In my last post I raised the idea of whether principalities and powers tremble as we gather as His ekklesia. I think they should and I will explain both why and how. In the process I will attempt to address what Jesus envisioned when He said, “I will build my church/ekklesia” and the importance of the injunction in Hebrews 10 to be ‘assembled.’ If you are concerned that I am going to delve into how we rebuke and bind spiritual entities, let me assure you, I believe that to be both foolish and potentially dangerous! I want to focus on how we simply walk and live out our faith in genuine spiritual fellowship and community. In recent years I wrote a manual on hearing the Lord’s voice and in my introduction noted that hearing from Jesus isn’t about lofty visions and spiritual encounters. I am all for those if He is initiating them, not so much if we are trying to drum them up. However, my point was that those experiences are not the norm for most of us, nor does scripture suggest they should be.
The same is true of the gathering and assembling of the ekklesia. It has been well said that it is easy to miss the spiritual looking for the supernatural and my whole series on the ‘church’ lies in the shadow of that danger. However, I press on. I believe that when we are found faithful and walk in love in the midst of ‘this present darkness’ our behaviour is a witness to heaven and the demonic spiritual realm of the power of His love to transform us. Principalities and powers influence the spiritual atmosphere over areas. The more we walk with and are found in Jesus in spite of this oppression and opposition the more we weaken and break their hold and influence over areas. We are not called to bring heaven to earth as much as to walk in a depth of koinonia that demonstrates heaven on earth.
I recently read some material from Dutch Sheets where he shared how believers were praying and not experiencing anything in the moment. No great visions or prophetic words, simply being found faithful, and later learning of the important impact of their prayers. My friend Wouter shared how during WWII a small community in Germany prayed fervently for protection from the Nazi regime. They came through the war without losing their sons and were protected from the Nazi scourge in their country. We have no stories of them seeing angels or other supernatural signs. What they experienced was spiritual reality. The commonality in these stories is that a group of people were engaged in intercession together. They were united for a common purpose. They had gathered, assembled and taken up a task together.
Now, some reflections on a church service compared to a gathering and assembling of the ekklesia. I think the main difference lies in intent and focus. The church and the ekklesia may both gather on a Sunday to worship, pray and hear a message. The church and ekklesia may both proclaim salvation, yet those who recognize that they are the ekklesia also seek to shift the spiritual atmosphere over cities and regions. They engage in this because their responsibility, that they are called out, gathered to Jesus to accomplish His purposes in a region and that they carry the necessary spiritual authority to accomplish the task Jesus has assigned to them.
My real goal here is to help us as the church to see that we are actually called to be the ekklesia. A gathering of people called to assemble and exercise spiritual authority over an area to extend and demonstrate His kingdom. The gathering piece is important, the assembling is critical. I have used this illustration before. If you purchase a product from Ikea or a similar store when you bring it home you need to assemble the pieces, each in the spot it where it was designed to fit. The same is true of Jesus body. We all have a function, and while gathering believers together in a room is a good start, the important step is identifying and releasing said believers into their calling and purpose, both individually and corporately.
As an individual I know my place in the larger body and like the rest of the ekklesia one thing I am called to is daily prayer, intercession if you will. At times I doubt the efficacy of my own prayers and my ability to hear His voice, even though I have written a practical manual on hearing His voice. Perhaps I need to read it! Yet at the same time I am faithful to read the scriptures, pray and engage with His presence of behalf of others. Out of this I find that when I respond to His promptings to call or email someone because I sense He has placed them on my heart I invariably hit the mark. This is the fruit of simply seeking to be found faithful to this aspect of my calling. I pray you embrace the same goal.
In my next post I will look at some final areas. What a gathering might look like based on what Paul taught to the Corinthians, the focus of Paul’s prayers in some of his letters and the role and importance of church discipline in fulfilling our mandate.