Tag Archive: ecclesia


The Ecclesia

Jesus’ ecclesia is the most powerful group on earth, way above any parliament, congress or senate. And, amazingly, all Christians are called to be involved.

Ecclesia was a term used in ancient times for a political assembly of citizens who were “called-out” from a local community with the purpose of governing the community. Jesus uses this same term for His true followers in Matthew 16:18 when He says, “I will build my ecclesia”.

Built on a Foundation

That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, is the bedrock on which He builds His ecclesia. Through faith in Jesus, people are reborn and included. Effectively, He calls people and those who respond with faith are miraculously changed. They’re given a new spirit and God’s Spirit comes to live inside each one of them.

Nature of the Ecclesia

Members of His ecclesia are individually and corporately led by Jesus, filled with His Spirit and trained in His ways. They have a new outlook on life, recognizing that Jesus is really in charge of everything. And, God’s love is their key distinguishing mark.

The Task of the Ecclesia

Jesus’ ecclesia is light to a dark world. They exhibit God’s governance, pray for more of it to come and offer it to all by proclaiming God’s love and forgiveness of sins.  In turn, more people are brought into relationship with the living God and under His loving rule. And, they automatically form part of Jesus’ ecclesia too.

The Kingdom of God is offered and not forced onto people. But where it is accepted, the light and life of the Kingdom begin to take hold and transform lives and communities. For more on bringing change into this world see my next post, The Ecclesia – “Thy Kingdom Come”.

(Essentially, Jesus is the only gateway into the kingdom in the analogy in John 10:9. This post uses the picture of a gateway for the ecclesia in a closely related, yet different way.)

Rob Morley

Peacock - CopyLeadership is determined by the extent you influence regardless of rank. And, contrary to how most local churches and denominations have been structured and governed, the New Testament church did not use or require hierarchy when it came to leadership. The elders, whether apostles, prophets, evangelists or pastors and teachers, had no rank in the body of Christ.  The respect due to them was by virtue of their calling to a particular role of servanthood in the body of Christ. Rank and titles did not exist, only roles.

The honor and respect that anyone received was the fruit that came from an environment of mutual submission. This atmosphere allowed for the recognition of one another’s roles. And, not only was this the case, but to further reinforce this counter-worldly-thinking, Paul said “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are in fact indispensable, and the parts of the body that we think are less honorable are treated with special honor, and we make our less attractive parts more attractive. However, our attractive parts don’t need this. But God has put the body together and has given special honor to the parts that lack it,  so that there might be no disharmony in the body, but that its parts should have the same concern for each other” (1Cor. 12:22-25).

Those in the Body of Christ who were more mature were able to assist the Chief Shepherd as elders in shepherding the flock. God’s word, whether written or spoken, was the only authority. Consequently the elders had no more or less authority than anyone else. And yet, through their maturity and experience in the knowledge of God’s word they were able to be useful guides to each other and especially the young in the flock.

Sadly, this style of church was eroded over time by the desire for control and power among its leaders. And, in time, the church began taking on the very leadership styles of this world that Jesus told them, in Matthew 20:25-27 and 23:2-12, to stay away from. In these passages you will see that Jesus not only taught that we aren’t to lord it over one another, but also that we are not to even have authority over one another, nor use titles, because we are all brothers. See for yourself:

“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant); And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (slave)” (Matt. 20:25-27).

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat … But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Matt. 23:2-12).

Rob

Layered Frame 2The Ecclesia in Jesus’ day were the “called-out ones” from a local community whose purpose was to bring governance to the community.

Jesus uses this same model by calling-out members of this world into an ecclesia of His own. They are called-out and trained in his ways and then sent back to offer the governance of the Lord to the people of this world. The governance of the Lord is able to affect not only individuals, but also all spheres of society.

Jesus said that He would build His Ecclesia upon Himself, “the Christ, the Son of the living God” and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The purpose of Jesus’ Ecclesia is in the proclamation of this truth. We are to go into the world and proclaim that God’s promised Messiah has come, bringing people into relationship with the living God and under His loving rule.

The kingdom of God is offered and not forced onto people. Where it is accepted, the life of the Kingdom begins to take hold and transform lives and communities.

Rob Morley

No Reason to Ever Separate

We are all a part of Jesus and the ecclesia and that is our reason for gathering. We have made the idea of dividing around doctrine the norm of Christianity when it shouldn’t even be in our thoughts. If Jesus hangs out with you, then who am I not to do the same?

Rather than to unrealistically expect to raise people in our squeaky clean versions of doctrine and ways of doing things, we should learn to accept and live with anyone that Jesus does. We all know that He is in the midst of each of our gatherings, yet sadly we cannot find a way to be in each other’s presence despite our differences.

For the most part, what separates us is no reason to do so. In fact, I’m not sure that there is a reason to ever gather separately. Our separating smacks of the old apartheid (I speak as a white South African). When one’s in the middle of it, you might not really see it for what it is, but certainly in hindsight it is something to be ashamed of.

I like to think of church like family. There needs to be some very serious differences to keep a family from sharing a Thanksgiving meal together. Surely our differences that we separate over are meant to be overcome by longsuffering and not through separation. Our variant views are seldom flagrant sin and even the necessary separation of those who are unrepentant and practicing obvious moral sin is only so that they may be restored.

Not only is our separation shameful, but it hinders our own blessing, for where we live in unity God commands His blessing. Hanging out with each other despite our differences is not easy and it will require a lot of His grace and the love that Jesus said we would be recognized by, but surely it’s worth it.

We cannot find our security in our doctrines and denominations, but we have our security in Jesus and the word of God. We were not left to have to choose the best group. These groups are of our own making through putting our knowledge above the type of love and unity where there is a freedom to disagree.

Let us remember 1Cor 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Rob

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