For the past few years I’ve carried a prophetic word inside me that has built up over time, and I believe now is time to release it. That word is what follows in this article.
God is calling the Church back to being a family, not an institution, a ministry or a business, but a family – His family!
Let me give you some insight into how this word came about. For several years I had lived with this growing uneasiness, a feeling of being dislocated and disassociated from family somehow, even though I dearly love and see my natural family often. It wasn’t until I was talking to another prophet one day that I understood what had been happening to me. They said, “Prophets often live their message, not just give a message.”
All of a sudden things made sense. I had been feeling the heart of the Trinity for their dissociated, dislocated family. I had carried this in me, feeling both their pain and the Church’s pain. Since then, as the Lord and I have been processing in preparation for releasing this word, He has lifted those feelings and I feel normal again.
Prophets not only often carry the message within them, they also often model the answer, and unknowingly in my own life, I had been doing this over the past few years. My heart’s cry and my focus has been to embody and live out this prayer: God, You are love and I know, as one made in Your image, that’s what You’ve made me at my core and what I’m learning to be. God, make me a living manifestation of love!
Where We Are Today
Over the past few years, as I’ve carried this word growing within me, I’ve become more and more convinced that the Church needs a fundamental shift back to viewing each other as family.
Many times the Church doesn’t feel like family because deep down we’ve strayed away from seeing it as that, and therefore haven’t put our efforts into being that. Instead, we’ve often come to view the Church as a ministry, a meeting place, an institution, and it has often been modeled on a business or ministry, not a family.
We may acknowledge that we are brothers and sisters with our words, but when the Church is run on any other model, family will never be able to truly function. Does there need to be processes, structures and other things in place for the family to function well? Yes, but those processes and structures must come from the base of providing a place where family can be facilitated and really thrive. Our call is not to build a ministry or the best church in the city, even to affect society, as good as that aim is. Affecting society should be a natural outcome of the family of God functioning and loving others well. (Photo via Unsplash)
All over the world many people in churches everywhere are dissatisfied, feeling disconnected from other church members. They are longing for true family and community and aren’t finding it in the places where they meet to worship. There’s no worse place for that feeling of being lonely and disconnected than in the family of God. Why? Because deep down we all know that we are supposed to be a family.
We instinctively know that the feeling of belonging, of being known and celebrated is what we were created for; that’s why we all long for it so much. And when we don’t find it in the family of God – where we should – our hearts and spirits grieve and hope slowly dies within us. We then often end up going through the motions, meeting together in groups we call our church families, yet all too often feeling like they are anything but families.
That feeling of dislocation and not truly being loved is something that is at the very heart of what God is seeking to do worldwide. He longs to bring us back into a place of knowing that we belong, of being a family, of being loved and accepted even with all our foibles and quirks, all for one, simple reason – because we’re a family.
Family From the Beginning
Love and family are at the core of the creation of mankind and of the Gospel itself because of the fact that the Trinity wanted others to be a part of their oneness, their love, and the relationship they share with each other. They are love and love needs to express itself, therefore they wanted others to love, they wanted family. That’s why they made mankind in their image, not so that they would have a world full of workers, but that they would have others to share their relationship of love with.
Their plan was that mankind would grow and mature in this place of relationship, connection and belonging. The heart of the Trinity is that we would experience the same flow of love, honor and oneness, yet diversity, that they experience between themselves, and that this would become the basis for all human relationships.
This love, caring for each other and working together would come to be called “family.” And that’s where our idea of a human family is found. That’s fundamentally why couples have children; they want someone who bears their DNA, their image – they want someone who their love created, to pour their love into, just like the Trinity did.
Yet, we all know what happened; relationship with the Trinity (who we most often just call God) and with each other was torn apart by sin, and mankind lived in the consequences of this for many centuries, until Jesus, who is part of the Trinity, came to restore and reconcile all things back to the Trinity.
It was Jesus who called God “Father” and showed us the closeness of relationship the Trinity had amongst themselves. He revealed that they were a family and invited us to also be sons and daughters of God. We were invited and restored back into the everlasting family to be the beloved children of God – to be a family with the Trinity and with each other.
