Finding Transformers #4
7 PM, Tuesday, october 27, 2020
The Organic Church #04
The Church is a Sacred Encountering Place
Exodus 3:1-8; 25:22
“There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”
Exodus 25:22 (NIV) -
Sunday Sermon on July 27, 2020
As we experience COVID 19, one of the big changes is the understanding of the church, in this new environment. Traditionally, the church has been considered as a place to gather, in church buildings, in committees serving the community, or a place to gather together for certain programs or events. During the last four to five months, we have been unable to gather in our common space, our church building. In that time, I have seen personally that the church is more than our building. Our church is a people of God. We continue finding more and more that the Spirit of God stays with each of us wherever we are. Although we cannot go to church, we must be the church where we are. We must continue to help feed the hungry and homeless, We must reach out to our neighbors near and far in need, We must communicate with those in our midst who currently feel isolated with a card or a call and we must continue to study God’s word.
As we have thought about the church as an organic community, we as the organic church have the essentials to move forward with, to keep, protect, and strengthen the mission of God for the world. The first essential of the church is the life of Jesus Christ, which is with us now as the Word of God. God’s Word must be the top authority in the church and the life of the people of God. The second essential is a spirit of unity and community in the body of Christ. Though many different people gather together as a church, we must be One Living Body of Christ in the Spirit.
Today, we are going to think about the third essential of the church. The church is a place for a sacred encounter with God. The Church is a holy place to encounter God. The word “Holy” means being separated from something. Setting something aside for a special purpose.
Exodus 25:22 is the first time God set the specific place where He would meet the Israelites and speak to them while they were in the wilderness.
Exodus 25:22 (NIV)
There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.
Exodus 25:22 is the first time God said to the Israelites that He would meet and speak to them. He had never set a place to meet with the Israelites before. But now God told them He would meet and speak to them at a certain place.
Where? - the cover of the Ark, between the two cherubim, which is called the ‘Mercy Seat’. This means that God told them to repent their sins when they come to meet with Him and listen to His Word.
Exodus 29:42 (NIV) 42 “For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord.
There I will meet you and speak to you;
Burnt offering meant the Israelites passed on their sins to a lamb as a sacrifice and burned it as they asked God to forgive their sins. And there, God said, I will meet with you and speak to you. Similarly in our time, in order to worship and listen to God's Word, we must come to the Lord repenting of our sins.
Coming to Lord with a heart of repentance is now the place we can meet with God and listen to His Word.
Now we know that the church is beyond the building itself. The church is a separate place to encounter God, wherever that takes place. Although we cannot currently gather together at church buildings to talk to God and listen to Him, any time and place we commune with God is the church. It could be your office, dining table, or even in your car. Wherever you can have a serious and in-depth conversation with God is a special, separate and holy place between you and God. This is the church.
There is a remarkable moment between God and Moses in Exodus 3;4-5
Exodus 3:4-5 (NIV)
4 When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
What did God say to Moses, “Do not come any closer, Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
God commanded Moses to take off his shoes. The foot is one of the dirtiest parts of our body. God commanded Moses to show his humanity as it is before Him and stand where he was because the place Moses was standing became holy ground as he took off his sandals..
God wants us to stand where we are now, showing ourselves as we are in that He wants us to make the place we are standing the holy place to encounter God.
There is no designated holy or secular place or thing. Every place can be holy or secular depending on our attitude.
For example, money; is money good or bad? This will depend on the person who uses the money and how it is used. How about a knife? Is a knife good or bad? Again, it depends on the person who uses the knife and how it is used. A surgeon can use a knife to save a person but a thief may use a knife to kill a person. How about a pastor? Is a pastor always holy? No. If I have a secular motive to preach and serve the people, I am a secular pastor. There are lots of secular pastors and also many holy pastors. The same is true with your house. Is your house a holy place or secular place? If you show yourself as you are to the Lord, it will be holy ground.
1 Timothy 4:4-5
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
So, the third essential of the church is that the church must be a sacred encountering place with God. There is a wonderful moment between God and Moses.
describes Moses encounter with God “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend”
God wants to have face to face conversation, which means intimate and in-depth dialogue with His children. Face to face conversation is not a matter of physical location. It does not matter where we meet. If you have a best friend, it does not matter where you go. Right? When you simply have a place to talk to each other, it is enough for you and your best friend.
How about God? God is a spirit. Wherever we go, if we really want to talk with God, the place doesn’t matter. We can have meaningful, spiritual, and growing time with God together anywhere. God wants to have intimate time with us. Any place we meet with Him intensely would be the true church.
God told the Israelites why He wanted to meet with them in Exodus 29:45-46.
Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.
It is because He wanted to dwell among them and be the Lord, their God.
Where is your special and sacred space? Where do you most often experience time with God? Think about the place or places where you can have a sacred encounter with God so that God can dwell with you and be the Lord of the lords and your God. I hope and pray that all of us can have a sacred encounter with God where we are every day; so that we can be in the Spirit of God where we are, and God can be the Lord, our God wherever we are. Especially in this difficult season, you can have intimate time with God at your sacred place. You can find yourself in God’s big arms with His peace.
Let us pray
Father, thank you for being with us in Spirit. Thank you for helping us to understand where we can worship You and encounter You. Lord, all of us are in an uncertain time right now. Please come upon each of us and comfort and encourage us to walk through this difficult season in our lives by faith with You. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Questions for discussion:
How would you describe the difference between going to church and being the church?
Is there a physical place other than our church building where you feel like you can encounter God?
Paul has written we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The nearly universal response of people asked if they think they are going to heaven is, “I am a good person.” How does this apparent disconnect relate to coming to God with a repentant heart?
Read 1 Timothy 4:4-5. What does this tell us about God in light of all the pain and suffering we see around us?
In what ways can you create sacred space outside of the church building to have an intimate, “face-to-face” conversation with God?