#11 – Covenantal Integrity

Reformation Celebration

The Series

#11 – Covenantal Integrity

 

The eleventh characteristic of the man of God whom we seek is that he will be willing to covenant to maintain integrity and confidentiality to insure personal security for effective deployment of internal financial mechanisms.

The emphasis here is on covenant.

We live in a contract world. Private contracts supersede even the U.S. Constitution … which is itself a contract. And, while God expects us to honor our agreements, He has never dealt with men via contracts. No, He deals with us via covenants, which are far more enduring and real than contracts that can be torn apart and broken by men and by lawyers.

What is the difference? A contract is a provisional commitment and agreement (a temporary bond) made between two or more parties that is written and enforceable by law. A covenant is an irrevocable commitment (a permanent bond) made between two or more parties, including God, intended to be a lifelong fruitful relationship, “a coming together” and “sticking together.”  At the heart of covenant relationship is the unconditional love of God, which is the very foundation and heart of the covenant relationship. The difference between covenant and contract is “What can I give?” vs. “What do I get?” It is “I’ll give you 100%” vs. “I’ll meet you halfway.” It is “I want to” vs. “I have to.” It is lawful vs. legal. It could be argued that the latter is of lawyers, the other of God.

A covenantal relationship is one that is built on love and mutual respect. It is other-focused (giving) rather than self-focused (receiving).

Americans used to understand covenants, as the first government in the New World was one of covenant. (Read the Mayflower Compact.) And part of this journey for us all will be a re-discovery of covenantal relationships.

So, when it comes to integrity, confidentiality and security of finances, are you willing to enter a relationship based on covenant rather than contract?

 

#10 – Green Light Clean

Reformation Celebration

The Series

#10 – Green Light Clean

 

The tenth characteristic of the man of God whom we seek is that he will have a proven track record of not being corrupted by finances, power (“authority”), and/or narcissistic lusts, nor of being engaged in determined criminal activity.

This is more than having a good reputation (#8 above); it means that he could actually undergo a financial audit and a criminal background check and get a total green light as being beyond reproach.

Now, one of the things that sets the ecclesia apart as powerful is the fact that we are under God’s law, rather than man’s, so, indeed, some of the areas that men would tend to investigate might be according to man’s frequently-artificial standards of law and money. These artificial standards might even paint some activity that was intended for God’s glory as “criminal.” (For example, if a church elects to organize as a 501(c)(3) non-profit – an unnecessary and unwise election – it is, from that point forward, no longer an independent ecclesiastical body but, rather, a man-made entity subordinate to the state and, as such, may be liable to other man-made laws that could criminalize some of its activities … such as speaking out against things that God clearly identifies as wrong.) And, while we would like to see all of the ecclesia break free from bondage to those sorts of systems, that is not what we are talking about here.

Financial audits and criminal background checks can also turn up things that are indicative of an unrepentant heart. Financial corruption, narcissism, immoral behavior – things that mark a man as serving his own belly, regardless of the backlash on others – all are forgivable by God upon repentance, but before that repentance actually takes place and the life is demonstrably turned around for His glory, they would disqualify one from being the sort of leader whom we seek.

So if a comprehensive background check were done on you, would you pass? Remember, too ~ “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7)

#9 – An Ecclesiastical Networker

Reformation Celebration

The Series

#9 – An Ecclesiastical Networker

 

The ninth characteristic of the man of God whom we seek is that he will possess effective knowledge of Ecclesia networks and friendly contacts necessary to align with established financial/project management vehicles for the rapid advancement of the Kingdom.

Until they come to see that ecclesia is much larger, much more comprehensive, this may look like church, and most believers are, directly or indirectly, affiliated, interact and network with the church world. Ecclesia is much-broader, much more powerful, but part of the process of helping people to recognize and step up into the reality of God’s kingdom here on earth is to start with the places that they currently identify with in that way. The practical reality is that much of the ecclesia doesn’t know of any place to find ecclesia except in church on Sunday morning. These folks network together at church and in various ministries and outreach efforts around the world, and that is how they know each other.

