The Pattern – Building Spiritual Community

Here is another small portion from the book I am writing called “Kingdom Discipleship, Changing the Culture of the Church”.

Unlike building a structure that has boundaries and is limited to participation if only within those boundaries, we are to be building a spiritual community. God does everything by relationship so anything that is not relationship driven will be lacking Kingdom dynamics. God’s original intention was that mankind would be His family  and that His family would have dominion in the earth.

Jesus came not to bring a Kingdom but to reestablish it or reform it in the earth. Jesus’ first act was to get the family back through the act of redemption. The second act was to empower that family to be the Ecclesia through the working of the Holy Spirit’s activity in their lives.

So the spiritual community we want to form has both these dynamics in it. The enlargement of the family as the family stewards the world around it with authority. Let’s go back to God’s original intention and take a quick look to see our role.  

Genesis 1:26 (KJV 1900) — 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

 Adam and Eve were created from both realms, the dust of the earth and the creative nature of God from heaven. The dust of the earth gives us our physical form. The creative nature of God was the part or image that we were to take on that would produce life in us.

The word ‘image’ means ‘the resemblance, copy or representation of’. The word ‘likeness’ means ‘similitude, manner, fashion, to be like, a pattern or model to be compared’. The words are not interchangeable. The word “likeness” rather than diminishing the word “image” actually amplifies it. Man is not just an image but a likeness-image. In other words, man takes on the representation of God to such a degree that the pattern and model of God is portrayed in man for others to compare. That’s a whole lot more than trying to be godly. It is actually doing it to such a degree that a pattern emerges. That pattern was how the “family” was to have dominion on the earth.

 Man is not simply representative but representational. Again there is a big difference. To be a representative means ‘to act on the behalf of’, ‘to have official office or duty’. Anyone can represent someone much like a lawyer represents a client. But to be representational means ‘how to relate to the representation’, ‘to have the ability to be represented, or made a defense for’.’ Having substance’. In the art world, it means it has the substance of a time or style but has individuality enough that it can stand on its own as well. It also can mean that enough substance exists that a pattern is seen and understood by all and others can copy the essence and express it without losing the essence. It establishes pattern over fulfilling duty. Perhaps the Church has been trying to take dominion from duty and not by establishing pattern!

‘Image’ is the natural dynamic of God. While ‘likeness’ is the spiritual dynamic of God. Man is the visible representative of the invisible, bodiless God. This makes man the image. But likeness actually guarantees that man is an adequate and faithful representative of God on earth. Another way of putting it is, God created man like the first painting an artist would do. But the artist painted other paintings along the same lines and hence a pattern was seen that we call an impression that is easily recognized as the artist’s work, even though the paintings are different. God is the artist and Adam was the first painting. Today we are the rest of the paintings and we should all be pointing to the artist!

 Creation was first in the thoughts of God, in the heavenly realm. Earth became the place God works out His thoughts and intentions. Earth was formed for God to create a pattern through man. So man is an actual living example  of the interaction of heaven and earth.

Genesis 1:26–28 (KJV 1900) — 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Let’s leave out the word ‘man’ and read the underlined part above. It reads this way: the image and likeness of God was created to have dominion.

All creation stayed fixed and untouched by the fall.   Stars, planets, galaxies etc. are still in place by God’s oversight. But the earth is the only thing assigned to man. God said I will rule all this and you rule the earth. God brought all things into order and then turned to man and said now keep this in order. But since the fall occurred, man lost the order and even lost the family. Jesus came, redeemed the family and then said to bring this in order again. You have authority! So we come to the time of reformation of all things. Reformation means ‘to reform, to stand upright, to bring into order, to re-constitute’. Reformation or reforming is not making something new or created but allowing God’s hands through our lives to reform it! In other words, God wants to use us to paint through us a spiritual pattern into the earth! Now that’s exciting!

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