In 1988 Oldsmobile launched a new Cutlass model with the slogan, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile,” suggesting this car was designed for a new generation. I contend that the same principle is true in Kingdom language: This church is not your Father’s ark.
A couple of thousand years or so before Christ was born God commissioned one of His favorite people – Noah – to build an ark. As a ship it would attract a lot of attention because it was built far from any major body of water. It was a great platform from which to do evangelism. But it was primarily a place you could run to and find protection from the pending storm. It was a haven, a refuge, a shelter. A safe place.
Two millennia later, as Jesus was preparing to return to His Father, He birthed a different evangelistic platform. We call it the Christian church. There is a sense in which it, too, would be a protection, a safe place. But interestingly, He gave it an entirely different role. Rather than inviting His followers to run inside and hunker down, He said, “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves,” or as The Clear Word paraphrases Luke 10:3, “I’m sending you like innocent lambs into a pack of hungry wolves.” Doesn’t sound like a storm shelter to me; it sounds more like the football training camp of a winning team. It’s going to be a vicious game out there, but when we gather we get the training we need and we learn the Playbook from the Coach.
This is definitely not just another ark.
True, the faithful are invited in, but it’s primarily to prepare them to go out. Sounds to me that, unlike an earlier model, this is an intentional and aggressive strategy. You probably, as have I, walked out of a church after service and seen a plaque over the door that said, “You are now entering the mission field.” Obviously they get it. We come for worship; we come for fellowship; we come for equipping. Then we go out on assignment. Not to escape the enemy, but to encounter him. Not with timidity, but with temerity. Not to fear his weapons but trusting those we’ve been given.
Jesus promised His church would be victorious. He audaciously proclaimed, “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Rightly we ask God to protect the church, but maybe it would be more appropriate if we asked that He make it dangerous – dangerous to the legions of hell as we attack them from a kneeling position.