WHAT TO DO? CALL TO ACTION
“…the people who know their God will be strong and take action” (Dan. 11:32 CSB).
If you know God with His eternal purpose for His ekklesia, you will take action and be a co-worker with the Lord Jesus. Every single believer can act for the building up of the Lord’s ekklesia. There is at least one action item a Christian can do now. The Lord Jesus with the Spirit will encourage and supply anyone taking these actions for His ekklesia since it is according to Scripture for His purpose.
Greeting: Crushing Satan under our feet
When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Rome, there were at least 5 different groups of Christians in Rome according to Romans 16. There were divisions among Christians at least based on Jewish or Gentile backgrounds, as well as socio-economic status. Rome can be considered a precursor for all the various groups of divisions among Christians today.
Paul’s desire, according to God’s eternal purpose, was for believers in Rome to be one body, in one fellowship. He made clear from Romans 9 through 15 that no distinctive group of believers is more superior or special than any other group of believers, because we are all members one of another in the one ekklesia.
Therefore, in Romans 16 he commanded believers to go greet one another, specifically those outside one’s own group or, if you would, “comfort zone.” Greeting in those days was not just walking by and saying “hello”; rather, typically, it included a meal with personal conversation. Greeting generally took place in each other’s homes. It was a time to hear each other’s stories. The meaning of “greet” in Greek includes uniting and embracing of each other.
After an unusually long list of individuals and people within groups that all were commanded to greet, such greetings resulted in Satan being crushed under their feet by the God of peace—not only personal peace via God’s salvation but peace between one another through the blood of His cross. Their indiscriminate greeting of one another would testify to the peace Christ wrought on the cross in bringing divided antagonists together in one new man, so making peace (Eph. 2).
So obeying Paul’s command to go greet would release believers out of their comfortable, yet divided, groups enabling them to fellowship with those whom they were unfamiliar. In today’s parlance, this is not church hopping, but has everything to do in reaching out to believers no matter what church they may attend.
It is so easy and flaccid to stay within a church or group of believers based on familiarity. However, it is through such gravitational pull, differing groups of Christians become divided. Therefore, an intentional and proactive greeting of those outside one’s chosen group is needed in order to spread the universal fellowship of Jesus Christ.
There are believers going to various churches within the same family, neighborhood, school, or workplace. Let’s reach out to hear each other’s stories, fellowship concerning Jesus Christ, and pray for one another. The greeters will crush Satan under their feet.
Ekklesia: A democratic assembly of believers
The fact is everyone knows what is church, going to church, and the behavior needed to stay accepted in any church. Although ekklesia is what Jesus Christ and the apostles were building, the very meaning of ekklesia and its practice have been obscured and concealed for centuries. It is only in God’s ekklesia where once divided and contrary believers can manifest oneness and harmony.
Although the Lord’s ekklesia in the New Testament were located in the homes of believers, do not mistake ekklesia to be equivalent to the “house church” or “organic church” movement. Generally, these house churches over time become homogeneous where those contrary to the dominant doctrine, perspective, practice, or personality of that house church find themselves unwelcomed or simply unfit in that group. These kinds of house churches evolve into another church (albeit smaller in number) with its own community of Christians separated from others.
Ekklesia, on the other hand, is wide open and fluid with no one dominating or controlling the gathering, and where having Christians from various factions is anticipated and necessary; therefore, everyone feels welcomed immediately. There are no insiders or outsiders, but everyone has the same right and privilege to contribute and speak out on behalf of Christ. Wait a minute. Doesn’t someone have to be in control—this can’t be a “free-for-all?!” “No” on both counts. No one controls nor dominates the gathering of an ekklesia and all things can be “done decently and in order” and, consequently, for edification (1 Cor. 14:40).
It is necessary to have factions in the ekklesia?
“. . . when you come together as a church [ekklesia] there are divisions among you . . . …Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1Cor. 11:19 NKJ).
In the only chapters, in found in the epistles, describing the manifestation of the Lord’s ekklesia (what does it look like?), the Apostle Paul said it is necessary to have factions when assembling. This is fully consistent with the Greek ekklesia (democracy) needing representation from every sector of their city in order to enact legislation. It is necessary to hear from diverse perspectives and experiences concerning their faith and Jesus Christ.