When Paul wrote to the ecclesia at Corinth, at Galatia, at Ephesus, at Philippi, and at Colosse, no doubt they felt honored, as local folk, to get a personal letter from this world-renowned leader. But those letters, more than being personal to them, hinged on their belonging to the ecclesia – the body of Christ at large. And Paul was networking amongst all of them that he knew to be ecclesia.

Businessmen know the business world; lawyers know the court system; doctors know the medical arena; upstanding ecclesia leaders know the ecclesia. Their knowledge extends beyond the First Baptist of B-town, the Second Congregational of C-town, or the Third Presbyterian of P-town. (In fact, they may not even be directly affiliated with any institutional church at all, but they know God’s people – the ecclesia.) They have contacts and good relationships with the ecclesia that extend beyond their own local church, ministry, denomination or religious association. And while they might not be as well-known as Paul was in his day, they could write letters to other local manifestations of the ecclesia and be received as brothers.

So whether it’s in church, out of church, or both, the man we seek knows how to network in the ecclesia. Do you?

#8 – Good Character Reputation

Reformation Celebration

The Series

#8 – Good Character Reputation

 

The eighth characteristic of the man of God whom we seek is that he will have character references (a “good report” ~ Acts 10:22; 22:12; Heb. 11:2,39) from both within and without the household of faith, exhibiting the character traits illustrated as for bishops and deacons as expressed in I Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 1:4-9.

It is common for these passages in Timothy and Titus to be viewed as lists of qualifications for church leaders. But better than seeing them as qualifiers, look at them as descriptors. Paul said, when you’re looking for the elders (as in wiser, older men) whom you can trust to guide you wisely, this is what they’ll look like. It’s not a check-list, per se, where every leader must meet every item and cannot fail to be perfect in any one area (the two lists are not identical, after all), but some areas where good leaders will stand out – in which they will have a “good report,” a good reputation, or a “good name.”

Solomon told us that a good name (a good reputation and respect) is far better than great wealth (Proverbs 22:1) and than precious ointment (Ecclesiastes 7:1). Jesus was known, amongst more than those who followed Him, as one who “went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38)

It has been well said that your reputation is what men think you to be, while your character is what God knows you to be. And while there may be times in one’s life when it is important to remember that distinction, that is not to say that one should not worry about his reputation.

So we are looking for men who are known to others to have high character and a demonstrably honorable reputation. If you had to produce a dozen personal references right now who could testify to the goodness and godliness of your character, from people you associate with or who know you both within and without the arena of faith, could you?

#7 – Ambassador of Christ

Reformation Celebration

The Series

#7 – Ambassador of Christ

 

The seventh characteristic of the man (remember: includes woman) whom we are seeking is that he will understand that an Ecclesia leader is an ambassador of Jesus Christ; therefore, he must strive always towards the building of the Lord’s kingdom and not his own.

For anyone who really knows who Jesus Christ is, who has a bona fide personal relationship with the King of kings, this presents no problem. After all, which is bigger – being the Duke of Twitterville … or being the personal representative / ambassador of the King and Creator of all? Who speaks with the greater authority – the one who represents all of the human trophies and ribbons that he personally has acquired in his earthly life … or the one who speaks with the authority of the King Himself?

Another way to look at it is relative to What’s In It For Me? To the extent that the institutionalized practice of religion is a business, for example, and one goes into it in lieu of another “occupation,” a purely business consideration might be the opportunity cost of putting one’s time into one activity over another, and a man’s gotta eat, right? That is not what we’re talking about here. We are definitely talking about a “lead from the middle of the pack” or “lead by example” kind of scenario where truly this servant leader’s motto is, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) Jesus is the head of this body, and we work together as various body parts that He might have the pre-eminence. (Col. 1:18)

So the reward focus of the man whom we seek is solely on eternity – the heavenly rewards that will accrue to those who hear our Savior say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of thy Lord.”

