Every spiritual leader knows that the Church is not what it should be. There is a longing in the heart of every genuine Christian leader to see God’s people become what they should be, and to see maturity in the Body of Christ. There are things that need restoration, and these are a work of the Holy Spirit which we are asked to participate in.
In Acts 3:21 we find one of numerous references that refer to this idea. “Heaven must hold him until…” and the theme continues repetitiously with verses such as 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 which says “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”
Before the last enemy death is destroyed, many things must be brought to the feet of Jesus. Once a study begins scripturally on the concept of restoration, it becomes vast quickly. We the Church have a way to go, and in regards to that, we are going. The Body of Christ is going to continue to change until eventually it becomes mature, attaining to the measure of the fullness of Christ.
Including all who claim the name of Jesus, and considering them to be the “Church,” (the Body of Christ) there are in excess of 2 billion people who are Christian. This Church is traditional, mostly formal, liturgical (has a pattern of worship) and on the whole denominational. It is generally less like the New Testament church and rather more like the Old Testament example.
Even most modern and evangelical Christian groups still exhibit many patterns and ways which can be considered ‘liturgical’. They are simply more modern traditions or patterns. All of these things (liturgy, patterns) are outward and don’t really describe the heart of God’s people. They are not a true reflection of who people are.
The Old Testament had much to show us practically, physically and in tangible realities. However the book of Hebrews tells us that these are all shadows and types. The New Testament is about different realities such as the heart, about Christ, and our attitudes toward each other. That is why “love” is such a strong focus. It’s not something you can formalize with a constitution, or denominational rules. There is no “love government” or “love council” and it’s much more vague and harder to understand and explain, and yet simpler than anything we’ve known.
The Church in the world today is changing. This is God’s doing, not man’s. The Body of Christ is changing from being institutional, denominational and organisational, and it is becoming relational. It is changing from being centred around formal organised activities, to becoming centred around relationships and the heart. It’s a dramatic change of thinking for people – a paradigm change. The Church is becoming like Christ. Activity and program will continue but the church will not be described by the activity.
Once you have seen it, there can be no unseeing of it. Jesus said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are One.” This was not some vague concept of Godly unity. This was the fact that they WERE one in heart and mind. They thought and felt the same way. They were “on the same page.” They were singing from the same songbook. They felt the same way about each other. They were ONE. It was very much a heart thing.
Then Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Church would become one, just like He and the Father were one. Christ will have His prayers answered. Jesus’ prayer was that we would come to the same place as They had. This is a heart thing too.
All around the world, people are growing tired of the traditional form of Christianity. Although it may not be good that some people are leaving congregations, it’s a sign that people are wanting to find faith that is deeper than an outward form. And at the same time, many people are flocking to Christ. Pastors are yearning for fathering. Do not doubt that God is at work to bring about some great thing. It is the returning of the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers.
Essentially this means that pastors will not be alone in the ministry, they will have a father in the faith, who is a person who knows them and walks with them. It also means they will be a father to those with them, and love them and walk with them too.
At Peace Apostolic Ministries and our church Peace Christian Church, we refer to these kind of special relationships as “father-son relationships.” You will hear us or others talk about “sonship.” That’s a shorter way of talking about the same thing. Its not just sonship towards God himself, but the descriptor of the kinds of relationships we should have towards our spiritual leaders, and between each other.