Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge:
What’s an inverted ‘T’ you ask. Simple…a viewpoint of active genuine Christianity!
Recently we’ve been challenging churches to be relational not religious. We’ve caught listeners’ attention by saying, ‘Image the letter T, then invert it – – but ensure the bottom bar extends widely both right and left.
Dead religion – the road to ‘No Town’!
Some churches are all about rules and regulations…there is a decided absence of life and charisma at the pulpit that goes through the congregation. Dead religion has always been dead end road whereas recognised relational experiences produce life, excitement and dedication in any church.
Here’s where the inverted T comes in.
The upright of this inversion represents Christians relationally connecting with God in worship and adoration. The bottom crossbar represents us willing, confidently and relationally reaching out ministering to both church brethren – inside the church – and on the other hand also to the unsaved – outside the church – out there in the marketplace.
This is like a New Testament reflection of the Leviticus 9:23 priests’ ministry. They (ministers) went into the tabernacle (think church) to minister to the Lord themselves and to minister on behalf of the people. Then they went outside to minister the Lord to the people. This was, in fact, a second blessing as verse 22 says that they’d had already blessed the people.
‘Second blessing’ is understood by charismatics as the touch and presence of the Holy Spirit. In using our sanctified imagination, we can envisage the ministers being renewed as they honoured God in worship and then, filled afresh, passing this blessing on to needy people.
Church – hospital only?
Take it further…sadly many Christians look on church as a hospital where they can come with their needs every Sunday and repeatedly get prayer, help and personal blessings. Sadly they forget about going out there into the marketplace, the mission field full of needy people spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. And to minister to those who don’t know Jesus or anything about church and aren’t saved.
Now of course church is a sort of hospital – a spiritual one! Every Christian has the right to expect to be blessed and encouraged by their minister through Bible-based sermons, a caring heart that’s obvious to all, prayer and the gifts of the Spirit (genuine prophecy, healings and miracles).
But we mustn’t come into the sanctuary with a ‘Gimme, gimme’ and ‘me, me’ attitude! We heard recently from a concerned and disillusioned Christian that the name of Jesus wasn’t being mentioned during worship in his church …choruses were all about self! And when he approached his pastor about this neglect, the church leader shrugged and commented indifferently, ‘So what?’
In truth, churches that don’t honour Jesus in meaningful worship lose something precious!
Mainline Christians would still consider Psalms as ‘the psalter’ of worship and prayer. In the 1930s when Hitler’s Nazi regime was growing strong and an idolatrous German church was rising, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (left) solemnly warned, ‘When the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church. With its recovery will come unsuspected power.’
Even hospital churches must also consider themselves as hosts of Jesus. ‘Hosting’ has several meanings…one is to ‘provide facilities and resources for a function or event.’
Churches providing the perfect platform for true worship can expect Jesus to respond with supernatural events that occur as a regular result. The ‘unsuspected power’ that Bonhoeffer envisaged will become ‘expected power’ and a weekly reality!
Our part in hosting Jesus? We must joyfully but reverently worship him and from out of reverence and commitment to be willingly prepared to minister in the Spirit to the needy in our churches – and outside.
This is an essential part of growing personally … being involved and not expecting that pastors do everything themselves!
Competently expanding the kingdom
That’s one side of the bottom of the inverted T- blessing ‘insiders.’ The other is reaching ‘the outsiders.’
Most importantly, we should be expanding the kingdom by carrying God’s blessings outside the church to the spiritually needy out there – those lost for eternity without Christ!
The great commission means great opportunities – if we recognise and take them. Jesus himself set the example by touching lives outside of the local worship centre. Read, for example, the John 4 incident of the woman at the well.
One church still carries above its old exit this important logo: ‘You are new entering the mission field.’ What a challenge… reaching out. Yet even some church leaders feel hesitant about hitting the marketplace of opportunity. We heard one saying, ‘Oh we have to be so careful. People out there don’t understand church and what we are and do.’ It was good to hear him later admit that he had realised pride was holding him back from being bold in reaching out and witnessing Jesus.
In truth there’s no need to be nervous when you understand what you have in Jesus and the power of the Spirit within. As a Christian you are a minister and a well enabled one – Paul declared in 2 Corinthians 3:6, ‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ (Emphasis ours).
In verses 2 and 3, Paul confirms that we are a living letter endorsed by Jesus himself and the Holy Spirit – ‘Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it – not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit’ (Message Bible).
Scheduled to minister the first Sunday this new year, I (Robert) felt compelled to park in the underground car park. Only one spot was available and I noticed a happy but intoxicated ‘street dweller’ lying there. I distinctly heard the Spirit saying ‘Go talk to him.’
I did so, not nervously or religiously, but relationally…not nervously but very aware of the Spirit’s anointing within and that this was no mere chance meeting. The lonely guy jumped to his feet and actually greeted me. Soon we were hugging as I openly accepted him. Quietly but meaningfully I shared Jesus … he wept on my shoulder as he accepted Christ as God’s Son as his Saviour and new friend. This, incidentally, was not that false religious ‘Just give your heart to Jesus’ thing but a genuine 180 degrees turnaround – what true conversion is really all about.
To cut the story short, he willingly came to church, sat close to the front and listened attentively to my message (that the Spirit has instantly changed to sharing about the inverted T). What a delight it was to see my new brother in Christ be the first to respond to the sermon and to hug him again in the midst of more tears. I now trust the Holy Spirit to keep him sound and secure and to begin using him.
Still wondering about God’s will for you in 2015? How about…
- Confidently assisting church leaders strengthen your local church?
- Letting the Spirit take you into your localised mission field?
- Discovering opportunities to follow Jesus’ recorded examples?
- Helping people practically, even daring to pray for those with physical and other needs… without Bible bashing!
- Giving the unchurched something to think further about that’ll get them accepting us and church life
- Linking strongly to God, then meaningfully linking to people.
The end goal is helping all discover Jesus as friend in every sense!
This month’s links: Ask Dr Jim – The True Focus of Worship, Focus – What Kind of Person do you Want to Become This Year?, Opinion – Approaching the Big Taboo: Mental Illness
I agree relationships are a ‘core’ element of life. This is something Robert and Maureen not only ‘preach’ but ‘practice’ – as the example in this article will show – and as I and others can give personal testimony in reflecting on their relationship with us in the Lord.