A man came upon a construction site where three people were working. He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!”
All three of these men were doing the same thing. The first man had a job. The second man had a career. The third man had a calling. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a great calling on your life. This calling is part of God’s great plan to extend His kingdom and bring hope to the world. Consider these questions: What is Jesus doing today? Is there some effect in my life? Am I a part of something bigger than myself or just come together once a week? Am I part of a movement or something that is just stationary? These are all key questions that have life-altering answers.
Jesus is enlarging His Kingdom and desires men and women to partner with His great aim. Matthew 16:18 says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”Do you hear the partnership in that? He is inviting us to partner with Him to build His church. It is an invitation into participation. We are the ones God desires to move through to plunder hell and populate heaven.
After 20 years of walking with Jesus I have realized an important fact. You cannot be a thriving believer outside of community. I don’t know one person that is becoming more like Jesus outside of community.
This is because God wants us to learn to love and get along with one another in our new family. The writer of Hebrews was speaking to a judged and marginalized people that had their fair share of interpersonal conflict when he said, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25).
These people believed the gathering together was more valuable than what you might lose for gathering together. They drove their stake deep into the ground of community knowing that there were going to be some hard times. We need to pound our stake so far in the ground that it never can get back out. You can’t even take it back out.
There are many references to the people of God: Body of Christ, the Temple of the Lord, the House of the Lord, Bride of Christ, the People of God. The most prevalent identifiable word is church: mentioned 85 times in the NT. The Greek word for church is Ekklesia. An Ekklesia is a congregation, an assembly of people, a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place for a town hall meeting. In other words, the church is never something someone is by themselves. It is never an individual thing. It’s not something you attend, it’s something you belong too. The church is not a person, it’s a people. The church is not something we are without each other therefore the gathering as family is extremely important.
When we give our lives to Jesus, it is no longer an individual life. We are embedded in a family where we seek His counsel and His love. He gives us roles and responsibilities in our body that we will never become who God desires if we are not embedded in that context. Five things to drive your stake into:
- We gather to meet with Jesus.
This is our purpose and if we come for less, we will be disappointed. It is the power and the presence of the Lord that we come for. Luke 6:17–19 says, “And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.”
As people sought after Him, He healed them all. When He went to “them”, He only healed a few. When there is a hunger and expectation as we come together to see the Messiah of the world, His power and presence are released. We are created to have a personal connection with the Lord and corporate connection with the Lord. I recently had a conversation with a man that mentioned he had missed church a few weeks due to his work. He explained how much he had missed the corporate gathering of the saints because the power and presence of the Lord are available to us in very unique ways as we gather. When we come for anything less than Jesus, we will be sadly disappointed. Drive your stake into gathering together to meet with Jesus.
- We gather to worship the Lord.
There are over 950 verses in the Bible about singing to God. There is something powerful about gathering together, closing our eyes, and worshiping the Lord together. Colossians 3:15–16 says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Psalms are Old Testament psalms put to music, primarily, but the term was used also of vocal music in general. The early church sang the Psalms. Hymns are songs focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual songs may be described as the songs which are spontaneous and are inspired by the Holy Spirit itself. This is the song that only you can bring to the Lord. Spiritual songs are spontaneous songs that are an overflow of worship back to the Lord for all He is and has done. Drive our stake deep into gathering together to worship the Lord.
- We gather to be equipped.
What would it be like if people gathered together to be equipped to do the thing we talked about? What would it be like to come ready to be equipped? Ephesians 4:10–13 says, “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry,for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
God has given some to turn around and equip others. That is your purpose. A prophet in Old Testament was a mediator between God and man. In the New Testament, a prophet is a mentor to equip the people of God to hear the voice of God for others and to hear for themselves. Equipping is placing tools and weapons in people’s hands to live overcoming.
We come to be equipped. We should come with that expectation to give and receive. Both are true and needed. We must fight against the propensity to accumulate knowledge only. It can’t stop in our heads…it must transpire to our lives. Drive our stake into gathering to be equipped.
- We gather to share a spiritual gift.
Sharing is one of the most fundamental principles we parents teach our children. The church is not a restaurant where we drive in and order and get what we want and if we don’t like it we don’t come back. The church is a potluck where everyone brings something. We bring something to give away. Another way to say it is God give us gifts to give away. 1 Corinthians 14:26 says, “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”
If our expectation was to gather to give something away, how would City Central change? How would our value for this change? I believe many would be excited because they realize they have much to offer.1 Corinthians 14:3–4 says, “On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.”When we share our spiritual gifts with one another, individuals and the church are built up. Drive your stake into this!
- We gather to pray and to pray for others.
Healing flows when we pray for one another. James 5:16 says,“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Do you notice the connection between confession of sin and healing? I think if we learned to confess our sin then we would see more freedom.
Confession starts with an honest heart before God. Healing comes where honesty is. Honest prayers of dependence and transparency. What if healing started to flow when we got honest before God and others. Drive your stake into gathering to be a prayerful people.
Being the church in word and deed will call us to live committed community that meets with Jesus, worships the Lord, is expectant to be equipped, ready to share our spiritual gifts, and prayerful for God’s will to be done. We need to pound our stake so far in the ground that it never can get back out. Drive your stake in today!