How does the Holy Spirit engage with us?
How do we find our purpose?
And what about our functions? God has a purpose for all of us, as long as we’re open to His leadings. In Bible times, many characters were given names to describe their function. Jesus was Yeshua, Hebrew for “saviour”. Abraham was “Father of many”. Israel is “Struggles with God”. This practice continued in other cultures. A “Smith” used to be a tradesman, a “Cooper” was a barrel maker. A “Jones” kept himself one step ahead of his neighbour (apparently)!
This ought to be massively encouraging to us. It tells us that we are not just who we are (our form), but all Christians have a purpose (our function) in God’s plan.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)
If you feel that you don’t have a purpose, then it’s simply that you haven’t discovered it yet, so why not ask God to reveal it to you?
The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5)
Here’s the ultimate example, regarding our very identity. What do we call ourselves? If we call ourselves a “Christian” then we must acknowledge that the term has lost its original meaning and has been saddled with the baggage from 2,000 years of “Christendom”. It meant something in biblical times, as it identified the person as a follower of Christ. Nowadays it is more likely to identify you as someone who goes to Church, doesn’t have sex until marriage (usually) and complains a lot. Wouldn’t it be more apt to describe ourselves through the function of being a Christian, as one who strives to become more like Jesus? A bit of a mouthful, admittedly, but it’s a perfect description of what we should be all about. Perhaps Jesus-copier may be as close as we can get?
Similarly with the Church, a designation given to the body of believers in Antioch. Its literal meaning in Greek is “called out ones” from the word, Ekklesia. Today this is all lost as Church has become identified as a form (a physical building), rather than a function (the called out ones who meet in that building and other places). It is interesting that the original Church called themselves The Way, a wonderful depiction of their function, it being a principle from the Hebrew Scriptures that defined how God’s people are meant to behave.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1:6)
But there’s another level to consider. After all, the Church is no ordinary group of people:
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-8)
So our function is what defines us as Christians, in accordance to the gifts we have been given, all working together within the mystical, corporate Body of Christ.
Then there are our own bodies, our own forms. We were built for a purpose, to serve Him. That is our true worship as we now see:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1 -2)
God has a function for all of us, working with Him in His Kingdom, rather than in the world. It is our job to recognise this fact and make the transition between the two Kingdoms, through the renewal of our minds. It is my belief that central to this, in our own day, is the need to make the transition from Greek thinking to Hebraic thinking - thinking differently.
There are many other examples of form and function and, as we shall see, they take us through the whole breadth of our Christian experience. As I said, it really is all about thinking differently and there’s a real adventure here to be had …
This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp