It is inconceivable to us, to believe, indeed laughable, to entertain the idea that Jesus might show up at the church we lead or where we worship, and do so with a whip, turning over the tables of coffee and donuts in the foyer, then rambling into the sanctuary and shouting about the church being a house of prayer!
We would have him arrested – maybe crucified!
It was unthinkable to the Jewish leaders in the early part of the first century as well. He was mad. Crazy. Unhinged. And his charges unfounded. When we read the story, we are on the side of Jesus. History allows us to see more clearly. However, if we had lived in that era and our worldview had been through the lens of the prevailing Jewish paradigm, it is likely that we would have been appalled at the actions of Jesus. Even if we liked him a bit, were intrigued by his teachings, were amazed and grateful for the multiplied healings and other good deeds he performed, we would probably have felt that such actions were ‘over the top’ and unnecessary. Looking back, we have been given the advantage of history – it is a view from outside the prevailing paradigm. The view from inside any paradigm always looks different.
Is it possible that we are so trapped into a view of church as a facility, a place, a once-a-week worship event, three songs-offering-special and sermon, that we have and are missing the purpose of God for the church? For our congregation? For God’s work through the church in our times?
In the Old Testament, the tabernacle, the temple, and subsequently the synagogue, each represented a place to which people came to encounter God, to worship and pray. The model was centripetal – a force that draws from the outside to a center. It was a ‘come to’ and ‘bring to’ model. In the New Testament, the holy place is replaced by a holy person. The Word became flesh and dwelt – or tabernacled – among us, and we beheld the glory of God, not in a place, but on a person (John 1:1-4f).
John particularly made the point that the paradigm had shifted from a holy place to the holy person, Jesus, and subsequently, to the creation of a holy people. The dynamic shifted as well, from centripetal (drawing to) to centrifugal, a force that pushes out from the center. The ‘come to’ model was replaced by a ‘go ye’ model. Clearly, with our preoccupation with buildings and ceremonies, with events and festivals, we so easily slip back into an Old Testament model.
For decades, especially since the rise of the mega-church movement, we have emphasized an attractional model of worship. It has drifted toward entertainment and inspiration. It has focused on larger crowds – more is better; and, not on larger people – deeper is better. As a consequence, studies now indicate, with all the stage lights and sounds, the Sunday service as a production, we may be gathering more people, but we have fewer true disciples living Christ-centered lives, less Bible-believers, less evangelism.
The priests and the temple authorities were so committed to their model, they could not embrace the idea from their own scriptures that the temple was to be a “house of prayer for the nations” – for the gentiles, for the outsiders.
It was not more prayer of the kind that regularly happened in the temple for which Jesus was calling – it was a complete change in emphasis. It was a call to mission – to missional prayer, to inclusion.
This blog is an excerpt of Doug’s upcoming book, The New Apostolic Epoch: God’s Determination to Have a Praying and Missional People. Apostolic epochs involve a breaking away, a new definition and a reorientation. They refocus kingdom purposes. The apostolic epoch that we are now entering is the fulfillment of the desire of Jesus, that his church be a house of prayer for all nations. This is the not the mere amplification of prayer as it is often perceived. It is not the addition of a missing prayer component, or prayer even as a bountiful additive, a power pack, to what we are currently doing. It is not the mere deepening or heightening of the value of prayer; it is a seismic apostolic shift. Through this assertive sovereign governance of God, He will intervene into history for missional purposes. It is my sincere belief that we are on the edge of such a moment again.
We are recruiting a launch team for to help spread the word about this important book! This team will be a core group of people that will:
- Read a pre release digital copy of the book
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