It is a life-changing thing for one who comes to realize that his single most important assignment on earth is that of being an ambassador for the King of kings. Are you that one?

#6 – Ecclesia Bigger Than Church

Reformation Celebration

The Series

#6 – Ecclesia Bigger Than Church

The sixth qualifier for the man of God whom we seek is that he will be kingdom-minded and understanding that the Ecclesia established by our Lord Jesus Christ transcends the boundaries of any sect, denomination, ordination, organization, occupation, gender, race, ethnicity, calendar or geographical situs.

Some people who are heavily involved in church get quite defensive about it, but that very defensiveness proves that there is some sort of separation between that group and the ecclesia at large. In fact, if you think about it, all that defines a church – be it a denomination, sect, association, local assembly, etc. – just describes ways in which it is separate and apart from the ecclesia at large, or how it is, itself, NOT ecclesia.

The only descriptors used in the New Testament were geographical – the ecclesia that is at Corinth, for example (I Corinthians 1:2): it simply named the location of the specific body of believers that Paul was writing to. Any other definitive descriptors were not of God. (I Corinthians 1:10-14; 3:3-11)

If our enemy can keep us thinking about ecclesia (let’s call it “church”) in terms of one day a week, a particular street address, a building (or buildings) at that address, a sign out front, a name on the sign, a named personality as leader, a particular seminary polishing that leader, a certain denomination behind it all, a pre-planned program of events, the music that we’ll sing and who will sing it and how, a sermon of a certain length and who will deliver it and how, a way that we dress, a way that we talk, the place where we sit, etc., every one of those definitions tightens the boundaries of the ecclesia box for us. It conditions us to think that the ecclesia meets ONLY here where we are and HOW we do it, or at least that it is MORE here than anywhere else. Our enemy is happy for us to put ourselves into a box for a couple hours on one day a week and then for us to leave all that is ecclesia in that box. Then on Monday morning, he hits us with his own systems in all the rest of life: law & government, money & banking, business, healthcare, education, family, the arts, media, etc. along with the idea that we’re supposed to keep “religion” separate from all that. But God is not so limited. He has perfect answers in all of those areas, and His ecclesia comprises His government on earth.

Want to be a part?

#5 – A Damascus Road Conversion

Reformation Celebration

The Series

#5 – A Damascus Road Conversion (of sorts)

The fifth qualifier for the man of God whom we seek is that, if he IS schooled and/or credentialed in counterfeit authority (law, religion, medicine, education, etc.), he must have had a “conversion experience” and have left the counterfeit standard behind (Pr. 28:13).

Like the previous one, this qualification goes on to require a separation from any counterfeit authority base, if not in actual practice and belonging (though it must ultimately come to that), at least in terms of recognition of God’s higher authority and the subordination of the human authority to God’s.

In America we see this idea manifested in organizations like Oath Keepers, in which men in uniform have pledged to uphold the higher principles of the Constitution over illegitimate unconstitutional orders, whether from politicians or ranking officers, that would cause them to violate conscience and higher law.

It’s not saying that one absolutely cannot belong to or associate with these types of “professional organizations,” but it does require a clear recognition of the superiority of that which comes from God (Who, by the way, requires no human institution to represent, carry out or translate His authority).

On the road to Damascus, the very righteous and legal Saul of Tarsus, a ruler in law amongst men, came face to face with the Giver of Law … and chose the Higher Law. He did not turn his back on all other law, as evidenced by the fact that he was later to cite his Roman citizenship for the legal benefit it afforded him at the moment, but it was forever thereafter relegated to second place in his life – behind the Law of God. In similar fashion, we seek those who have had their own Damascus Road conversion experiences, turning from the temporal to the eternal. It doesn’t mean that he has quit living on the earth and breathing earthly air, but that he has tasted of the heavenly and has forever thereafter made the heavenly standard his life choice.

Do you know the difference? Do you know that God has a way in money and law and health and education that is very different from the ways of the world? Or do you believe that just being a good servant of Caesar as for the glory of God is good enough?