Made One in Christ
In family there is diversity of opinions, beliefs, likes and dislikes, and expressions, but underneath all of this is a foundation of love, of knowing that we are family and that family relationship is stronger than our disagreements or differences. Our sense of family and unity is found not in our agreeing over theology; it’s found in knowing that we have been brought together in relationship with God and each other in Christ – made one family in Him. Scripture calls us, in Eph. 4:3, to maintain the unity that we have through the Spirit.
We don’t have to try and find family, we need to realize that we already are one, and start treating each other as such. We are not rivals – “us and them” – neither are “we” right and “they” wrong because “they” don’t believe what we believe. We are all growing and learning; none of us have all truth. None of us will ever have perfect theology because we will never fully understand God. We must realize that we see through a glass dimly, and on our best day we only have a small part of the full truth and a partial perspective (1 Cor. 13:9-12).
Jesus told us plainly that it is by our love for one another that the world will know we are His disciples (Jn. 13:35). I am convinced that this simple statement is at the heart of why the world doesn’t see us as having significance for their lives, because they don’t see us loving each other well.
The Heart of the Reformation
Over the past decade or so the Church has entered a time of reformation that will change the Church even more than Martin Luther’s reformation did. During this time the Lord has been relentless in establishing identity in the lives of His children so that they know beyond a doubt that they are sons and daughters of God. Now He is taking us deeper into that revelation, from an individual level to a corporate level, from knowing we are individual sons and daughters to knowing that we are family.
This is something that will call for a radical overhaul of our mindsets and behaviors and will fundamentally change how we each live our lives, as well as how we run our churches, and possibly even what happens as we meet together.
In the initial stages of this reformation of the Church there will be a tearing down and a rooting up so that we can rebuild on a restored foundation. This tearing down is from God, and will come out of the realization that it is only those who deeply love that will find within themselves the courage to face the truth and do what’s needed to fix things. We must courageously face our shortcomings in order to correct them. (Photo via Pixabay)
Much of the Church currently lives in a state of “hope deferred” in relation to the family of God, and that has made us sick, as Scripture tells us in Prov. 13:12. The Church has become sick and dysfunctional as a family and, sadly, the world often sees that sickness, that disease and dysfunction better than we do. This is a part of the reason why they don’t come to our churches for help.
But God is the great healer, and restoring relationships is something God is brilliant at! After all, the Trinity acted together, coming as one in Christ to restore us to themselves. This was family acting to restore their family.
Now the Trinity is calling us to realize afresh that we are family. It’s time for the Church, individually and collectively, to repent of our mindsets, attitudes and unloving actions toward each other. It’s time to correct our viewing of the Church as a ministry or institution, and to stop modeling it on a business. It’s time to realize again that we are family and begin to work on our family dynamics, our relationships and our love for one another.
With the Word Comes Grace and Power
As with all prophetic words that God releases, along with the word comes a release of the power needed to bring this to pass. God is calling us back to being a family, and in that call we also have the provision needed to see this happen – the grace, the love, the ability, with God’s help, to be able to forgive each other and work through our differences, finding our way back to family closeness.
It will take cooperation with God and each other. It will require effort and determination on the part of each of us. We will have to choose to walk as a family, look out for each other, and help and care for those around us in a deeper and more practical way than ever before.
In the midst of our cooperating with God, He will also work miracles of reconciliation. God’s plan for the Church is not to create an ignoble, defeated, broken Body of Christ, full of family disharmony, but a radiant family where the Trinity will have what Christ died for – the restoration of relationships to one another and to the Trinity, and the knowledge that we belong, that we are loved, accepted and celebrated, and that we are, through Christ, a family.
I believe that it is out of this place of truly loving one another and working together as a family that we can most effectively experience the radical impact and systemic change in our communities that we long to see. (To Subscribe to the Elijah List subscribe here.)
Lyn Packer and her husband Rob have been in ministry for over 40 years in varying roles from youth workers through to senior pastors and now currently as itinerant ministers in New Zealand. They have ministered in many nations throughout the South Pacific, Asia, and in North America. They are a part of the Prophetic Council in New Zealand and are widely respected as prophetic ministers wherever they minister. Lyn facilitates the New Zealand Prophetic Network, a ministry similar to Elijah List in New Zealand, and leads a network for women ministers in New Zealand.