Sunday 13 October 2019 – Paul O’Neill
Matt. 5:14, 16; 1 Peter 2:9 AMP; Ex. 33:13-14; Matt. 7:13; Acts 1:8 NKJV; 1 John 3 NKJV; Ps. 119:163 NLT; (Matt. 5:3-11)
What does a beautiful church look like? A beautiful church knows who their Father is. A beautiful church understands that they are loved by their Father. A beautiful church is a people that follow the ways of Christ. A beautiful church comes under the control of the Holy Spirit.
You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden (Matt. 5:14). And verse 16 says: let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Some of these good works are not just good deeds, but good works are when you understand that you loved. The other good works are walking in the ways of Christ. Jesus did not say; that you are the light of the church; He said you are the light of the world. There is a big difference. It is about time that the doors and the walls of the church fly open so that we understand that we are not the light of the church, we are the light of the world! When the world sees us, they will see a beautiful Church and they will come running because of our good works and because we understand God’s love for us.
In what mindset do we approach church? Firstly, church is not the building we gather in, church is the people, us, the ecclesia, the called-out ones, the holy people. We are the Church. So how do we approach one another, the gathering and our activities? We have to approach it in the context of 1 Peter 2:9 (AMPL): But you are God’s chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a[special] people for God’s own possession. These four things give us identity immediately. This is who we are. We need to come to one another with these four identities in place.
People have been approaching church like it is a restaurant, theatre or movie house, and growth has been stunted/blocked when we approach church (not just Sundays) in this way. We stunt our growth when we come with that attitude and that thought pattern. At a restaurant you can sit down and place your order, and if the food was not good, we take our business elsewhere. When we come with this approach we automatically partner with that spirit of judgment and accusation and normally leave feeling offended. Jesus never called us to approach church in this manner, because we will always be disappointed. This is what modern-day church is, we approach it with an attitude of: “do something, make me feel better, I want my shot.” If it was not good enough, we go somewhere else. You stunt your growth because you partner with judgment and criticism, and then apathy creeps in. Those are spirits that can take over our Christian walk and all of a sudden, I am lost, and I start hopping between restaurants/churches.
The way that we approach church has to be this one thing called family. Only then do we grow, and we grow because in a family we take responsibility. When I go to a restaurant/theatre there is no responsibility. Responsibility makes us grow. Church is not a “bless me” club, it is not a place for entertainment; this is a family. Only when we approach it in this way does it become beautiful. We should be saying, “How can I serve you?” that is the fruit of family. When the world sees the light of the world, they should be seeing that framework. A beautiful church is a people who follow the ways of Christ. There is the wide road that leads to destruction, and the narrow road that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:13 NLT). What are these ways? The way of Christ is like a one-lane highway. We sometimes make the ways to Christ wider than what God has made them to make it easier for people to enter.
Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now, Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people (Ex. 33:13 NKJV). Moses wanted to know God’s ways, how He thinks and acts. Moses believed if he could understand this, he would know who God is. God then answers: My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest (Ex. 33:14 NKJV). You can buy almost any pill on the market, happy pills, sleeping pills, etc. but you cannot buy a pill for peace. Moses asks, “God to show him His ways,” and David comes in Psalms 119 and takes it a step further saying: ..but I love your instructions (ways) (Psa. 119:163 NLT). When we follow the Lord’s ways we find freedom and joy. We should be the happiest people on earth; God is serious about our joy. One of the first fruits of the spirit is joy, love, peace, etc. We tend to skip joy, but there is something about joy that God wants to bring forth in His house so that the world will notice it. Joy does not come from our circumstances. Joy is an eternal realm, a Holy Ghost realm, joy comes from the Holy Ghost, not from material things. Even if our world does not look the way we want it to look, we can still have joy. That is when the world will say, “What have you got?” The ways of Christ bring joy. One of the greatest blessings God can give us is joy. We need joy in the middle of our battles not at the end of our battles. When we approach church as family, not as a restaurant, all of a sudden joy starts brewing up inside of us.
Another way of Christ is to walk in obedience, and obedience is not from the law, but obedience is from my position of being a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Obedience breeds from a place of holiness. It comes from knowing that I am these four things, (God’s chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession), I do not want to be messing around in the “mud”. One of the greatest things we have to realize is our identity. When we realize we are sons of God, we live our identity, and out of our identity we therefore obey the ways of Christ. We serve not to get to a place of identity, but we serve from a place of identity. The modern-day church has lost its art to obey. When He is Lord, you have to say “yes”.
A beautiful church is a people who come under the control of the Holy Spirit; they carry a fire of God inside of them. Adam and Eve had everything they needed in the garden, and they only had to take on two positions: yieldedness and obedience. Everything we need in life is in a position of a yielded, surrendered and obedient heart. In that place, the Holy Spirit comes and rests, in a beautiful church that knows how to surrender. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me… (Acts 1:8 NKJV). If we look at the baptism of the Holy Spirit, one of the evidences is speaking in tongues. One of the first things that happens when you get baptized in the Holy Spirit is you will have power. We have a lot of Christians flapping their “tongues” with no power and no witness. It makes me question the baptism because Jesus said “you shall receive power”. I believe it is power to cast out demons, to resist temptation, power to have a big YES to the Lord, and a big NO to the world. It is an internal power so that I do not react, but that I respond. It is an internal power – but also a power for healings, signs, wonders and miracles. A beautiful church is a church that moves in power.
The Bible says: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3 NKJV). A beautiful church knows they are loved, they are not running after the pleasures of this world, they are not trying to improve their lives, because they know they are loved by their Father.
The most important thing is to remember. We forget the Father’s love. We become distracted. We start acting as orphans in this world and compare ourselves to the world. Do not ever compare yourself to the lost, because they have a different father. When we start comparing ourselves to the world, we start acting like orphans; therefore, we are no longer the light of the world. A beautiful church are ones who know who they are. They become witnesses wherever they go, in the airports, in the restaurants, we are proud that we love Jesus. This is who we are, a beautiful church understands, they comprehend, “My Father loves me”.