SHAPING OUR CITY – AND NOT BEING SHAPED BY THE CITY.
The people of God have been given a wonderful commission, to represent Christ on the earth and to make his presence real in every location. I remain optimistic that we are to pray and work toward some clear evidence of the presence of God’s kingdom manifesting within society in the HERE and NOW.
A church truly gathered under one heavenly head is one that is placed in and through all of creation.
As the head of a new humanity Christ is not divided, the apostolic church knew nothing of denominational division. It was not denominated by theology or celebrity, but only by geography.
Geographical boundaries and civil jurisdictions alone determined the church’s boundaries. When the apostle wished to address a church he would speak to the whole church of the city; for example, the `church of God in Corinth’ (1 Cor 1:2). Evidently, the church, even in these large cosmopolitan cities, was functioning as one unified whole (also 2 Cor 1:1; 1 Thes 1:1; 2 Thes 1:1; Rev 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14; Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:2). Anything less was an aberration, provoking apostolic rebuke.
WE MUST DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS FOR TERRITORY’S SAKE
The shape of the church (the wine-skin) is indeed an important issue, as so many ‘shapes’ are spectacularly unhelpful at facilitating this agenda, but it also needs to be said that the start of the journey is unlikely to be in the realm of seeking to change the shape. Wine-skins do not produce wine. The initial approach has to be of a transformation of mind and through that a desire to see the empowerment of all the saints of Jesus Christ – THIS WILL LEAD TO A CHANGE OF WINE-SKIN, either through the church yielding to that empowerment of the saints or through a separation of the body from the restrictions placed upon them as they find a re-positioning in God’s creation.
We cannot avoid the implications for the shape of church, but the primary focus has to be the release of the saints to their calling. The release of the body is a more primary issue than the change of structure, but the former will subsequently have a major impact on the latter. We have related in the past with those with whom we have had a common identity – we have experienced relationships for identity’s sake. Those relationships cannot now take us any further. We are not to be unfaithful to previous relationships but if those relationships for identity’s sake ever prevent us from laying hold of relationships for territory’s sake , we will have to sacrifice the former for the sake of the latter.
We are to get off the train of convention – it is terminating here. These are days to journey where we have never gone before. If we do not do that, we might have temporary success but in reality the territory will inevitably shape the church, rather than the church shape the territory as Jesus intended.
Lastly the other aspects is Warfare . The need for a people who live in the midst of their city in a different spirit is necessary if we are to see our cities and areas impacted. it is a call to be relational with a servant-heart
Ayodeji Ezra- Williams
Founding Elder & Convener