In every generation from the Egyptian refugees until the present, human beings have attempted to define a physical sphere in which God can be observed. From the Ark of the Covenant to lavish cathedrals, people have built containers or boxes for God.
We deeply desire that He get into the box and stay there. Our humanity needs to establish God in our three-dimensional paradigm so we can watch Him and try to figure out where He is, what He is doing and what He might do next.
History suggests that after A.D. 300, as Christianity became legal, God seemingly was willing to confine Himself to another box so His growing, struggling church would have something tangible that could be seen, organized and managed. This box became a building, which the people began to understand as “the church.”
With Christianity’s new status as the religion of the land the church could no longer meet in homes among the people. Respectability as a proper religion demanded a classier act.
Impressive buildings were built, robes were donned by the priests, and many of the supernatural aspects of the church went away. Christianity had to become civilized and behave with more decorum. If ordinary people wanted to have church, they had to go inside the building.
There would be no more meetings in the potter’s shop or the food market or anywhere else the people spent most of their time. And though the church was certainly easier to manage, Scripture does not suggest in any way that the church’s activities should be confined to a building.
Where in the World is the Church? The buildings were built. And because they were so grand, the priests and elders agreed God must be impressed and would not mind at all confining Himself to His new box.
Soon the ecclesia, the “called out ones,” the people of God who had heretofore understood themselves to be the church wherever they happened to be, no longer saw themselves as witnesses throughout the Earth. The hierarchy and the bureaucracy of the faith became more complex, and the people of God found themselves divided into two classes of believers: the laity and the ordained.
It became an accepted practice, embraced by both camps, that the laity go into the building that had become the church to be “in church.” The problem was not that church now took place in a building but that the people believed church could not take place anywhere else.
Furthermore, the laity came to believe they were an inferior class of believers. They thought they could be holy and set apart for God only when they were in the building or involved in supporting the agenda of those who ran the building.
The people came to believe that the really holy ones worked inside the building. For those who worked outside the building to please God and fulfill the call of God on their lives, they must work really hard in the workplace of the world and make enough money to quit and get a job inside the building.
God is Out of The Box Today, asking permission from no one, God has escaped again and has unabashedly showed up in the marketplace, where no one has thought to build a box for Him. As a result of doing this strange and unanticipated thing, God has shattered our comfortable paradigm about the sacred and the secular.
We have somewhat understood and agreed on which things were holy. But we have not always agreed or correctly understood which things were secular. It has been common to consider the secular and the profane to be the same thing, which of course they are not.
We opined that the marketplace, the place where people worked and spent most of their time, was a secular–i.e, profane–entity whose only purpose was to generate money for the holy thing, which is the church. It followed then that the church building and its associated ministries, being the only holy things, were therefore the only things God really cared anything about.
One can appreciate our corporate shock in discovering that apparently God cares much more about the secular than we thought He did. Who would have guessed God intended to raise up a parallel church to the traditional church?
Many of us never imagined God would pour out the very same Holy Spirit gifts upon the workplace church as He had done in past revivals upon the nuclear church. But that is precisely what is happening.