), which in the NT, not only signifies “the inhabited planet known as Earth as the theatre where history happens” but also “the universe as the sum of ALL created things”. …

The scope of the Gospel or the ‘completion of God’s Primary Purpose’ therefore, covers not only the harvest of the inhabitants of the world but also the re-ordering of all created things. That is, restoring to ‘God’s original purpose’ by aligning EVERY sphere of life with the kingdom of heaven; and this realized in time-space history (Eph 1:10).

As such, it is the Gospel for the family, for education, for justice, for economics, for international relations, and so on and so forth. It is, in fact, the divine manifesto for the re-ordering and beautification of the universe; for paradise restored.

  1. It starts with the ‘actual’ Gospel (Eph. 1 7-10)
  2. People won’t see Jesus unless they see an expression of the church … WHY?

The simple answer is found in 3 major points outlined by Jesus himself – our SOLE authority and reference point for what we are trying to DO. (Matthew 16)

  1. Jesus said it was a church that had the authority to destroy the “gates of hell”.
  2. It was a church to which Jesus said he would give the “keys of the kingdom”.
  3. It was a church ONLY that could represent the strength of collective and radical discipleship – (i.e. deny self – not just try to put others first; take up Your cross – not just think that everything is supposed to be rosy; follow Jesus – not just be inspired      by Him from a safe distance.

Comment: Discipleship is by nature radical, it is counter  cultural BUT adding the word ‘radical’ as a descriptor might in fact re-align us to this KINGDOM TRUTH.

NB: The following is a hard truth – simply because it addresses an issue without regard for the intention of people’s hearts and desires. However, we need to de-personalize some truths so we can see past the fog they have created. Please accept the following as a corrective teaching that starts with my own propensity from time to time to lean on my defaults rather than on God’s truth IN Christ.

We have had Christians living and working in all kinds of community spheres without any measurable advance of the kingdom of God in the sphere.

We have had chaplains in the military, in hospitals and schools but no real expectation of seeing anything except an individual or two come to Christ.

There is no expectation that such a ministry will really challenge the power associated with the kingdom of the world towards filling the space with the presence and rule of Jesus Christ.

There is a powerful illustration of this from the experience of the re-settlement of Judea by the returning Babylonian exiles (The following summary from the books of Ezra, Haggai, Zechariah and Nehemiah which ALL tell this story).

In the early chapters of Ezra, we read that the Israelites came back with a great sense of anticipation.  God had done an amazing thing.

The fact that only an estimated 5% returned is a worry, but the remnant

(NB: Remnant has figured large in the things we’ve been receiving in our Corporate Prayer time each week. We believe ‘remnant’ is an important truth in what God has called us to)

… returned to Jerusalem to find only a hill covered with piles of burnt stones, courtesy of Nebuchadnezzar’s response to the rebellious unyielding of the last kings of Judah.

The remnant cleared the decks and started to lay the foundation for the temple.

When the foundation was laid they had a celebration.

The significant point of this story & a strong foundation for our CALLING happens next. 

The people who lived around Judah were happy to have Jews living in Jerusalem and the immediate area right up until they started building the temple.

The surrounding (pre-Samaritan) people were at issue from the start, but when the people of Judah refused to compromise the covenant, the surrounding people resisted to the point of going to the king of Persia and demanding that the rebuilding of the temple be stopped.  Why?

Well, the answer may lie in the fact that what they were building was going to enable the ‘presence of the God of heaven and earth to dwell in their midst’.

The principle relating to the idea of a “church” being planted in a community sphere is the same issue in a different time and place.

If it is true that Jesus said the “church” was the instrument he was endorsing (Matthew 16) to crash the gates of hell and establish the kingdom of God and if the church was the environment where disciples were selflessly God centred, willingly cross bearing followers of Jesus ….. then, is it no wonder that it is easier to establish a “ministry” in some sphere of our involvement or influence than it is a “church.”

The Haggai reference to this matter is just as compelling.

Those who had returned with a heart of faith and began at once to rebuild the temple only got time to lay the foundations before they experienced aggressive opposition from the neighbouring peoples, even to the point of misrepresenting their intentions to the new king of Persia in order to receive his support.

So, they put their effort into building their own houses and creating a prosperous livelihood.  Every day they could walk past the temple foundations and whenever someone suggested completing the work of building God’s house, others would remind them of what happened the last time they tried.

The interesting thing is that there didn’t seem to be any opposition to them building bigger and better homes for themselves.

What they were doing was building a lifestyle without the presiding presence of God.

The result was a familiar one:  personal and social dysfunction, economic irresponsibility and then some natural disasters:  poor crop yields and years without adequate rainfall.

Our focus in this ‘Communities of HOPE’ campaign is what is actually happening in our community spheres.

Just assume that God wants to do work in those spheres (I think this is non-debatable – what do you think?).

Then you and I need to realize that he has people (a remnant) who know Him and know his purpose.

We are all too aware of how ‘well received’ (picture my tongue firmly placed in my cheek)  the idea of “church” is in our culture as a whole.  If you went to your boss at work and said you wanted to fund holidays on the Gold Coast for all the staff you and your suggestion would become a legend overnight.

If you went and said you were going to establish a church in the sphere I am safe in assuming that the idea would be met with anything from straight out vehement opposition at one end of the reaction spectrum, to sending you for a psychological examination at the other.

(At this point in the message I shared some experience from my experiments in the ACT with ‘Communities of HOPE’ planting for Jesus to BUILD – check out various ‘Bed Post’ Daily Blogs for descriptions and stories like this.)

If you become wealthy, the world wouldn’t worry and if you showed signs of social dysfunction because they would simply think you were normal.  If there were economic pressures they would look for rational solutions.

