Expressing the 'perfect love' brotherhood of Jesus
It wasn't long after God gave us Bugbrooke Hall in 1974 and we'd plunged into community, that we saw Christ's church in a fresh light. We'd experienced something of a sharing brotherhood as found in Acts 2. [Acts 2:45] We also knew that any true church was a radical Jesus 'family'. In fact a revolution of love was shaking our social barriers to pieces!
But when we really saw God's angle on the church, there was no stopping us! We saw, like Jesus said, that the church was a 'city on a hill', His beautiful, spiritual city in the world. [Matt. 5:14] So we determined, whatever the cost, to build ourselves together as one.
We set about forming a Jesus culture, a love-community of spiritual power and material equality. Just like the early church. As we shared time, money and food, relationships deepened, our 'shells' fell away and we flowed together as friends. God's city took shape. A brotherhood of 'perfect love' began to emerge. [1 Jn 4:12] Then people arrived on our doorstep, frustrated, sick of the world and longing for New Testament Christianity. They were looking for 'Zion'.
Zion, the church
So what is Zion? In Old Testament days, Zion was the hill fortress of Jerusalem. When David made Jerusalem his capital city, he ensured that God's temple was built there. Every Israelite knew that Zion, or Jerusalem, was where God lived and ruled. Jerusalem was the 'city of the great King' and there God was worshipped. [Matt. 5:35] Zion stood for all that was holy, victorious and good. She was 'the joy of the whole earth'. [Psalm 48:2]
Today, God's people are His church. Like Israel of old, we are His 'chosen race', His 'royal priesthood' and His 'holy nation'. [1 Pet 2:9] [Gal 6:16] The church is God's spiritual Zion, [Heb 12:22] [1 Pet 2:6] His temple [Eph 2:21] and the centre of His rule on earth. That's how great and how distinctive she is. But only as we gather, like the first Christians, in a community of 'one heart and soul', [Acts 4:32] does God's Zion really shine out as light to the world.
The ultimate anointing
Ern Baxter, a respected Christian leader, once stated that 'this present global outpouring of the Holy Spirit is to manifest God's glory in a redeemed community'. Speaking in 1975 to a large gathering of leaders in the States, he prophesied that the church, as God's counter-culture, would know an 'ultimate anointing'. [*]
Recently in the UK we have known a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. That anointing is not only to bless us individually but to establish God's alternative society in radical church life. People are crying out for truth, justice and love. They may not realise it, but they're looking for Zion, 'the city of truth'.
Jesus is building His church in this present revival. But it is requiring a revolution of the first order. It's a revolution of Jesus discipleship. For us, that has meant setting aside every other interest so that a 'Zion church' can arise in beauty in our midst. It has involved a lot of repentance, sacrifice, forsaking of the world, and coming together in continuous covenant love. But it's the warm brotherhood of Jesus that's good news to the poor. It's God's kingdom. Jesus Revolution.
Without a 'Zion church', our evangelism would be a flop. That's because it's only when God blesses our oneness that we can lead people to Christ. Equally, it's only when some people feel the genuineness of brotherly love that they have any desire to find Christ for themselves. But that's what the Lord predicted. [John 13:35]
Almost daily now, through the warmth and energy of the gathered church, we see Jesus healing wounds, bringing dead souls to life and baptising them in the Holy Spirit. Amongst us, new brothers and sisters are nurtured in a 'family' atmosphere of togetherness, acceptance and patient love. 'Zion' is a fruitful mother. [Is. 49:18-20] [Is. 60:4] [Is. 66:8] Without her many would go backwards.
Gone are the days of individual, fruitless, professional Christianity. We're determined to throw all culture-conditioning to the wind and relate! Black, brown, white, posh, poor, or bright! There's a new city rising within the old. Don't miss it! That's where the life is! A Jesus Revolution is spreading and the church is getting mighty brotherly and wildly radical. So are the people!
Isaiah prophesied of a day when, "The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing". [Is. 35:10] That day is now!
As one Jesus Fellowship brother wrote:
This is my home, the harbour of my soul,
Here have I come, and here I am made whole;
The breath of God and the grace of Christ in you
Brings warmth and life and loyal brotherhood.
Here will I stay, and never shall depart,
I'll hold this Zion deep within my heart,
And I will work and give my life for you;
The covenant bond that is forever new. [*]