If no one has told you this week, let us remind you, as a follower of Jesus you are God's gift to the world. Whether you are an Apostle, a Prophet, An Evangelist, A Shepherd, A Teacher...you are a part of the Body of Christ. You are a gift to the Church, which in the fullness of Christ is God's gift to the whole world!
Two weeks ago, we started to walk through the 5Q capacities in a new way, synching up with a sermon series by Jon Ritner at Ecclesia Hollywood. The first post, Understanding the Gifts of Grace, walked through an often unread and/or misunderstood passage, Ephesians 4:8-10.
Last week, we looked at the state of Apostles, Prophets and Evangelists in the Body of Christ. Bringing The APE Back From Near Extinction is a post that takes an honest look at the APE and the lack of place they experience in the Church.
This week we want to Release The APE Back Into The Wild, back into the Church, the natural habitat.
Alan’s new book, 5Q: Reactivating The Original Intelligence And Capacity Of The Body Of Christ, repositions us as Christians to see Jesus as the perfection of all five APEST gifts.
The church is not a mere historical effect of Christ; she is his “fullness” and his “Body.” Therefore, to encounter Christ the Head, one will need also to encounter the Body of Christ—for they are indivisible.
Stop a minute and breathe in the full profoundness of that statement: The church is not the lingering odor of a fragrant Messiah. We are the fullness of Jesus on the earth.
Church. Jesus. Jesus. Church.
To encounter one is to encounter the other.
To see Jesus is to see all five APEST personalities fully alive in one holy God.
To see Jesus in the Church is to see all five gifts fully alive and active through every member.
Modern church leadership has become so Shepherd/Teacher focused that our Apostles feel as though they to leave, frustrated, to exercise their gifts, planting new churches and starting new para church organizations because we couldn't/wouldn't create space for their instrument in our traditional orchestra.
We applaud the person in the pulpit (or at the head of the class), but can't seem to make room for the voice of the Prophet in the choir of church life. So, they huddle together, creating amazing worship songs while they heal from the hurt they experienced acting within their gifting: namely, calling us to holiness, reminding us that God's way for us is more important than our way for us.
We send the "called" to seminary equip more T/S's, but won't send our Evangelists through our neighborhoods because, new churches might explode out of their work before our Teachers graduate. So, they fall away from the Church and set up tents for thousands to hear the call of Christ, but remain totally unaware of his Body.
It's time to release the APE back into their natural habitat: The Church.
Let them go. Let them be them. Let them work in unpredictable ways. Let them reap what the Lord has sown, what they are called to harvest. Let them challenge. Let them lead. Let them be wild again.
If Mick Jaggar, Keith Richards and Ron Wood don't show up to the gig, with all due respect to Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, it's NOT the Stones.
In the same way, if the APE is not living and moving and having their being in the Body of Christ, we have to ask...Is it still Jesus? Remember, the whole point of these gifts is produce deep maturity and unity in every Christian.
We're going to wrap up with a few excerpts from the 5Q book. Take a look at the way the Jesus exemplifies APEST. Imagine these gifts embodied in your faith community the way they are fully displayed in Christ.
Jesus cannot be understood apart from all fivefold identities. Clearly all five APEST motifs are unmistakably present in Jesus’ life and together comprise his ministry. Think of them as the constellation of Christological identities and purposes that come together in Jesus.
As Messiah, Jesus both experienced (and proclaimed) himself as being sent into the world as the chosen messianic agent of God’s eternal mission. He followed the path that the Father had set for him. He lived perfectly by the demanding dictates of the kingdom of God; he reframed the terms of reference by which God was to be experienced and accessed; he extended the boundaries of God’s claim thereby initiating the worldwide messianic movement that was to become known as Christianity. He is the great Apostle.
Jesus was fiercely and uncompromisingly prophetic. Almost everything he said was tinged with the deep spiritual pathos related to covenantal concern with faithfulness to God. He unremittingly exposed the fundamental breakdown of covenant obligations of God’s chosen people; he named injustice and railed against unrighteousness; he exposed the ungodly toxicity in misguided religion. He cast out demons, spoke truth to power, confronted evil and unrighteousness. He is God’s perfect Prophet.
Jesus proclaimed good news for the poor, forgiveness for all sinners, and salvation for the lost. Signs and wonders confirmed his witness. He opened the doors to all those previously excluded through religion and politics. The masses experienced him as genuine good news. Ultimately, he paid for this redemption with the sacrifice of his very life. He is the greatest Evangelist ever.
He worked to include the previously excluded people into the covenant community and in so doing creates a new family, one not exclusive to Israel but open to all who love Jesus. Everything about him radiated concern for people and for the establishment of true human community and relationships. His healings and his miracles demonstrated God’s grace, mercy, and concern. They were prefigurations of the heavenly union. He is the perfect expression of the Shepherd, the Lover of his people.
He taught people wherever and whenever he could. He chose, instructed, and guided disciples (at various levels of intensity), teaching them his Way and the ways of the God of Israel. He actually recast the Torah by fulfilling it. His teachings were eloquent simplicity-beyond-complexity and were therefore accessible by the simplest and the wisest alike. The medium of his life was its message: the Truth and Light. He is the greatest Teacher ever.
To discover 5Q is to discover APE ministries being re-released back into the Church, back into the original intelligence and capacity of the Christ.
Has this post challenged, comforted, convicted you in any way? Let us know in the comments. We cannot wait to hear from you! Also, check out this podcast from Alan and Fuller Seminary President, Mark Labberton. You'll love it!
— 5Qcollective (@5Qcollective) October 24, 2017
[Thanks to Jon Ritner who has graciously allowed the sermon material from Ecclesia Hollywood’s current series, “Collaborative Church,” to be edited for the blog]