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Leaders

How does this idea sit with you? Jesus is standing outside the door of the Church at Laodicea and He is knocking seeking entry. But is not this scenario a total contradiction of all that we have believed about the relationship of Christ to His Church?

In part 1 of these reflections around the theme of God wanting His Church back, I attempted to alert the reader to the Church that was really the model of a Church that has evicted the Head of the Church.

The Church at Laodicea was in dire straits so far as its spiritual condition was concerned. They thought they had everything - wealth, status, reputation. However, that's not the way Jesus saw them

Rev 3:18  "You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked..."

There is another faith community recorded in Scripture where the setting was similar; a 'Church' that just didn't get what God was about in His world. So specific accusations and charges were brought against this Church by none other than God Himself. I refer to the Old Testament book of Malachi where we find the Lord exposing the conduct of false faith.

Mal 1:6 "A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honour due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?" says the LORD Almighty. "It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.

In the days when the Jews were returning from the Exile, they eventually re-established a faith community but, in doing so, they failed to let God be God. They treated their religious activities in such a way that the Lord God finally challenged them - as above. Here are a few other examples where God was marginalised by this same group.

Mal 2:17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?"

Mal 3:8-9 "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse — the whole nation of you — because you are robbing me.

Mal 3:13-15 "You have said harsh things against me," says the LORD. "Yet you ask, 'What have we said against you?' "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty?  But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'"

These people treated their "Church" as though it was their possession to do with as they chose. But (in New Testament terms) the Church is the Bride of Christ. Jesus is the groom and the Church is exclusively His possession and the way we minister and function as Christian Leaders must clearly evidence that reality.

So, giving the Church back to God becomes not just a catchy slogan but, rather, it must be at the very heart of who we are and why we are here and how we will co-labour with Him and what He is still doing in our (His?) world.

But how do we "give the Church back to God"? That needs to be addressed in my next post.

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