Wednesday, February 04, 2009



Although big C Churches may come and go, the church of Jesus-the gathering of His followers that He builds-will continue and thrive. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it."

The "gates of Hades" means death, specifically the coming death of Jesus will not prevent the church of Jesus from growing and thriving. The church of Jesus is built by Jesus and based on Jesus, the master of the followers who gather in His name. Jesus holds His movement together and will perpetuate it throughout the nations of the world. He is building His church and our responsibility is to be His church-His gathering-His movement.

What's interesting to me here is that the active agent is not the gates of Hades. It's not that the "gates of Hades" is the attacker of the church that Jesus builds. The active agent here is the church of Jesus-the Jesus movement itself-is so active and powerful that not even the gates of Hades-the power of death-can successfully withstand its penetration of light into the darkness.

This kind of power is not political power to legislate morality and righteousness. It's not a mega organization of any kind. Jesus is the only one who can activate this kind of power. He is the one who is able to empower His followers as they gather together in His name-Jesus. Note it's not the power of the membership of followers; it's the power of Jesus living and moving in and through His faithful followers.

The Jesus movement may appear small-just a few gathered together, but it's within the power of the few that the church of Jesus finds its greatest growth. Jesus taught this when He was describing what the Kingdom is to look like. Matthew records this teaching in the 13th chapter, He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." So, it looks small, yet the Kingdom-the Jesus movement-the church of Jesus-will experience incredible growth. It can't be stopped!

Jesus goes on to say in this same setting, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened." Here Jesus uses the illustration of a woman who puts a little yeast into about 60 pounds of dough and it permeates throughout the entire dough. No matter what you do, you cannot reverse this process. You cannot remove the yeast, once it is introduced into the dough. What He is teaching here is that the Kingdom-the Jesus movement-the church of Jesus-will experience irreversible growth. Again, once the Jesus movement is introduced into a community, it can't be stopped from spreading!

Aside from the pastors and Church leaders I referenced earlier in the week, those who are working in other cultures really understand the church of Jesus, how it functions and how it multiplies. The church of Jesus cannot be stopped. So, whether you are attending a big C Church or not, always look for the Jesus movement in your community. You can be sure He is there and active in people's lives. So, pray that you will be aware of Jesus sightings around you, then do everything you can do to encourage the movement and embrace it for yourself. See what Jesus is doing and get there as soon as possible!



As I mentioned yesterday Jesus only mentions the term "church" on two occasions. The "church" was not even close to the primary theme of Jesus' teachings. What Jesus emphasized more than anything else was the Kingdom.

The parables Jesus taught were about the Kingdom. Frequently, Jesus referred to what it takes to "enter" the Kingdom and He takes pains to point out those who will not "enter". Jesus believed it was necessary to hang out with His disciples after His resurrection for 40 days to prove Himself as the resurrected one and He taught them during this time thoroughly about one thing-the Kingdom. This is recorded in the first chapter of Acts. Then, in the last chapter of Acts Paul spends two years teaching and conversing about two things with those who came to visit him in Rome-Jesus and the Kingdom.

The Kingdom is the rule of God on planet earth both personally and in community. The church is a simple gathering together of Kingdom kids. Remember, the term "church" is not a special or holy word as many believe and teach. It literally means "called out ones" and was used to describe city council meetings or any kind of assembly where people are called out to meet for a purpose. It simply is a gathering of followers of Jesus.

The simple gathering of followers of Jesus on any day and at any location is a church. These gatherings revolve around four ingredients-fellowship, food, prayer and the apostles' teachings. The only one of these ingredients that might throw you a bit might be the apostles' teachings. We see this as what had been passed on through the early disciples about Jesus and the Kingdom.

So, since the kingdom is the rule and presence of God on planet earth, you could also think of it as wherever the King is, there is the Kingdom. The King and the Kingdom are inseparable. Therefore a good way to view the Kingdom is Christ-likeness universalized. Or, I like to say the Kingdom is Jesus actualized! The Kingdom is living out the principles and teachings of Jesus together.

The Kingdom is universal and everywhere. The church is a local gathering of followers of Jesus who are seeking, sharing in and spreading the gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom. The church is not everywhere, but localized and limited to those who choose to gather together. The Kingdom is everywhere and unlimited in its impact on society. The Kingdom is not waiting for a local gathering to be established in order to have its effect. The Kingdom is already there in every country and in every culture.

Now, take these same three characteristics of the preeminent Jesus and apply them to the Kingdom today-where the King is: FIRST-The example of character. The Kingdom is the only moral authority with any kind of power to change society. The big C Church is not capable of it. The organized Church changes from time to time. Sometimes it is effective and sometimes it's not. Leaders are morally good and leaders become morally flawed. So, at any given time, the Church will not be able to deliver a moral authority to the community. The Kingdom is constant. It's power and effectiveness depend upon its leader-Jesus. Therefore living in the Kingdom and inviting others to share in it is the only solution to transforming a broken culture.

SECOND-Jesus' teachings lead to fulfillment and meaning. Jesus is the ultimate standard and the Kingdom is the lifestyle of living this out in society. The lifestyle of Kingdom living is where ultimate fulfillment and meaning reside. They are the laws of the universe. You cannot break the laws of the Kingdom, but they can break you. For instance, one of the laws of the Kingdom is to forgive those who have hurt you. If you refuse to live out this Kingdom principle, you will pay dearly for it. You will be bound by your lack of forgiveness. You will be eaten up with this unforgiving heart. By breaking the principle, you are broken. When living within the Kingdom, you are safe and free and most fulfilled.

THIRD-The presence of God. Where better to discover a personal relationship with the God of gods than where He lives in His Kingdom. Most people only go to Church at baptisms, marriages, and funerals-only to be hatched, matched and dispatched. As followers of Jesus practice the presence of the Kingdom, the church (a gathering of followers) goes to the people in our world rather than always invited them to come to Church. With this kind of practice our culture will be changed.

Here's how it works. FOLLOW THE KING AND YOU'LL DISCOVER THE KINGDOM; EMBRACE THE KINGDOM LIFESTYLE AND YOU'LL DISCOVER THE KING AS YOU GATHER TOGETHER IN THE NAME OF JESUS. The church of Jesus-the Jesus movement-is living out the Kingdom principles in society.