House churches can be yet another representation of man’s church or they can build people and multiply the Kingdom of God. Frank Viola writes, ‘The Antioch Model can be described thusly: An apostle walks bare-handed into a city to preach Jesus Christ. He does not preach the “Four Spiritual Laws,” the “Romans road,” the “plan of salvation,” or Christian theology. Nor does he preach himself (2 Cor. 4:5). Instead, he preaches a Person: Jesus Christ.’
It’s amazing how convinced some are that the preaching of themselves is Jesus. But Viola defines the difference between what might be called church for its own sake and the kingdom of God.
Again he writes, ‘I’ve often said that an organic expression of the church is one in which the members are learning to live by Divine LIFE together. They are learning how to live by the indwelling Christ.’
Christ your life. Christ is your life – Viola focuses here on what should be obvious to all. The life of any ‘real church’ is the life of Jesus in us. The life of the church Jesus builds is Christ’s life as the community of the Kingdom.
As I have said before, Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. If we are to receive His life He is to be worshiped. He’s not an adjunct to ‘us doing community.’ Neither is He present because people are being friendly to one another. God is good but good is not God. Jesus is God. Jesus is not the reification of people gathered in piety. He is present in the Spirit when He is worshiped and affirmed as Lord.
Jesus is alpha and omega. Jesus is community. He is the church. The Jesus in and among us must be the real Jesus – the One who mends families, turns broken lives around, who heals sick people. The one who speaks to His Friends – those who have learned to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
This is the Jesus we embrace. The One who joins earth to heaven to reproduce in us – not a kingdom of talk – but one of power and resurrection life. An excellent account of this dynamic, miraculous life that is the inheritance of all can be found in James Rutz’ book Megashift.
Viola observes that a genuine organic church is based on ‘The centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering.’ If this has escaped us we would do well to declare Col 1.1-23 at every gathering until it becomes part of us.
Jesus is either Lord of all or He is small. When Jesus is small, we are small. Who needs a version churchism where we churn in our lounge rooms like clothes in a front-loading washing machine. Jesus is not present just because we are. Not with His manifest Presence. Jesus is found in life-giving power where He is worshiped and where the infilling and anointing of the Holy Spirit is valued and deployed through faith and declaration.
The Father planted Jesus and Jesus planted Himself in His disciples. At Pentecost Jesus planted Himself in all believers. It is the living Christ, not an icon or a theological construct who represents real love and the authority of the Kingdom of Heaven. With Jesus as our life, heaven is joined to earth and the infinite life of Jesus flows through His people to bring about an expanding genesis – a new creation.
Churches that are planted for the sake of planting churches can reproduce church. Only Jesus produces sons. Should we plant Jesus we will harvest sons and daughters for God. Sons and daughters who multiply more sons and with them the love and authority of heaven in the earth.
‘Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way’ Eph 1.21-23 NIV.
‘And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself’ Eph 4.10 NLT.