If you build it He will come.
When I first saw the film Field of Dreams with Kevin Costner it really spoke to me powerfully concerning building the church. A voice speaks to his character and asks him to build a baseball ground on his farmland in the middle of nowhere with the promise that if he builds it he will come. After much ridicule and misunderstanding and some specific instructions he finally builds the field and his father appears and visits him to play baseball, which in turn brings great healing. This resonated at the time concerning building the church to God’s specifications and then He would come and bring healing. This remains one of my favorite films of all time. But now as I stand in a new landscape that voice and that statement are meaning something different to me, and I am sure others. I realise what I was trying to build brought a small portion of blessing at times but never the presence that would release the fullness of Father’s healing. When I try and build something to touch the heavens I believe that I am actually entering into the spirit of Babel, and here they created something that brought God down, but he came as the great Shaker of all things, the great Scatterer, the great Confuser. The church is facing that character of God again. Only what is of Him will remain this time, we are told as such in the book of Hebrews. It is time to stop trying to rebuild Babel.
The church as Babel
The first thing we are told about the people of the day of Babel is that they had one language and one speech or lip. Uniformity. Clones. Everyone made the same, no creativity or fresh expressions. The whole atmosphere of church breeds uniformity. One creed. One set of beliefs, one set of actions, one church service structure. Every new convert is assimilated just like the Borg in Star Trek, to think the same, do the same. Anyone trying to be different is classed as rebellious. This links into Martin’s latest blogs about our thoughts. I think it is impossible to be in the system and not begin to think like the system. The church is like Babel. We are re-programmed and rebooted with the programme of church life and structure. That is why when new moves begin they soon end up becoming church because the magnet of Babel is strong. Man wants to create uniformity, and not a true unity of variety.
The people of Babel were past journeyers but they become dwellers. Many present denominations begin not as labelled commodities but as travellers. But sadly they all seem to be find a plain to dwell in. The label is then stuck on so we know what that brand looks and tastes like. I believe that as soon as a movement gets labelled it becomes Babel. The movement really dies. That is why I love about where we are, no one can pin it down or give us a name. Let us never take one on, but the name of Jesus.
Let us build a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens. They build upwards towards God. They want to create something that reaches the heavens. Church is about reaching the heavens. Getting people to heaven when they die, and touching the heavens through worship, song, prayer etc. We may not all have spires that reach up to heaven now but in spirit we are all creating spires. Better worship teams, greater prayer gatherings, powerful Bible studies, all touching the hem of His garment. God will inhabit the praises of His people. Sing better, get better results. If we build it He will come and manifest amongst us.
Let us make a name for ourselves. Be famous. The church has a massive cult of celebrity. I think we created this before the world did. Name speakers, musicians, worship leaders etc. The one’s building big churches that write books and have TV programmes so we can copy them and be as successful. Get on those conference posters. We were told this would be a nameless and faceless move of God. That He would not share His glory with another. Then we become the face that tells others about it. Maybe if we make it we have lost it. More people need to lose it to find it again.
Whole lotta shakin’
It is interesting to read what God says. Because the people are so much in uniformity they are powerful. Nothing will be impossible for them. They can do anything…without God. No dependence. No trust. No faith. So what is God’s response? To bring confusion and scattering. We have been told that God is not the author of confusion, but here He is. I love the paradox. He does it so man cannot understand each other, they need God. Dependant on something outside themselves. I know that feeling. I once spoke the church language but now I seem to speak a different language. I felt I could build anything, now I am confused. I have ceased building towers to reach the heavens. I need Him.
Babel translates the gate of God/god. I realise now it was my gate and not His. We start building a church but it will always end up an empire with a brand and a name. That spirit of babel is so strong. What we need is His Spirit. The Ruach. (to be continued).