In a church setting, people from a contrary perspective will be marked as a troublemakers or as divisive persons if they voice their opposing views. A church, led by a ministry, simply cannot tolerate a vocal opposition to a focused position of that ministry. This is reasonable and understandable.
However, the Lord’s ekklesia expects and welcomes believers from diverse perspectives. This is the reason Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 says that as members in the Body of Christ, each member is different, none are the same. We all can’t be an eye, and an eye cannot say to the feet: I have not need of you. No matter how different, as long as a person declares “Jesus being Lord”, that person is a member of the Body.
What a freedom it is when the expectation is variety and diversity. In the Lord’s ekklesia, one can be who he/she is in Christ, and be accepted, honored, and loved. There is no need to conform and find ourselves in rigid uniformity. True love and equality of people from various races, with differing political leanings, and views on social hot-button issues, are manifested in the Lord’s ekklesia, His Body.
Let’s build up the Lord’s ekklesia. Start hosting at your house and gather believers from differing persuasions to break bread: Have a meal together with the remembrance and declaration of the Lord’s death and resurrection. Encourage everyone to speak out and share their insights, perspectives, and experiences while lifting up Jesus Christ as Lord.
Do it once a year, a month, or every week. This is not to build up another group as a “house church” or another defined group. Since no one dominates, claims ownership, or controls the ekklesia, the Spirit is the One moving and directing within the liberty of each and every believer.
Everyone speaks and no one dominates
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up . . . . ...If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged [1 Cor. 14:26, 30-31 ESV].
In 1 Corinthians 14 it continues the description of the Lord’s ekklesia which started in 1 Corinthians 11:17. This chapter unveils that every believer has the privilege and responsibility to speak to unveil the mystery of Christ and His Body. Similar to the Greek ekklesia where there was free-speech, Christians in the ekklesia are expected to freely speak their perspectives while lifting up Jesus Christ as Lord.
As in the feast to worship Jehovah in Jerusalem, one cannot come empty handed (Deut. 16:16); here in the Lord’s ekklesia where God receives glory, each one must have something to share of Christ. For the building up of the ekklesia (1 Cor. 14:4-5); one may bring a hymn, a revelation, or a teaching in order for everyone to be edified and encouraged (1 Cor. 14:3, 31). Each one’s portion, no matter how small, is needed. Even just five words can be enough of a contribution for building up (1 Cor. 14:19)—“all can prophesy one by one” (1 Cor. 14:31).
Everyone speaks, but no one can dominate. In a ministry/church setting, certainly a minister dominates and controls the message, but in the ekklesia, no matter how mature the person who may be speaking, he/she must yield to another one ready to speak. Once a person or a group dominates an ekklesia, it is no longer an expression of an ekklesia, but that of a ministry. Therefore, to keep the nature of ekklesia, all believers are needed to be vigilant not to take over an ekklesia by usurping the time, and by not letting anyone else dominate the gathering. The shy believers need to be emboldened and encouraged to cut in and speak, while the talkative members need to hold back.
It seems a bit rude—but “let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40); however, in an ekklesia gathering expect “interruptions” when one is speaking . . . “But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent” (1 Cor. 14:30). Don’t be offended, but allow others to “integrate” into your sharing; quick to forgive and forget! Lest we become a bit lopsided with interrupting too abruptly . . . “the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). Hold back your inspiration and not cut off the person speaking too quickly. Be generous and lovingly respectful to all the members of the ekklesia.
In such an environment of ekklesia, no matter which faction a believer may have considered themselves, they become one with all other members in the Body of Christ. They are now lifting up Jesus Christ Himself alone with those whom they may have contradictory doctrinal perspectives. In the meantime, there were unbelievers, as well, in the ekklesia at Corinth. These “unlearned” and “unbelievers” fell down to worship God because they witnessed God present in His one Body (1 Cor. 14:23-25). This is the fulfillment of the Lord’s prayer in John 17 where He proclaimed that the world would believe when the oneness of His people is manifested (John 17:21).
