(16)For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling in them and walk in them… (17)Therefore go out from their midst…touch no unclean thing, then I will welcome you…” (7:1)”Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit…” (2 Cor. 6:16-17, 7:1 ESV)
“But you are…a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:9)
The word “church” is an interesting one. It’s a poor translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which is a combination of the words ek meaning “out from,” and kaleo, meaning “to call.” It essentially means “a special, called-out assembly of people.” Christians assume and teach that this refers to being those called out of the world. Therefore, to varying degrees we separate from the world (or think we do) by shunning bad movies and TV, drugs, casinos, extra-marital sex, blatant lies, etc. Some take extreme measures such as living in a convent or monastery. Is this improvement of behavior all that God wants from His people?
What if the “calling out” of the ekklesia is deeper than merely shifting away from the world’s ways and values? What if we are called out in order to be called to? If this is so, shouldn’t that change our focus tremendously? To focus on avoiding something (such as the world) is still focusing on that thing. What was it that Jesus frequently warned of, railed against, pronounced doom upon, and generally despised? It wasn’t the evils of the world, it was the influence of religion among God’s people; the outwardly good, self-righteous, self-preserving, tradition-following, prideful, blind religious system of Israel, along with its leaders. Jesus spoke incredibly harshly against this influence, calling the leaders and perpetrators of it sons of hell, a brood of snakes, blind guides, under the power of darkness, unclean, and more.
In the scriptures posted at the beginning, we see God has called His people out of darkness and desires them to have no contact with that which is unclean. Now look this small sampling of Jesus’ words to the religious:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27, 15)
Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against him, “…this hour and the power of darkness are yours” (Luke 22:52-53).
You (religious Jews) are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. (John 8:44)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites…you make (your converts) twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15)
God sees things totally differently than men do. Jesus’ awareness wasn’t on evil in the world, it was solely on the spiritual realm and His Father’s will. Being good, kind, or knowing scripture well have nothing to do with possessing spiritual insight, which is of a different realm. Instead, God’s true ministers are spiritual men, who know God’s voice unusually well and point you to the Spirit of God alone to be your ultimate teacher. Jesus, Israel’s messiah, succeeded in his mission to fulfill the law Israel was under. He then called Israel to abandon their law mentality and religious traditions in order to follow Him in the new and better way of the spirit, which leads to sonship. Jesus himself enabled and modeled this way.
The true “ekklesia” today consists of believers worldwide, who God has primarily called out from the “uncleanness” and “darkness” of RELIGION, in order to follow His Son’s way. Christianity is today’s dominant religion over God’s people, and like Israel, Christians have been seduced by its familiarity and good, not realizing it has long been spiritually barren and ignorant of God’s heart.
I’ll keep stressing this – Jesus’ call, only given to God’s people, is: “follow me.” To answer this call is to be “called out” from every other way, including Christianity, to follow Jesus’ way of spiritual communion with and submission to the Father. We must first deny SELF – primarily our own understandings and desires – then follow the spirit of God into new territory every day. Following Jesus’ way is difficult and takes time, so be patient, diligent and SEEK, just as he did. The reward is to know God and His Son. God bless you.