Rose of Sharon

rose-386396_640Song of Solomon 2:1: I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. (ESV)

The church is the rose of Sharon.

The focus verse is statement credited to a woman, as she speaks about herself to her beloved in the book of Song of Solomon, which is a book of poetic display of love.

Fast forward to the New Testament, and we see that the relationship between the church and Christ is the ultimate love-relationship. In the book of Ephesian, Paul said that to display his love, Jesus gave his life for the church who submits to him (Ephesians 5:22-33).

In the focus verse, the woman who stands for the church affirms her uniqueness. Similarly, the church needs to be clear about who she is, and since the church contained individuals, there is also the need to identify and affirm our identity individually.

If you do know who you are the problem that leads to is that you try to get what you already have, try to become what you already are. Identity is that important, if reflects who you are and where you are and where you are going.

When God opens your eyes to see Jesus and you are saved, the most important thing is for you to have your eyes to open to see yourself as he sees you. If you do not know who you are, you will not know what to do.

Paul prayed for the church in Ephesians that God will give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, so that we might know the hope of our calling. We need to know our purpose and walk in the purpose we are called to (Ephesians 1:15-22).

Paul also said that we need to walk in the purpose God has set us apart for (Ephesians 2:10). In a parable in the Old Testament, certain trees were asked to be king over others and most said they will rather focus on what they are made for, what they are gifted for, than try on a role foreign to their makeup (Judges 9:8-13).

The church is meant to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). Jesus however warned that if the salt loses its saltines, it is no longer useful expect to be trampled underfoot. Therefore our dominion (opposite of being trampled upon) is based on our being salt.

A salt adds flavour, it is unique and needed, it is useful as preservative; we as salt are useful in association with the people in the world, to change their flavour to ours.

The goal is not to stop engaging with the world in the fear of being polluted. The salt is not afraid that what it comes in contact with will affect it by any means. That is not possible.

The salt is packed with the ability to cause change and it cannot be changed. It has the ability to retain its flavour over a very long time.

The light does not have to be afraid of the darkness. The bible says that the light shines in darkness and paralyses it (John 1:1-5). We are lights and we are called to walk according to that reality (Ephesians 5:8).

If we do not know that we are lights, we will not live like it. Being light and salt is about impact. Jesus said a city set on a hill cannot be hid and no one lights a candle and puts it under a bushel. The church is meant to be displayed both for persecution and admiration (Mark 10:28-39). We are to show the way as the light.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus warned a church that if they do not repent and stop giving a platform for those who push antichrist doctrines, he was going to fight them (Revelation 2:12-17). They might stop existing as a church if they do not start lining up with the truth for which they founded.

The church’s identity should be as the pillar and ground of truth (1Timothy 3:15), and Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). Any deviation and there is a risk of having the candle stick removed, as Jesus said he will do to a church which left her first love (Revelation 2:1-5), misplaced her priority, left her first commitment.

Jesus made a whip and chased out the people in the temple (a physical symbol of the church) who were buying and selling there (John 2:13-16). The temple was turned into a centre of commercial engagement, economics was confused with spirituality, God and Mammon was equated, all manner of extortions were tolerated, as the practitioners played on the people’s desire to serve God. They turned the house of God into something else.

Those who were business savvy, but had nothing to do with God, were feeding off the people’s desire to connect with God, and the leaders of the temple probably get their cut of the profit, and gave cover (even seemingly spiritual/scriptural cover) to this atrocity.

The house of God did not look so much like it. And Jesus said that God said: “my house shall be called the house of prayer for all nations,” adding that they have made it a den of thieves. In that particular case, human activities in the house of God, which compromised its essence, turned it to a den of thieves.

Everything must be done in the church to continue to emphasise its distinctness, to keep the main thing the main thing, and while the mode of expression may continue to evolve, the church must not lose her essence, otherwise, she risks the departure of the Holy Spirit and what will remain will be a dead monument.

For example, the temple where Jesus flogged people out, has now been razed to the ground. It is no longer in existence.

God said, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, and heal their land (2Chronicles 7:14).

The basic components of that verse still applies to the church.

My people: The church is a place populated by the people of God called by his name, not just any human being but those called by his name, and it is followed by humility.

Humbly themselves: In the church humility is elevated is humility. God has chosen the weak things to confound the strong and the foolish things to confound the wise (1Corinthians 1:25-29).

The church is for the down and out and not for those who have all together, it is for those who think they are blind and in need of Jesus to open their eyes (John 9:39-41). And it is a place where the presence of God is activated and celebrated, where the glory of God is manifest. Paul said to the Corinthians church that he does not want to focus on anything in his interaction with them expect on Christ and he crucified. It is all about him.

Pray: The church must emphasise prayer, all shades of it and encourage people to pray (Ephesians 6:18).

Turn from wicked ways: if holiness is not elevated in the church, it is not the church. Period.

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