This post was updated here on 4.14.15
Kingdom Principle: The Church is set apart in its Fellowship, for the sake of transformation. Transformation is the invitation to the world to join in the fellowship of the Church.
As the minds of the disciples were opened, so did the rest of the world open up to them. They were now free to be sent out as witnesses to such things. The Church is to be set apart in their fellowship and incarnational (the process of being sent out as the invitation) in their transformation. In an attempt to increase the fellowship of the church – the front door has been removed and the back door has been locked.
In this Easter season we are looking at the movement of the Church as it proclaims what it believes because of the resurrection; both its power to visibly change lives as well as to unify those lives into one expression.
Fellowship without Transformation is not healthy. The Greek word for Fellowship, is Koinonia. Chuck Van Engen – (Fuller Seminary professor, author and friend of mine) makes it teaches that when the fellowship of the church avoids transformation and growth – it suffers from koinonitus – which is an inflammation of koinonia (fellowship). This inflammation is an unhealthy infection that turns all its energy inward to fight infection hence reducing or even removing its mission to the world.
The church ought to have a front door as well as a back door. Both are to open and shut, both are to be a means to movement. When the church attempts to shut the back door they are addressing a marketing reality but missing a missional reality. The hope when closing the back door is that once you get people in your church you do what you can to prevent them from leaving because in marketing terms it is easier to develop what you have, rather than reaching a new target. The church was never intended to have a back door in this manner. In fact – Jesus blew the lock off the back door and said – I am sending you out. And for what reason – to go out and finish the work He has stared Acts 10:38 summarizes the work of Jesus saying, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
However the Church also has a front door on it – again – there is to be no lock – as Jesus demonstrated in Revelations 3 – He can be locked out of the church as well. The front door is to be a threshold, a signifying mark for those who enter the church. When you pass these doors all is to be different here. Much of the Church (marketing again) has worked to make the church on the inside – to look, mirror and act as the world on the outside, the hope is to remove the front door. There is to be a door, and not everyone is expected to come through it. I am not saying to keep the door shut, but I am saying it would serve the church to have identifying marks to its nature that sets it apart. The church is called to be set apart. At another time we will dive into the 5 purposes of the church at keep it on track to be set apart, (one of which is koinonia) but here I wanted to just briefly remind us that as the church was in formation – this period between the Resurrection and Pentecost – It had both the strength to be set apart as well to reach out and invite others in.
Peter spoke to the Jewish leaders and fellow Israelites – and said, you are on the outside of the greatest mystery of all times – the Messiah has come; it is not too late for you… John spoke to the church as said, be pure and live not with sin – for if you sin, then you are not with us. David in the Psalms often looked at those of the world and wondered why they slander and attack him so – yet he knew that in the LORD alone he was set apart and in the LORD was his security and safety. The disciples themselves were caught up in fear and Jesus confronted them with truth to set them free. They had locked the door and Jesus reinstated them for mission and sent them to share the resurrections with the world, but not until they had been set apart.
Connecting the last two weeks with this one…. The invitation to fellowship is not seeker sensitive, yet the Church is mission to the world – It is through the power of Confession -which the bride is made pure and holy. As pain, shame and guilt are removed from the lives of those who follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life, others will come to walk in the same path. This is not in the power or right choices of any one person, rather by following the One who is Righteous.
In what ways is your fellowship with believers – separate/ unique from those who do not believe?
How has and can pain, shame and guilt thwart fellowship? How can confession strengthen fellowship?
In what ways are you demonstrating to those who do not believe, that your fellowship leads to transformation in your life?
At the end of the day – to be with God in fellowship is all one needs. This contemplative truth has a paradox to it – if one is in true fellowship with God, that person will be so filled in such a way that they cannot help but to overflow and spread the good news to all whom them come in contact.