This is a continuation of our post from yesterday. “How You View The Church Makes A Difference.“
The entire point of this weeks posts is to help us gain a perspective of the local church so that we can make informed decisions on what we should be doing and how we should be leading in this day and age of the local church.
Now that we have approached and covered that aspect of gaining a perspective of the local church lets continue on with the theme we have. That being the sons of Issachar.
In the description of David’s army in 1 Chronicles 12, we read of the sons of Issachar who were “men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do.”
That is prophetic perspective – understanding the times and knowing what we should do in those times.
In order to elevate this, lets take a quick tour of our history, so that we can understand the times in which we live now.
My first step is to give just a brief outline of our History…I got this from Willmington’s book of Bible lists
1. The Creation Stage:Gen. 1-11
2. The Patriarchal Stage:Gen. 12-50; Job
3. The Exodus Stage:Exod.—Deut.
4. The Conquest Stage:Josh.
5. The Judges Stage:Judg.—1 Sam. 1-7
6. The United Kingdom Stage:1 Sam. 8—1 Kings 11; 1 Chron.—2 Chron. 9; Pss.—Song of Sol.
7. The Chaotic Kingdom Stage:1 Kings 12—2 Kings; 2 Chron. 10-36; Isa.—Lam.; Hos.—Zeph.
8. The Babylonian Captivity Stage:Dan.; Ezek.
9. The Return Stage:Ezra—Esther; Hag.—Mal.
10. The Gospel Stage:Matt.—John
11. The Early Church Stage:Acts
12. The Epistles Stage:Rom.—Rev.
As stated in “The Legacy We Leave“ we can not separate ourselves from those who have gone before us. Here in America we are keen on blazing our own trail and not giving much thought to those who have gone before us. We never want our legacy tied to someone else. We want our own legacy.
But as a Christian we can’t separate ourselves from the work that was already done. The list above leads us to a certain time and place in History. It leads us to the Cross and demonstrates the power that was received after the resurrection. We are tied to that work. Our inheritance rely solely on being part of the family of God. To deny that is to deny your faith.
Now lets break this down a little bit more…
Understanding what we must do next requires a historical context.
The Church of the first century was a true movement. It is estimated by some that there were about 25,000 Jesus followers at the end of the first century AD.11 Two hundred years later the number had jumped to 20,000,000. That is astounding growth in a time when there was primitive communication and transportation infrastructures. The spread of Christianity had to be accomplished person-to-person.
Alan Hirsch notes that the Church of that period had the following qualifications:
1. They were illegal.
2. They had no church buildings (as we know them).
3. They didn’t have the Scriptures (as we know them).
4. They didn’t have an institution or the professional form of leadership normally associated with it.
5. They didn’t have seeker-sensitive services, worship bands, seminaries, commentaries, etc.
6. They actually made it hard to join the church.
Despite all of these “obstacles”, the early Church spread across the Roman Empire with lightning rapidity. In the year 313 the Roman Emperor Constantine legitimized Christianity through the Edict of Milan, and what had been a Spirit-led, apostolically-driven movement was reduced to a governmentally promoted institution, driven more by political realities and agendas than by spiritual experiences or theological beliefs.
Christianity became Christendom - the political and social world which has been or is dominated by Christianity.
One of the effects of the Edict of Milan was to move Christianity from “the margins of society to the center”.
Christianity became the political and legal religion of the empire and adopted an institutional form and expression consistent with its new status. It built massive buildings, developed a professional clergy, devised doctrinal systems designed to protect the faith from heresy, declared entire segments of the population to be “Christian”, and engaged in political, social, and economic practices to benefit the maintenance and growth of the institutional church system.
I can only feel the chaffing of pastors at this moment.
I am not challenging your worth, position or working within the local church. I know how hard you work and all the great things that God can and does do in this system…which i will approach in tomorrows post.
I will however ask you to challenge yourself and ask…what is more important.
The survival of the church system or the mission of Christ?
Now I am sure we would all say the mission of Christ…and keep in mind I did not say the survival of the Church…I said church system.
I am also not saying that we need to make it illegal and chaotic to make it better…or even dare I say that it needs to be better.
What I would ask though, is how are you doing at the tasks of the church.
How are you glorifying God in the church system? What is it in the working of the church system that makes everyone say…I am not doing my will but the will of the Father?
Do we have a clear understanding of the times and know exactly what we should be doing…???