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I didn’t hear JFK’s, “Man on the Moon” speech, or if I did, I don’t remember. I was just five years old.
But I do remember when he was shot. They say you can always remember where you were when you heard the news, that’s true for me. I was sitting on the arm of my Dad’s chair when the newsflash came through.
By the time I was ten and eleven years of age, JFK’s speech was being fulfilled. The Apollo space program captured not only my attention, but also my imagination and my affections. Today, most everything I talk about is somehow linked to and connected with, the idea of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely to earth.
I believe the power of Kennedy’s speech lay in the fact that he set a clear goal. Kennedy’s speech was a dream that became reality.
One Sunday morning, about six years ago, I sent a text message to some Christian friends saying something like, “with JFK’s man on the moon speech in mind, perhaps we should make it our goal that before the end of this decade, every family is ready for the return of Christ”.
One of my friends text me back saying that their Pastor had preached that very morning using the same speech as a basis for his message. Is it possible the Lord had something in mind for His body?
Every now and then, particularly when I am feeling a bit “downcast”, a bit “overwhelmed” by everything that is happening in the earth today, I encourage myself by listening to JFK’s Man on the Moon speech. But today, however, I don’t think about families being ready for the return of Christ, I think about the Lord’s family being ready to do His will. I think about seeing a fully functioning ekklesia.
When Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, he must have seen a sight that was perhaps a bit overwhelming; dozens of families living in the ruins of what was once a great city. Not only that, he saw that the stones had been burned with fire and the gates smashed from their hinges. The Babylonians had done a great deal of damage.
So it is today with those of us out of the church system. We have returned to Christ only to find that our spiritual lives are in ruins and there is a complete lack of Christ’s wisdom, power and authority amongst us as a whole.
While we were in the church system we could not see this, we were blind to it. But now we are free from the system, the Lord has opened our eyes to see clearly. The body of Christ has suffered terribly at the hands of the church system.
Our ability to take the Lord at His word, our ability to understand, to comprehend, His plans and purposes, our willingness to cooperate with Him are all marred, muddied, confused.
Coming out of the church system is one thing, getting the church system out of us in another.
The Lord is teaching us what it means to relate to Him on His terms, not those of the church system. He is teaching us what it really means to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. He is putting us into circumstances and situations that are beyond our natural abilities so we learn from Him. His thoughts, His ways.
He is restoring to His people those things that were eaten by the devouring armies of church system locusts; how to relate to God, how to relate to other members of the body, how to relate to unbelievers.
What I see in the accounts of the captives returning to Jerusalem is a work of restoration:
• Altar = relating to God through faith in Christ alone. Offering ourselves daily as a living sacrifice.
• Temple = a house for the Holy Spirit, being set apart for the Lord (e.g. the idols of church system buildings, meetings and services are destroyed).
• Walls = lives of the saints are built to be strong in the Lord again. Walls define a boundary, “city limits” within which to stay safe from bandits and wild animals.
• Gates = seats of spiritual wisdom, power and authority. The place where the elders conduct business, that is, where a fully functioning ekklesia is working, operating effectively.
I once heard it said that if you aim to fly from London to Sydney and are just one degree off course after take-off, then you will miss Australia altogether.
Likewise, when the church system began it was just slightly off-course, now it is a million miles from the Lord.
From the very beginning, the church system has failed to build according to God’s design. Now, today, the Lord’s ekklesia must learn to build again, not according to the teachings of the church system, but according to the plans and purposes of God for us in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
For a couple of years I owned a bicycle repair shop. What I soon learned was to be effective, I had to have the correct tools, which I classified into three main groups. “All purpose tools” included things that most mechanics use; wrenches, screwdrivers and so on. “Special Tools” were those that the bicycle manufacturers use; bottom-bracket tool, chain rivet tool, cone spanners, tyre levers. The final category was, “power tools”. One of the most helpful for me was an air compressor. I could inflate tyres all day and never get tired (excuse the pun).
So it is with the Lord. The fruit of His spirit is what we put to work every day, the fruit of the spirit is available to all members of the body all the time. Next we have the ministry gifts of Christ and the functioning gifts of the Father, these are given according to the will and purpose of God. Then there are the gifts of the Spirit, the “power tools” so to speak, such as a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom.
The gifts and abilities the Lord has for His people are not for a position or office in the body, they are not for our power or prestige. They are for the building up of the whole so that we all come to maturity, that is, we can not only discern the difference between true and false, but we can also understand and articulate those differences. This is why we need to see a fully functioning ekklesia.
What has this to do with Kennedy’s speech?
The Lord willing, before the end of this decade, we will see a fully functioning ekklesia at work and operating effectively in every major city across North America.
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