But God might want to say, “Is this a time for you to live comfortably in this sphere when there is no ‘church’ – no body that represents a place for me to dwell (i.e. rule in people’s hearts?)

This idea is almost as strange to people who have only considered church in the mode to which we have become accustomed:  i.e. a group of people representing a theological emphasis, an ecclesiastical tradition or structure, the leadership quality of an individual, an ethnicity or the many lesser reasons related to human pride, rebellion, independence etc.

The list is as endless as it is a flagrant betrayal of the nature of the God we serve.                                       In the Bible we only know of churches that represent locations or spheres.

So we have problems in both the current church culture as well as the community.

The enemy of God has done a good job.

If we speak about establishing a church … in a street, or in a workplace both the people in the sphere and the people in the current limited edition church ask “why?” and offer objections.

They are like the people surrounding the Judeans we have already talked about who will not notice if another paneled house is built or another crop planted.  Who won’t mind if we sing our songs and read from our texts.  Who will only object when we start to build something according to the design given by God for a dwelling place on the earth and if you think these conversation or questions / arguments don’t happen think again!

I had one THIS very week – a close friend who thinks that I have lost the plot and have strayed into – who knows what. He had absolutely nothing to say when I challenged his idea of ‘church’ by asking, “Why do we continue to perpetuate something that Jesus never did or asked us to do? Why do we take on everyone else’s ideas or franchises that establish a form of western ‘cultural’ church when they are temporal, short lived, can’t be sustained or reproduced – simply because they rely on resources that aren’t from heaven? If a can opener no longer opens cans, how can it still be a can opener without re-building it to do the actual job it was made for OR simply to build a new one?

As discussed earlier, people from church life and non-church life alike have their particular issues with what using the word ‘church’ conjures up.

God has revealed to us a language we can use. When asking the Father as Jesus did in Mark 4; “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable shall we use to describe it (to the spheres we have been given responsibility for)? The Father has answered us by giving us the idea of a ‘community of HOPE – a community that represents Heaven On Planet Earth. Instead of having to defend and excuse issues the word ‘church’ raises, we can describe for people what it’s supposed to look like and be – and even though it might be hard to live up to (and I have no idea why we don’t have that challenge with regard to the idea of ‘church’ anyway) we can be honest with our spheres and help people understand that we are all on a journey towards something that we don’t always live up to. BUT, we are in this together and we should all be allowed access so we can see Jesus and hear from the Father, and make a response – either for Jesus or not.

Could it be possible that the reason for our powerlessness in all of the places where we live and work may be because we have not built a house for the Lord to dwell in according to the pattern he has established.  In our case we are left in no doubt that there is only one.    It is the CHURCH that Jesus builds so let’s reclaim the word by planting ‘Communities of HOPE’ that help people re-align and re-engage with the church – the body of Christ in community.

Sunday 14th October 2018  (Luke 9-10)

Good Evening Beloved!

Well … that was a couple of weeks … phew! So good to have almost finished moving and feeling settled and more ‘adjacent’ to what God would have us do in this season He has opened up for us. Karen is settling well into her new work environment and our Puss is starting to feel at home now in hers.

Just by way of sit rep, it was humbling for me to attend my God daughter Hayley’s BOOK launch event last night. I am so proud of her as I know her parents and family and friends are. What a terrific achievement and if you are interested to know more, you can find out at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/hayleydotbarratbigponddotcom  and perhaps purchase a copy of ‘Fate’s Call’ for yourself.

I wanted to start this Bed Post with an apology. I’ve had some varied responses to the summary of last Sunday’s preached message (7th) and even though I was to some degree expecting most of it, I recognise that writing summaries of preached words which are delivered in a face to face context, can have their challenges because it is difficult to summarize an emotion or a facial expression or body language.

That all aside, I want to make clear that the message about building a church and not a ministry is in NO way a poor reflection on people’s calls to start ministries to all sorts of target missional scenarios. Of course a ministry can be an outreach arm of a church (a body of Christ) and as such building that body and the outworking of what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 16.

What I was sharing was a genuine prophetic word from heaven that Brian Medway and I shared and were stewards of for a season and now I believe that mantle has come to me. I am simply urging us as followers of Jesus, not to just start ministries because we CAN, but rather seek to establish the church that Jesus builds in the spheres of our life, work and play so that when we move on or pass on or are no longer interested, the church is the thing that remains and can sustain and reproduce something that keeps crashing down the gates of hell and representing and demonstrating heaven on earth.

This is why Jesus was sent by His Father to earth. To establish the church which would continue to carry His presence until the work on earth is done.

In Luke 9 verses 51-56, Jesus starts intentionally re-orientating towards Jerusalem to ensure He is where He needs to be to ensure he does ‘all’ His Father asked Him to do. He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan Village which was on the way and verse 53 is illuminating. ‘but the people there did not welcome Him because He was heading for Jerusalem’.

You see, people loved Jesus and they loved what He did BUT it didn’t stop them from assuming, even suggesting that He do things (without deviating too far from the plan), that would focus on them OR things they wanted to see Him do RATHER THAN get behind, support and encourage Jesus to do ALL He needed to do to get the job He was sent to do – done. We are all, including me, going to be challenged at some point with something that Jesus is clearly saying and doing that we just might rather he didn’t or hope He might change if our protest is strong enough.

In this passage (one example of many), Jesus doesn’t get distracted from the task, nor by the wants and demands of either the people that were starting to connect or even the disciple’s ideas on how to deal with recalcitrant Samaritan’s as per verse 54. He just kept moving toward the goal whatever was going on around Him – and so shall we.

Anyway, thanks for all the feedback and I am praying that God will increase and energize some of the ideas I’ve heard from a few of you. I will keep sharing stories and sit reps this week so I hope you’ll tune in.

Love Graeme

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