This past week, I posted a particular article challenging us to build correctly, according to the blueprint of God.
I specifically looked at Abraham, and even more, the insight given to us by the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament (Hebrews 11:8-10). I noted that, by faith, Abraham saw something quite significant of what God wanted to build. But, even upon entering the land of promise, he still felt as if he were in a foreign land. Ultimately, he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Abraham must have seen something, something of what God wanted to build, but he never really saw it fully come into fruition. And that’s what the author of Hebrews tells us in 11:13.
We also find Jesus giving us the hope that He would build His church (Matthew 16:18). And, of course, He has been faithfully doing such as the enthroned Lord and Messiah.
But, if we are truly honest, we can find ourselves building quite contrary to the pattern of God. Or, we could deny such and claim that what we are building in accordance with God’s design. But this will leave us in a rather bad state – deceived.
It’s all around us, for we can either add in lots of things that have nothing to do with the kingdom rule of God or we forget to include certain aspects that should be instrumental.
So, we need to be at that place of seeing what God desires to build. We cannot build based solely upon our particular cultural expression of the faith (though I am all for considering what is relevant to our culture). Nor are we called to build after the pattern of our particular denomination or church circle (although there might be some good things mixed in).
It doesn’t work that way, or it shouldn’t work that way.
We have to see like Abraham saw, participate in what Jesus really wants to build. But that’s hard, for we all have quite a few presuppositions of what we should include and exclude as we participate in the work of God. There might be significant things that are in the way and there might be a plethora of smaller things blocking our vision. But they all stand in the way of truly building after the heart of God.
So we need to take time to press into Him, see and hear what He is doing. If we do so, we will find ourselves doing what the divine Son practised Himself:
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” (John 5:19)
I was reading Jeremiah this week (still am, since it is quite long) and the first chapter is quite well-known. But I like these specific words God speaks to Jeremiah:
Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:9-10)
What God really made clear to me from this passage is that before we can build properly (or build and plant as Jeremiah was called), at times we need to first see things plucked up and broken down, even destroyed and overthrown.
I believe Jeremiah was aware of this important aspect. He had a calling to build and plant. But, through the words of God, he knew he was going to have to get involved in plucking up and breaking down and destroying and overthrowing before he could take that all-important step to building and planting after the pattern of God.
Yeah, his people were in a mess. But, when I view the calling of the church in all of its glory, I think we are slightly off. We are not so close to the goal of maturity and unity and glory that God so designed for His bride. And that’s why I think Ephesians 4:13 is somewhat eschatalogical. It tells us where we are headed, that huge goal:
…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The word until says we are on our way, but we aren’t there just yet.
And sometimes it feels we are very far away.
So, let’s be real with one another – I’ve got things that need to be plucked up and broken down, even destroyed. You’ve got things that need to be plucked up and broken down, even destroyed. I can’t see a proper foundation being laid if we have things already there that need to be removed. There needs to be a healthy DNA structure from the beginning.
I have not really pointed to any particular things that I believe need to be removed before we start building properly, but I think we can think of a few. I’m not talking morality here, though right living is excellent. I’m talking about the things that become so hardened in our minds and hearts as musts as we build. Or I’m thinking of things that we keep off to the side that really need to be a part of this new creation life.
We are ok for Jesus to be in our lives….but only as long as we can stay comfortable.
Our gatherings are not what they should be. Our compassion is not what it should be. Our vision is not what it should be. Our interaction with the third person of the Trinity who resides in us is not what it should be. Our ‘fellowship’ becomes superficial rather than authentic. Our services become super-charged with electric excitement, but they miss the presence of the Spirit Himself. And, oh, we could go on and on.
God forbid He should ever speak this over our lives:
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
I so passionately desire to build according to the pattern of God, but before we take the steps forward for such, we need to see certain things removed. I mean completely removed and destroyed. For each person and local community, it’s different. But we just need to start realising it’s time for some things to go.
Jesus, help us see what you are building so that whatever is not according to your blueprint, we can see those things, those strongholds, torn down and plucked up. Then, and only then, can we walk out that word to Jeremiah – moving to a place of being able to plant and building correctly.
A friend (who functions as one of the pastors of the church group I attend) has spent years off and on working on a book on building the house of God according to His pattern, based on extensive reading and studying of the Scriptures. Those in the church who have read the draft say it’s one of the best things they’ve ever read on the subject. He’s searching for a publisher and/or a way to get it published, and I hope he’s successful so I can soon read it.
We have someone with our network of churches who has, likewise, crafted a manuscript of similar sorts. I think it is in the revision stage right now. Hopefully both can make it out.