I think I’m slowly comprehending the profound cleavage that’s occurring today in how folks understand “Church”.
The Old Covenant was a revelation about God – His nature and precepts – with a tabernacle/temple where people could go to find His presence and a priesthood to help get right with Him.
This is like many churches today, which do a wonderful job teaching us about the Lord, providing a place and an environment for us to experience His presence, and serving as a bridge between God and His people.
Many are content to go to church to learn about God, feel His presence, and have an anointed and appointed pastor and his worship team mediate from the front. It would be dishonest to deny that those can be truly amazing, life-affirming pillars for one’s faith.
But in the New Testament, is that God’s perfect will?
The Cross ushered in a New Covenant, which now is about God in us so that He is expressed through us. Through you, and through me. It is no longer a passive, externally-directed and mediated experience.
For example, church ceases to be a place where we go to have mediators invoke His presence among us or bring us into His presence. It is no longer half sing-along and half lecture. It also ceases to be a platform for the anointed and appointed few.
Rather, from a New Covenant perspective church starts becoming an expression of the dynamic, vibrant and transformational reality of His presence in us – each and everyone. Furthermore, the expression of Jesus in me is going to look very differently than Jesus in you. Yet valuing those differences – and encouraging them to come forth in our personal lives, our relationships and in our meetings – is essential if we want church to become a local expression of the fully functioning Body of Christ.
Very, very few churches grasp this or provide a framework for this to happen. They are still, in practical terms, acting very Old Covenant.
But once you understand this distinction, your relationship to the Lord and your concept of the church – its meetings, its purpose, its structure, its leadership, and its very flavor – can’t help but fundamentally change.
It might, believe it or not, actually start looking New Testament!
~ Jim Wright