There is no need for the love of and for His Church to grow cold! Here’s why…(if you have not yet moved into the part of The Father’s Heart that loves and labors for His church, this article will not be very helpful to you. I do however, challenge you to catch a glimpse of this aspect of His Passion for His Own Mystical Body, and Bride! And move on from a reactive stance towards the Church based on your own experiences with her, into a loving laboring passion for Her, based on His Orientation towards her! He is not done with His Church, and already she shines eternal!) In the end, we are meant to love what He loves, not just because it happens to be lovable in its current state, but because He loves it!
What I am exploring in this piece, is Paul’s tone or orientation towards each church he writes, as a way of seeing how God parents different parts of His Body depending on where they are at developmentally, and what they are meant to highlight about Him. Their unique offering or gift or sign to the world. Interesting study on discipling the church herself and her many aspects or parts.
There are basic types of churches which emerge from the study of Paul’s letters: leadership churches, persecuted churches, powerhouse churches (which struggle with carnality and authority), tender young or immature churches, new wineskin or modeling churches etc. And God has a unique orientation towards each church depending on what they need next in their development. You see this again in the book of Revelation–unique blessings and warning and challenges to each church. There is a pattern of this in scriptures in terms of how God disciples His Own Body. His Own Family. His Own Household. His Own Bride and all the other things the church is called metaphorically in the New Testament.
If we are praying for His Church, it is helpful to know where the part we are praying for is at, and The Father’s exact orientation towards each part. I challenge you in prayer to first ask God to tell you the story of your own life from His Perspective, and then to add to it the story of the part of the church you came from or were discipled by. The spiritual seeds planted in us are not random plantings! There are specific impartations we were given at certain times in our journey from different parts of His Body. To honor them, is part of honoring our spiritual parents. “We rest on giants” my mother once said. And even broken giants carry eternal seeds, i might add! See what its strengths and growth points are, and sense His Heart’s orientation towards it. It will enlighten your understanding of your own journey, flesh out your true testimony, as well as aid you in prayer for that particular part (or parts in my case) of His Body!
I’ve had many dreams about different parts of The Body, and my personal orientation towards them. I have seen that the charismatic church, though filled with His Power, can become also isolated or struggle with rejection and belonging issues-even basic self esteem or acceptance from The Father. The Baptist, with stubbornness and fear of the super natural (but also i was shown that the Holy Sprit was entering through prayer into the baptist church, and through worship). This part of the Body also struggles with over programming, or not yielding to The Holy Spirit when it is asked to. It was meant to and has carried The Word and been faithful in doctrine, but it also needs to breath The Spirit and be led (for as many as are led by His spirit are becoming the sons of God etc). But He is not done incarnating Himself into the baptists!
Later I was shown how the Presbyterians carry an understanding of spiritual history, but also struggle with humanism and intellectual pride etc. Each part of the Body has unique strengths and weaknesses and as He is making the whole whole, so to speak, it is good to gain insights as to where each part is, in Him! I saw in another dream that in the 1970’s the catholic church had a charismatic renewal that broke it’s doors open; however, aesthetically it was still framed in the original texture of that renewal and needed to update its frame-linguistically and aesthetically. The Holy Spirit was there, but wanted to wear new clothes, so to speak. Each part of His Body is worth it! But each requires a unique type of praying and ministry into fuller maturity in Him!
It’s helpful in gaining prayer insight to ask–what was God’s original mandate or purpose for this part of the Body, how did it corrupt this purpose (what was He restoring or healing through what this part highlights?), and then how does He desire to redeem it! Get all three, so you can really see the whole journey and understand just how amazing God really is, in His ways of relating to and making whole His People! That’s the point of coming to know and love His Church. It is a meditation of God Himself in the end! How He loves us into place, reveals His Nature!
I have also seen the deep seated fatherless (orphan mentality) insecurity of some of the emergent parts of His Body; and, ironically, a fear of true spiritual authority, even though, these aspects of His Body often move in His true authority. A type of reactive rather than active from the Spirit stance in this portion of his Body. A type of insecure banter to validate one’s own ministry (some of this coming out of not being validated by earthly fathers!). I was also shown that many move in guilt rather than freedom in many of the emerging models of church. And yet, there is great potential as this renewal movement matures, and makes more flexible frames for His Kingdom to come into. And as it is properly linked to the rest of the Body, for a real power surge to be given into the global Body. This part struggles with religion and hype (witchcraft) as well. But as she is humbled, could really begin to download His blueprints for the whole Church! Never throw out the Baby because of the dirty bath water! Take, for example the Messianic movement which started out immature and sort of exaggerated I think, but has now matured to really be able to teach the true gospel from a Jewish epistemology. Things mature, eventually if they stay “in Him”!
