We had been in the UK about a week, surrounded by accents other than American English, when suddenly out of the crowd we heard an American couple. Immediately we struck up a conversation like we were long lost friends who hadn't seen each other in years. There was an instant connection to back home.
That's how it should be when Christians get together: "WOW, someone from my own country!" with that instant connection. No matter what nation we are from, our real home country is the kingdom of heaven. We have dual citizenship; one of this earth, the other is our forever address.
"God...has delivered us from the authority of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."
"For our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await our Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ."
"We then as Ambassadors for Christ, as though the Father is asking you through us, be reconciled to God (Father)."
Colossians 1:12-13, Philippians 3:20, II Corinthians 5:20
An Ambassador lives in a country other than their own, representing their home country and its interests, as well as the interests of its citizens visiting or living in that foreign country.
The Greek word for 'citizen' or 'citizenship' is 'politeuomai' and means a law-abiding citizen. Specifically "to behave as a citizen; to avail oneself of, or recognize the laws of (the kingdom). Citizenship means to pledge one's life to the laws of life, to let your manner of life be worthy of your citizenship." (Thayer's commentary)
Do we behave like we are citizens of heaven? Our culture is different than the culture of the world around us. It is that awareness the Lord spoke to me about. Working deep in the hearts of millions, He is stirring by the Father's Spirit, a yearning to be part of the culture of God.
Christians should therefore live life as a process of recognizing we are in the world but not of it, meaning the kingdom of God and His culture which is in our spirit-man, flows to our mind so that we as a matter of life-long process learn to think and feel as God thinks and feels. While this is happening we are implementing these things in the natural so that our body and life are obedient to Life.
We need to celebrate Christ in us with other citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Leaving our differences at the door, we enter into fellowship with fellow-citizens, celebrating the kingdom of heaven as mutual citizens gathering while visiting a foreign land.
The gathering of ourselves
God invented the home and family when He planted a garden then created Adam and put him in it. Then Eve was created and together they met with God in their home. The Lord has never left the home. Whatever structures have come after it, He invented the home and family. He will fill to the fullest extent that any structure allows him, like a workplace, but the home and family is what He created.
Therefore the family and home and the relationships that flow from there are the highest expression of the kingdom of heaven on earth - best case scenario. In the NT we see family, friends, neighbors, co-workers in relationships in Christ. There is also the 'person of peace' who doesn't know Jesus yet, but knows you and likes you and a relationship is built.
That's why Acts 2:42 says they kept it simple, with home meetings centered around family: "They were in the apostles teaching, fellowship, food, and prayer." Those 4 elements. Very simple. Very comfortable and safe. Secure. Balanced. Like a family reunion each week - a family that loves and supports one another as a safety net in life.
When a Christian understands the whole of the New Testament was written by men doing church in the home to people doing church in the home, there is a sense of security that arises. There is an assurance that the resonance felt in their spirit is right.
I was horrified when in early 2001 I realized for the whole 25 years of my life and ministry I had lifted the NT I loved so much from the home and tried to squeeze it into an auditorium. I hate it when my words are taken out of context by someone and twisted by their own filters, baggage, history and bias. Yet I had done that very thing to the New Testament!
What is a person to do?
Do you know others on your same spiritual page? Maybe old friends from x church who are 'floating' or 'between churches now', or are seeking real relationships without the games and politics so commonly found in 'church'.
Meet for coffee/tea or a meal. Share each other's journeys. Is there commonality?
House church is first a commitment to grow, but also to grow within a frame work of relationships. Relationship based faith is living intentionally towards one another. In a biblical house church you don't just come and go at will like a butterfly entering the field for a while then moving on. It's being willing to stay, work through any issues, to value relationships in Christ. Gone are the days of throw away Christian relationships.
When in this recent visitation the Lord said He is causing His people to be aware of His culture within them, which will cause them to seek others who have that same understanding, we must realize this is an internal work. When the Lord told the 7 churches of Asia: He that has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches", we must realize that is an internal hearing. Whatever was going on in the Roman world outside of the body of Christ, the Lord was speaking to their 'inner ears' of the heart.
The world is still shouting loudly to get our attention. If you aren't aware of your spirit man you may miss what the Spirit is saying to the churches. In Acts 5:12-13 we find an interesting statement of opposites:
"And many signs and wonders we done by the apostles, and they were with one accord in Solomon's porch, and of the rest no one dared join them but they spoke highly of them. More believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women."
The Lord brought up the above passage from Acts 5:12-14 in this visitation, bringing up what He had told me earlier; That home based churches and meetings would become noted by those on the outside as the place to go to receive healings, miracles, and provision. But in this visitation He also added to that, saying we would see people both not daring to join themselves, and those who would be bold enough to believe on Him. The difference between the two was notable to Luke to record that observation in Acts 5, and we will see that same thing.
It is this contrast between the world's culture and the Lord's culture that we will see grow, until it will be very clear to see the difference. The question is - who has ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches? This is a process, a gradual work because it deals with the human will, but watch for it, first within yourself, and then in others who are spiritually dissatisfied, but can't quite perceive yet why or what they are looking for. Be there for them. Have a meal, talk, pray, share....
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org