I don’t consider the difficult times I face as an opportunity to present myself as a martyr. The times may get tough, but I don’t assume that what I face elevates me to the level of an artificial sacrificial lamb. But make no mistake. Anytime the enemy attacks me - it's personal!
The writer of Hebrews admonished us to consider Christ who endured the cross and despised the shame associated with it (Hebrews 12:2-3). This follows the long list of saints who endured cruel mockings, scourgings, imprisonment, being stoned to death, sawn in pieces, tempted, killed with the sword, were destitute, afflicted, and tormented.
He goes on to say that the world was not worthy of these true martyrs. Their lives were worthy of a good report, even though they never received the promise they sought (Hebrews 11:36-39). This goes back to why I refuse to let difficult times define me as a martyr. Compared to these saints, I don't come close to qualifying.
At the same time, I must be keenly aware of what difficulties mean in my life. On the outside looking in, some things may be considered a streak of ‘bad luck’. But I am learning to be sensitive and discerning when I suddenly face a barrage of calamities.
Over the past year, I have become more aware of Jesus words at Caesarea Philippi. He said that upon the revelation of who He is, He would build His ekklesia. All my Christian life, I thought He said He would build His church. Even after learning of the word ekklesia, I was taught that it was the Greek word for church.
It wasn’t until this past year that I discovered that church is a mistranslation of ekklesia. It was no accident. It was willfully mistranslated by the order of King James. The third of his personal instructions to the translators was to use the word ‘church’ instead of ‘congregation’ (which would have been a closer translation of ekklesia).
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It was the historical understanding of ekklesia that caught my attention. It was more than simply a called out assembly or congregation. In Jesus’ day, the ekklesia was known among the people as an arm of the Roman government with authority to act on its behalf. Although the Romans had borrowed the concept from the Greeks, it clearly understood to be a legislative body. Jesus said He would build His ekklesia with the authority to act and legislate on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven.
By changing ekklesia to church, King James literally changed the trajectory of the Body of Christ. Rather, than being a called-out assembly who act as a ruling council in the earth, they have become an insular conclave of people who huddle in dedicated buildings propped up by sectarian ideas and operational structures through which they defend their beliefs, fight each other and look for ways to survive.
So, I have been sharing the ekklesia/church switcheroo whenever I have had the opportunity. Recently however, my wife and I have been hit with several difficult matters. Each one was painful, difficult to deal with and had the potential of being permanently debilitating. I won’t list them, as it is not my intent to focus on them. There are those who may read this and know of some of these matters, but I pray that you see me moving forward with integrity and grace.
It was about a week ago I mentioned to my wife that these things, seeming to all come at the same time, appeared to me to be more distractions rather than destruction. On the surface, what we are dealing with could happen to anyone. But when they all come within a matter of months, weeks and days of each other, it triggered something in my spirit.
"...what we often think is an attack against us, is in fact an attack on our mission and message"
Whenever you or I begin to move accurately towards God’s purpose, we need to become alert to the tricks of the enemy. If we allow Him to divert our attention from our mission, he can potential destroy or delay God’s work in us. I believe that what we often think is an attack against us, is in fact an attack on our mission and message.
The Gospel of the Kingdom and the understanding of our identity as the Lord’s ekklesia are both critical in this season. I suspect that the devil will use any tactic including family issues, personal health, catastrophic loss, and even religious presuppositions to intimidate and discourage those preaching God’s purposes.
Is it a roadblock or a giant?
In the past, I have taught there is a clear difference between a ‘roadblock’ and a ‘giant’. A roadblock is an inanimate object. It is designed to keep you from taking a particular road.
It can be the loss of a job or being abandoned by allies. It can be a missed opportunity, or being sabotaged by those who don’t like you or your message. A roadblock is not there to keep you from your destination. It only alerts you that a different path needs to be taken.
A giant is a living being. Giants try to intimidate you by both their size and verbal taunts. They shout at you. They mock your abilities. They threaten you. And, they brag on their size and strength. Giants cannot be negotiated with. They must be destroyed. Giants usually appear at the door of your ‘promised land’.
Of all the issues I’ve personally faced, I have identified most of them as giants. Their appearance has challenged my courage, my strength, and tried to make me second guess my actions. But I am clear in my message and purpose - and I will not be deterred.
As of this writing, all my recent issues have not all been resolved. However, I am resolved to press ahead in Jesus Name! I take this personal. I stand on the words of the Psalmist “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles” (Psalms 34:17).
I am encouraged! Are you? I have written this blog to encourage you. There is greatness in you. Don’t let roadblocks or giants keep you from your destiny! Press forward. The victory is ours! TLK
Tim Kurtz is the founder of The Ekklesia Center developed to help believers desiring to pursue New Testament values and structure. He teaches extensively on what the impact the mistranslation of the Greek word ekklesia to the English word church has had on the Body of Christ. He has served in numerous capacities in the 'church system' including being a Pastor for over 25 years. He is the author of several books and the primary contributor to the EKKLESIAInsights Blog. Tim is also the host of Good Morning Ekklesia, broadcast live on Facebook. In these daily Study Starters he provides key information that believers can use to study ekklesia deeper. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in Michigan. They have two adult children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.