Anyways, we can tell a lot about where each church was at, by “the tone in the Spirit” of Paul’s letters. Each struggled with something unique; and each required a different tone of discipleship. The Galatians struggled with religion and witchcraft, so Paul clearly teaches them about the nature of true spiritual authority, and he breaks curses off their minds! The Galatians were still trying to please God by human effort and religious works. So Paul teaches about Grace. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit by following the law?” Paul asks them.There is a firm but caring tone in this letter.
With the Thessalonians, Paul is much more mothery–consistently caring, tender and soft, yearning consoling and comforting. He had left an immature church there, who had still, with the amount of spiritual food given, remained faithful. But he knew they needed more food, and so was very patient and loving with them. They were the immature church. Their parents left early. So in some sense, they were the orphaned church. So Paul’s tone is unique to that stage of development. To the Colossians, he is similarly speaking to a young church, and is warning them of the wolves at their door. He has a sort of father protective tone in terms of the vulnerability of children to false teachers. But there is a similar tone of addressing a youthful part of the church and keeping them safe.
Not so in Corinth–here is the power church that has gotten carnal and prideful. Paul is much harsher and firmer, and definitely corrective and disciplinarian. He is also delineative! Wants to usher in clarity and the mind of Christ on their situation. He is intolerant of their sexual mess, and their arguments over authority. He seems even shocked at moments in his discourse, by their pride. Here is a church which struggled with hedonism and confusion of thinking. Classic stings of witchcraft are here–they needed defogging in their thinking, and so Paul does break down a clear delineation of spiritual gifts and how spiritual power works in these letters. He also emphasizes love as higher–partly to help them not be prideful as they already seemed to have gotten from moving in God’s power gifts. This is stern tone, but very instructive.
Then we see the church most like Paul himself, in Philippians. Here is the” persecuted church”, and his tone is sheer encouragement and thankfulness. They had suffered from early on, but remained faithful in giving, prayer etc. And Paul prays Joy for them! His tone is like a happy bell ringing throughout this little letter to those he perhaps most empathized with, as they were sharing in his own way.
In Paul’s letter to the Roman church, we see a model of God’s stance towards a leadership church. With them his basic tone is strong–telling them to stay humble and don’t get prideful just because their faith is known throughout the world (as all leadership churches are!). He then goes on to give them spiritual meat, because leaders need that higher challenge of the deep knowledge of God. He offers to them some of the deepest and most complex teachings and revelations of the nature of the gospel in the whole New Testament! That is because they needed to eat eternal food as leaders in His Church.
I think these types of churches still exist and are a good way to access how to disciple and pray “into” and “for”, particular parts of His Body globally. Each church is at a unique stage in its spiritual development, but also is meant to accentuate or highlight unique characteristics of Christ. The persecuted church is blessed and led in a different way that the part of the church which is still immature but hungry like the Thessalonians. Leadership churches are challenged in a specific way. And churches which spotlight His manifest Power have unique challenges and gifts to offer the whole.
Paul had God’s orientation to each part of God’s Church, and expressed it in the tone of his letters. I think we also are challenged to have The Father’s orientation towards this amazing spiritual organism that He has created for His Own glory, and as a place He calls home!
If we are praying for the global Body it is good to note The Father’s tone towards each part of the church to sense and understand where it is at on its journey into full maturity. Does it need discipline, or tender encouragement. Does it need more food and fawning, to grow up? Or does it have enough food but is being prideful or carnal with its gifts? God has a different way of discipling each part of The Body. And we, as those given to her, need to know where she is at, and how He is making her more whole! Specifically, prophetic people, prayer folks, and worshipers and all of us who love what He loves–His Body; need to also gain the understanding of His Orientation and specific application of His Heart into each part of His, soon to be and in Him already, gorgeous Bride!