ITP – RELATIONAL, NOT RELIGIOUS, CHRISTIANITY

(May 9, 2018) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a reminder…

It’s May, our fifth month already!

Interestingly, before the Jewish Exile to Babylon in 586 BC, this time of the year roughly corresponded to the month the Israelites called Ziv – meaning ‘brightness’ or ‘radiance.’ Determined Christians could make this a great month to radiate the reality of our relationship with Jesus!

Of course we’re meant to splendidly radiate Jesus every month, not just May – in both our churches and our locales; exhibiting biblical truths and principles. After all, Jesus, who was light in a dark world (John 1:4-5), declared that his followers are meant to be the radiance of God’s glory – ‘You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept’ (Message 5:14Mge).

What we explain below about relational Christianity is really a very simple biblical truth and principle – and the joyful response by troubled Christians we shared it with recently was one of ‘Ah ha! That’s what it’s all about! We get it.’

ITP
We call real relational Christianity ITP – the Inverted T Principle – and it’s all about being relational not religious!

What’s the inverted ‘T’ principle? you ask. Well… image a large upper case letter T, then invert it – now image the upright as a centre piece that is connecting with two bottom bars that extend widely both right and left.

Now what you have is a big …

Oops!  Just couldn’t get an illustration with longer bottom bars but… think outside of the box:

  • Think of the church, of Christians, as being at the bottom centre where the upright connects the two sidebars. Now consider the –
  • Upright as our connection (relationship) with God.
  • Right bar as our connection with our church family and friends who know Jesus (relationships).
  • Left bar as those outside of Christ whom we need to connect with (relationally not religiously)!

The reality is that we should always be readily, willingly reaching…

  • Firstly
    Reaching up… to God, our loving Father and great provider… in praise, adoration and thanksgiving – and receiving from him direction, fresh spiritual infillings and other blessings that are ours because of all that Jesus has done for us. And not just at Sunday services only!
  • Secondly
    Reaching ‘in’…
    to our Christian brothers and sisters, acting promptly to bless – translucently caringly, praying, and led by the Spirit as we do so. And not just only at Sunday services either!
  • Thirdly
    Reaching out… to those outside of our church circle – ‘out there’ in the marketplace of life and not knowing Jesus as Saviour and friend! Listening interestedly and caringly, testifying of our relationship with God, openingly sharing what Christ means to us and boldly praying, even prophesying.

 

Hey, that’s definitely not at Sunday services only! And it’s not some passive dead religion! If we know God it’s truly meaningful active relational Christianity.

Aspects one and two above are great… but let’s look at the all-important third one.

Dead religion is the road to ‘No Town’!
Some churches (and, sadly, some Christians!) are all about rules and regulations… even at the pulpit there is a decided absence of life, genuine anointing and reality that then runs through the congregation.

Legalistic religion has always been a dead-end road whereas recognisable relational experiences produce life, excitement and dedication in any church along with a desire to reach out and bless others both in the house and outside!

And that’s where the inverted T principle above comes in!

It’s like a New Testament reflection of the Leviticus 9:23 priests’ ministry. They (think ministers, remembering we are ministerssee 2 Corinthians 3:6 further down) 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.

Use your ‘sanctified imagination’ – ministers with servant hearts being renewed as they honoured God in worship and then, filled afresh, going out to pass this blessing on to needy people!

Church is not a hospital only
Take it further… some Christians look on church as a spiritual hospital where they can come with their needs on Sunday, worship God as best they can in their circumstances – and get understanding, prayer and personal blessings not only from the pastorate but from fellow Christians.

Now it’s great that Christians can get such assistance at church – but many forget to pass it on; going into the marketplace, the ‘local Jerusalem’ of Acts 1:8… the local mission field of people with needs spiritual, physical, emotional and mental. And to minister to those who don’t know Jesus or anything about church and aren’t saved.

Now the 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 (especially genuine prophecy, healings and miracles).

But we mustn’t come into the sanctuary with a ‘Gimme, gimme’ and ‘me, me’ attitude!

We need to think outside the box, of others in need beyond the church… of receiving not only for ourselves but, being refreshed and strengthened, seek to bless others.

Hosting Jesus
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.’

‘Psalter’ is an old-fashioned word to many but here’s a thought… 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 solemnly warned, ‘When the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church. With its recovery will come unsuspected power.’

Concerned Christians feel that some churches these days are adulterous in their worldly-type presentations, hype, programs, demands for money… and splashy worship. That something is missing and we can’t really expect as we should be able to.

Churches providing anointed, prayed up worship can expect Jesus to respond with supernatural events occurring as a regular result (included a prepared platform for a salvation altar call by the preacher). The ‘unsuspected power’ that Bonhoeffer envisaged will become ‘expected power’ and a weekly reality!

Our part in hosting Jesus? We’re at the centre of the inverted T… joyfully and reverently worshipping our Lord. And from out of reverence we’re willingly to minister in the Spirit to firstly the church family (‘right bar’) – and then to those outside the church (‘left bar’).

This is an essential part of personally growing spiritually… being involved and not expecting the pastorate to do everything themselves!  Knowing that with the Spirit’s assistance we’re all talented Christians – whether five, two or one – and not one talent should be wasted!

Competently expanding the kingdom
Get the picture? Great… now let’s  really concentrate on that left bar of reaching outsiders.

Somehow, in some way, very Christian 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 not only reaching foreign lands but to recognise and take local opportunities. Jesus himself set the example by touching lives outside of the local worship centre. He was a marketplace witness! Read, for example, the John 4 incident of the woman at the well.

One church used to have this important logo over its exit: ‘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.’

In truth there’s no need to be nervous when you understand what you have 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… the Spirit gives life.’ NIRV says: ‘He has given us the power to serve…’

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).

Personal examples
Scheduled to minister in a particular church, I (Robert) felt led to sit in the undercover car park. Only one spot was available – there I noticed a happy but intoxicated ‘street dweller’ lying there.

I distinctly heard the Spirit saying ‘Go talk to him’ I did so, not religiously, but relational… 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 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 had instantly changed to sharing about the inverted T principle). What a delight it was to see my new brother in Christ be the first to respond to the altar call and to hug him again in the midst of more tears by both of us. I trusted the Holy Spirit to keep him sound and secure and to begin using him.

Maureen too can share similar experiences where she has been led by the Spirit to prophetically speak encouragements to strangers on matters they knew she couldn’t possibly know about. When they enquired ‘Are you psychic?’ how easy it was to then share Jesus with those needy souls.

The road ahead
Wondering about God’s will for you the rest of this year? How about…

  • Confidently assisting church leaders strengthen your local church?
  • Letting the Spirit take you in your localised mission field?
  • Discovering opportunities to follow Jesus’ recorded examples?
  • Helping people realistically and practically, not religiously Bible bashing!
  • Even daring to pray for those with physical and other needs?
  • Giving the unchurched something to think further about that’ll have them accepting us and church life.
  • Linking strongly to God (that upright centre), then meaningfully linking to people (both bars!).

The end goal is helping all discover Jesus as friend in every sense!

Let’s all step forward, reach out radiantly and help this month (and every other month)!

____________________________________________________________________________________________
(Scripture and other emphases ours). Links:  Peter Fitzgerald’s article / Ben Godwin’s article

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