God has certainly been gracious to Christ Community Church. Hundreds of people have given sacrificially of their time, talents, and treasure to complete our new Worship Center. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We don’t deserve God’s blessing and we certainly haven’t earned it, yet by God’s grace we now have this new space in which to gather.
I recently heard about some differing perspectives regarding our spiritual preparedness to take possession of our new space – with us being in a season of transition as well as grappling with some dysfunctions that have surfaced over the last couple of years. Certainly we are implored multiple times throughout the New Testament to be in right relationship with one another (see Romans 12:18) and we are also told that our battle is not against “flesh and blood” but against demonic forces that seek to disrupt the relational unity of God’s people (see Ephesians 6:10-20).
While we can all appreciate the blessing of having a “sanctuary” to invite people into as well as engaging in worship through singing, preaching, practicing the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and presenting our tithes and offerings to God, the CCC facility when all is said and done, is just a building — a “sheep shed” if you will. The work of Jesus on the cross transfers the “temple” to a Church – and the Church is us! A very direct New Testament passage is found in 1 Corinthians 3:16:
“Do you [plural] not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
We are now God’s holy temple, built on the foundation of Jesus Christ’s work, and filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
I want everyone to know that my experience at CCC (so far) is that people have been truly humble, appreciative, and encouraging. And I have the privilege of participating with the former elders (those who are still attending) in doing the “work” of biblical reconciliation as they move toward restoration of relationships (not necessarily restoration to their former roles but to one another.) I am VERY encouraged by the overall humility and learning posture I have found. The same is true of our Transition Team, our hardworking Pastors and Staff, and many of the Ministry Leaders that I have had a chance to get to know.
Having said all that, spiritual warfare is very real and we need to be continually vigilant (click here for some basic instruction). My own theology of spiritual warfare is fairly simple and direct. Think of being in a dark room. We can either attempt to pray-out (or shout-out) the darkness, OR, we can simply reach over and flip on the light switch. Light will always expose and chase away darkness. The essence of effective spiritual warfare is continually inviting Jesus into our lives, relationships, families, places of employment, and church building. As we do this (by grace through faith) all darkness must flee. As we worship in gratitude, sometimes through quiet reflection and sometimes with wild celebration, all darkness will (and must) flee. It should also be noted that spiritual (or demonic) oppression can be very real — and it needs to be identified and addressed through specific prayer (and worship). Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to teach on this in the coming months (click here for some basic instruction).
Paul models good gospel cleansing in Romans 7:24-25:
“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”
When Paul confesses his sin and sin nature and surrenders afresh to God the grace of God comes afresh and does IN him and THROUGH him what he cannot do on his own (a beautiful picture of the gospel). Paul then launches into Romans 8, which is about life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Confession and surrender will usher us into life in the power of the Holy Spirit – a place where willpower simply cannot take us.
The last thing I’ll mention is that as we look around the New Testament we see that all churches go through seasons of grappling with dysfunctions that surface — as do all individuals and families. The Corinthians were wild and lascivious, the Galatians were stuck in legalism, in Ephesus the gospel was being drowned out by false teachers, Philemon was written to un-reconciled believers, and 1 John was written to a church that had just undergone a church split — and these churches were started by the Apostles!
We will always have things to work on at CCC. Just like Revelation 2-3 if Jesus addressed CCC He would speak both affirmation and rebuke. Let’s keep listening for both and continue to pray and intercede for Jesus to build His church in and through us in the days ahead! As I have said, I believe the best days are ahead for CCC and that it’s a great time to be a part because everyone who wants to help shape the future (prayerfully and civilly) will have an opportunity to do so.
By God’s grace, and only by God’s grace, it’s time to celebrate!!