Let’s start hosting and participating in the Lord’s ekklesia as described in 1 Cor. 11:17 through 1 Cor. 14:40.
Those approved: peacemakers are the key to practicing ekklesia
“Indeed, it is necessary that there be factions among you, so that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Cor. 11:19 CSB).
“. . . for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things [is] acceptable to God and approved by men” [Rom 14:17-18 NKJV].
To be in a faction means a person made a choice to be identified with one group rather than in an opposing group. Generally, when people of differing factions come together, they will either be a clique by themselves, or if a discussion is started, a debate resulting in a division will be a likely outcome. Factions are of the sinful flesh and they divide the Body of Christ.
However, it is precisely in this environment that those approved (tested to be genuine) are recognized or manifested. They are the peacemakers. They are not taking sides; rather, they fellowship with all those from diverse factions and facilitate fellowship between those in opposition. Without those who are approved, then the ekklesia will devolve into divisions like it did in Corinth.
In Romans 14 where some believers from the Jewish faction gathered with the Gentile faction, the Apostle Paul charged them not to judge one another, but to receive one another. Furthermore, he defined an approved person to be one who serves within the sphere of the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17-19).
This person doesn’t take sides; rather, he/she is ministering righteousness before God, peace among previously divided people, which results in the joy of the Holy Spirit. This is pursuing peace and the things which build up one another.
When it comes to various polarizing doctrines and Christian practices, a peacemaker may well have his own conviction. However, for the sake of peace in the ekklesia and not to be a stumbling block to others with a contrary view, this approved person will keep it between himself and God (Rom. 14:20-22). His goal in the ekklesia is the kingdom of God, the coming together of once divided people.
The more there are those recognized as approved, as peacemakers, the more the Lord’s ekklesia will be manifested as the light of the world.
Team-up: Ministers teaming up for oneness
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side [lit. teaming up] for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God [Phil. 1:27-28 ESV].
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. ... For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building [1 Cor. 3:6, 9 ESV].
In Philippi, there were many ministers of the gospel and some were in rivalry and envy of each other (Phil. 1:15-18). Even two sisters who were laboring with the apostle Paul were divided (Phil. 4:2-3). Therefore, Paul charged them to work together as a team, to fight side-by-side like a tag-team in wrestling. When ministers team-up, then the adversary, Satan, will be frightened (terrified)—an “evident token of their perdition or destruction.” But to those teaming up for the gospel it will be the very manifestation of their common salvation!
Today, because ministers are typically building their own ministry/church, it is easy, even customary, to be in rivalry and envy with competing ministers. There may be competition for followers, resources, or recognition. This individualistic service has taken a toll on many ministers/pastors. According to Pastoral Care, Inc., 84% of all Pastors desire to have close fellowship with someone they can trust and in whom they can confide. That is a huge percentage of ministers feeling isolated and serving on their own.
Even though Paul and Apollos had their own independent ministries; yet, for the building up of the Lord’s ekklesia, Paul considered Apollos to be a co-worker on the same team. Those ministers whose ultimate goal is the building up of God’s people in oneness, will find it easy and necessary to team up with others for the same goal.
According to Ephesians 4, the goal of every gifted minister is to equip believers under their care so that these believers become activated to minister to others; so that they ultimately arrive at the oneness of the faith with all other believers, which is the building up of the Body of Christ. The measurement of success for a gifted minister is not how many people they can retain in their churches, but how many are equipped by them who can minister and fellowship with all other believers for the building up of the one Body.
When ministers recognize that the Lord’s ekklesia does not belong to any of them and none of them can have ownership or dominate the ekklesia, they will release those they are equipping and shepherding to build up the ekklesia while trusting the Chief Shepherd, Jesus.
Those ministers/pastors who would team up for this work will be blessed. They will be saved from their own anxiety of service, their lack, shortages, and struggles. They will be supplied by the bountiful supply of the Spirit and the support of other ministers. Satan will be defeated, and God will receive all the glory!
One Body Life recognizes and appreciates all the diverse and gifted ministers God has given to the Body of Christ. We are continually expanding a team-up network of ministers across the planet for the building up of God’s ekklesia. This is to mutually encourage and organically build up one another for the work of God’s ekklesia.