|The Hebraic Vision of the Church|
The Hebraic vision of the church in creation positions the people of God - the church - within what I call the five creational spheres of authority and influence, society and all creation. It reveals creation, not just the congregation as being the focus for the body of Christ, the church. These five spheres are – marriage, family, work, tribe and nation – and they set the creation context for the life, activity and impact of each member of the body of Christ.
Now, in contrast to Plato’s (Greek thinking) design specifications, this Hebraic worldview, with its emphasis on the heavens of God existing over the earth in space and time, leads us into a very different understanding of place and therefore design for the church gathered and the church extended - in regards to its physical, psychological and social dimensions, which in turn will reshape its apostolic mandate - His kingdom come, His will be done on earth.
Paul speaks of this design and this space in the book of the church, Ephesians. In Ephesians 1, he describes a church that exists in Christ who now stands in creation. Paul says that God put ‘all things in subjection under [Christ’s] feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all’ (Eph. 1:22,23). Therefore, Christ’s feet are on the earth, His head is in the heaven of God over the earth and His body the church now stands on earth and through the heavens to the very throne of God.
It is this church in creation in Christ that is the primary design space from which the body of Christ is meant to function and thereby fulfil the purposes of God.
The church therefore, is not as an institution that directs our passage to heaven, but as a body of people standing in creation, its mission to realize the kingdom of God in the earth. In line with their divine Hebrew heritage, the New Testament writers speak of a church that exists in every sphere of creation, which includes - marriage (Eph. 5:23ff), family (6:1ff), work (6:5ff), tribe (the gathering/the household of faith) (1Tim.3:15) and as a holy nation – body of Christ (1Pet. 2:9) under God.
This kind of kingdom-minded church will help everyone to ‘live a life worthy of the calling they have received’ (Eph. 4:1), ‘according to the grace each one of us has been given as Christ apportioned’ (Eph 4:7), that ‘some to be apostles, prophets’ etc (Eph 4:11), according to Paul will work towards a greater ‘unity of the faith’ (Eph. 4:13); which Paul describes as the body ‘being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part’ (Eph. 4:16). It is in this way that the ‘manifold wisdom of God’ will be more fully ‘made known through the church’ to the ‘rulers and authorities’ in both the heavens and the earth (Eph. 3:10).