Catalyzing The Priesthood of All Believers

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isa. 43).   “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3)
The Lord is always on the move…constanstly creating stories of deliverance and transformation among us!  Sometimes I think we have it backwards.  In our self-centered way of perceiving reality, we tend to believe that God exists to bring us the comfort, solace, and deep sense of peace that we all seek.  In reality it is we, the creatures, who were fashioned by and for Him, the Creator, in order to address His desires and carry-out His plans.  Ironically, it is when we give ourselves over to Him that we experience glimpses of the fulfilment & joy that otherwise elude our grasp.  This dynamic can be really confusing to those of us who follow Him, because of the many promises of peace that are given in His Word; but we’re reminded also that this life is for fruitful labor rather than blissful reward. He is constantly at work, and incessantly urging us to join Him in it.
The Body of Christ, which all of His committed people are part of, is His continuing and active presence in the world today.  In a culture that hijacks the message of blessing toward destinations of indulgence, we are those who are called to be perpetually giving ourselves away for His purposes… serving the beloved poor He is seeking to bless through us…sharing the message of hope with those who are searching for the truth.  I’m convinced that one of the reasons we’re not seeing more Kingdom-Of-God stories of transformation in our day is because the rank & file Christians have forgotten who we are.  We all want salvation for the next life, but it seems like only a few of us are willing to set ourselves apart to be fruitful for Him in this one. There is an artificial distinction between the religious and secular, or in philosophical terms the “sacred and profane.”  Our system of understanding & practicing “church” is based on a model that would be foreign to Jesus and the early Christians.  
The New Testament Church – the One we read about in the Bible, which is our model of faith and practice – was more like a loosely-affiliated web of friend-groups led by ordinary people than the highly centralized, professional organizations that superceded them.  Today, many Christians in America believe that they need to show-up to a Sunday morning event for concert-quality music & professional motivational speaking in order to connect with God.  This has created a massive ecclesiastic consumer industry that plagues the Church of Jesus with shackles of perceived powerlessness.  My wife and I love our congregational church services, but we recognize that they’re supplemental to what’s primary.
As a “ministry insider,” I intimately understand the challenges of modern church staff who long for their people to understand & grasp the identities that the Father calls them into as His agents in the world.  Most of the pastors I know are working & praying their tails off, trying to motivate their churches to actually BE the Church; finding themselves locked into robust, million-dollar programs that often perpetuate the consumeristic culture of “churchianity.”  This is part of the reason why Catalyst exists. 
We want to be servants of Jesus and His Church to be part of the solution, catalyzing every follower of Christ:
  • To meed the needs of the poor/needy in their own neighborhoods
  • To be ready to answer those who ask about his/her hope in Christ
  • To see his/her living room, coffee house, or break room, as primary places for fellowship 
  • To take the church back into the world, as a multi-faceted expression of all His people
We’ve experienced all of these values in the first 12-years of Catalyst, and are eager to share what we’ve learned. Coming Soon: “Catalyst Network” will pass-along the principles we’ve learned to others, equipping them to continue the movement.

The Great Reward

One of the greatest & most vital themes woven throughout the scriptures is the idea of God’s people experiencing intimate connection with Him.  We say things like “Jesus is my best friend”…”The Holy Spirit is my guide”….”I have a personal relationship with God.”  This is the common pursuit of all the Biblical heroes, still available to us today; and it’s also often misunderstood and hijacked to other destinations in daily life… or jettisoned altogether in favor of alternative relational arrangements, as if the Heavenly Father were some distant relative we’ve deemed to be “unsafe” or “toxic” to our own self-absorbed versions of happiness.  

There are many examples of modern-day spiritual heroes who “walk with God,” while countless other nominals pass-by obliviously in pursuit of temporary worldly pleasures; wanting to “have their cake and eat it too” as the old saying goes.  I see this everywhere, don’t you?  This is what practically happens when we become more fixated on the blessings of God than on God Himself.  What a tragic juxtaposition it is when the creatures lose touch with the Creator by clinging to the creation.   

This is the dynamic that I see so often rising-up in my own heart, observe in the people around me, and see full-scale in the society in which I currently call home.  It has its roots in pride, the original sin that claims that I may actually know what’s better for me than God Himself.  Like petulant children who have (literally) been given the world by a Generous Father full of love; we tend to get lost in the gifts themselves, only sincerely seeking Him when we need our circumstances to change or to be rescued from misfortune.  Yet His priorities are completely different, alien to our instincts.  The purpose of our lives, especially in relation to our Heavenly Father, is INTIMACY with Him….everything else is byproduct.

This is how people of great faith can appear to be so peaceful and content in situations that seem impossibly harrowing.  Faith is not the passive belief that God exists out there somewhere Whose purpose is to reward the world’s “good people” by making things go well for them in their short lives on earth.  This is a weak & miserable counterfeit of true, Biblical faith; and it doesn’t actually work in the end because, well, there is no end.  The world we live in now is a dress-rehearsal for what’s coming, and we’re being called to learn our parts and join hands with the Master in the Great Dance that is already breaking-out all around us.  

Biblical faith is not “knowing about God” in order to make informed decisions about your life; it’s about KNOWING GOD” in every step of every day, acquiescing to his movements as He carries you along in the chapter.  REAL FAITH is about trusting Him fully no matter what circumstances or consequences we encounter, being fully-persuaded that He is good, that He has us in the palm of His hand, and that He is working things out to complete us in ways we cannot control.  What we CAN control is how close we allow ourselves to become with Him.

This is what is meant by the idea of having a “personal relationship with God.”  Although this phrase doesn’t actually appear anywhere in the Bible, it’s the common theme that runs throughout salvation history from Adam all the way to the Conquering Christ.  I’m cuddling-up with Him this morning with these things in mind; asking Him to strip-away all the lies in me that cause distance between us, and asking Him to replace them with truths from His lips.  I’m encouraging myself with His Word, which is His love letter to all mankind in general and to me in particular.  I pray that these words are meaningful to you as well.  Seek Him today….

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

“’You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord… (Jeremiah 29:13)

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly SEEK HIM.” (Hebrews 11:6)

”All these people [of great faith] were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

“…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)