“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
During these days of sheltering in place, my deck has become a very desirable destination. A bounty of meals has been eaten there and hours passed just listening to birds and gazing into the sky. Many nights it has been a sanctuary of worship and it has recently been named “Deck Church.” My two neighbors and I gather there often (practicing social distancing) and encouraging one another in the Lord. We share scripture, testify of what God is doing in our hearts, and we pray for each other’s families, our churches and our world. Sitting here typing, tears form as I look out at this new church. The church without walls. I long for it to last forever.
Church? Yes, we know it is not the building, but church is where two or more are gathered in His name.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:29
In our heads we have known that church is not the building, but somewhere along the way, it became about the building. The place and specific time that we gather to “have church.” God recently shoved us out of the doors into our homes and many are testifying that the church of Jesus Christ is growing and abounding. The church is becoming bolder as we scramble to learn new ways to stay connected, reconnect and reach more for the Kingdom of God.
My husband, dog and I have had precious gatherings in front of the big screen with our online church family and other churches around the country. We have walked our streets and sowed seeds of prayer. We have extended our hand to help others. We have prayed for the world with greater passion than ever before. The church is expanding as we are being pushed out and into greater motion. The “Deck Church” girls recently expressed no desire to return to the way we were. Church as usual. Back to normal life, whatever normal was. In unison we agreed we want no part of it. We want God to continue His good work in the church without walls. In the middle of this conversation I had the memory of the childhood game we played in the front yard. You may remember it also.
Right there on the front steps the boss sat while the other neighborhood kids formed a straight line awaiting the orders. The winner was the one who made it to the steps first, but you could only move when Simon said. If you moved without the “Simon says” command, you had to return to the start line.
Simon says, “Take one step forward.” Simon says, “Take one hop on one foot.” “Pat your head.” Simon says, “Pat your head.” Simon says, “Take one giant step forward.”
There it was, “Simon says, take one giant step forward.”
I felt in my spirit that God was saying, ”Church, take one giant step forward.” Remember, not the building, but you and me. Martha, take one giant step forward. As we live in the latter days, we must take a giant step forward to the heart of God. We must carry His heart above all else. We must stand ready and alert to follow His early command found in Matthew 6:33. It is the call to move forward in Him.
“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
We are Kingdom people, living in the Kingdom of God, ruled by King Jesus.
No walls. No performance. No competition. No people pleasing. No watering down. No division. No hierarchy.
In this kingdom love reigns. Grace flows freely. Forgiveness is always extended. It is an upside down kingdom.
Church, take one giant step forward!
This step forward is actually downward. That’s right! Down low in humility and repentance before our King. Soon, I pray, there will be a pause in our scurry to figure out how to keep “doing church” and the message of repentance will come. It will begin with the church. We will bow in humility without the music, lights, sound, and flashy props and we will be undone in the presence of Holy God.
Only as WE, the church repent, will His kingdom move forward.
Then, I believe the church will take one giant step forward and revival will sweep the land far greater than any virus.
Lord, prepare your people for this giant move of your spirit. We don’t want to be lined up in performance playing childish games. Set our hearts on fire for a great move of God. Show your people the Kingdom. Turn our hearts away from foolish things, wasteful living and busy pursuits. Please give us a burning desire for You and Your Kingdom.