Thursday, October 10, 2013
I dreamed last night, or more likely early this morning, that I was quoting scriptures about God’s love and purpose for His Collection of People, otherwise known as the Body of Christ, or what we often just dub, the Church. In my dream I was feeling very up and positive with a new determination to see us as God sees us and help speak that into existence. When I woke up, emerging from the fog, I remember quipping that I am going to focus on our bright future and all was going to be okay.
After my cup of coffee I couldn’t help but be curious why I would dream such a thing since it is no longer my habit to pace the living room quoting scriptures in prayer trying to control the universe. Was this my former life resurging itself through my subconscious mind or was the Holy Spirit speaking to me? Dreams have formerly and currently been a vehicle of communication for me so I didn’t want to completely discount this one. The fact it didn’t carry any oppression or confusion with it, but instead I felt rather joyous and hopeful, gives me a cautious green light to explore the subject. I thought to blog about it even if it's just to remind myself later. That's one of the benefits of blogging - whether anyone reads your stuff or not, it's a place to journal.
In letting go of some of my former behaviors because they were rather ‘works’ oriented, I haven’t necessarily thrown out my core beliefs. In this case, I still believe in the power of scripture and I still believe in speaking it out into the atmosphere. But I am no longer compelled by the legalistic concept that there is no power in the scripture unless you speak it out loud. Wouldn’t that mean the power is in my speaking rather than in the power of the scripture itself? Isn’t there also power in ‘hiding the word in my heart so that I may not sin against God’ as David suggests in Psalm 119? Hiding doesn’t convey speaking, but rather storing something like a treasure, or a secret weapon to pull out when you most need it. The Word is what will cause me to overcome temptation. I can think scripture and I can speak it. I can sing it and I can shout it. I can choose whatever ‘method’ of acknowledgement I want, but the power remains in the Word of God itself not in how I manage to agree with it.
Back to the dream, it does stir in me a desire to search the scriptures regarding the Body of Christ – the Bride of Christ - and God’s plan to partner with us. Even as the mega prosperity-driven church world threatens to redefine us and our mission, the Lord must have a plan to reclaim what is rightfully His. In the Old Testament there are plenty of accounts of how His chosen race went off the rails into idolatry, yet He always had a way of rekindling in them a desire to return to Him and worship only Him. Real life isn’t always about the sweetness and light of glory and victory, it’s also failure and defeat and with that, recovery and redemption.
For us, this last decade has been a discovery of how the existing institutional church has gone off the rails into its own idol worship. We have seemed to collectively sanction the exaltation of what is now commonly known, at least in the blog world, as the celebrity pastor. Our church leaders now have to be movers and shakers across the globe in order for us to revere them. If they are among the rich and famous, we can then live vicariously through them. What does this say about us? Why has a spirit of humility and true servanthood been replaced by what looks like the bravado of EGO and a sense of entitlement? There is a steady stream of evidence revealing that huge sums of money are funneled into the ‘lead’ pastor personal bank accounts.
Why do we know this and why don’t these types of pastors think we are smart enough to see what they are up to? Check out their houses (sometimes multiple homes!), their vehicles, their clothes, their jewelry, and most telling, their travel itinerary. What really gives it all away is how the adult pastor children flaunt their lifestyle online. So it’s easythese days to follow the money trail of the celebrity pastor, a lifestyle funded by the tithes and offerings of trusting followers who all give their blessing as they give their money in faith that it's being spent wisely. These pastors are living like CEOs of big corporations with the balance of power mainly in their hands, yet with tax exempt status. Do they realize their lifestyles actually endanger that status, not only for themselves but for the smaller conscientious churches.
All this to say, we can see that the celebrity infested church is on a runaway train to its own destruction and we aren’t going to stop talking about it. But my dream last night could be hinting that there is a new phase in the journey, a bend in the road. It’s been there all along but maybe I am only now waking up to it. Unlike us, God isn’t surprised that the Christian community has given worship status to our pastors. He understands our natural bent toward wanting a human to elevate which reflects our selfishness and how we resist a true life of servanthood. Jesus’ disciples wanted him to act like an earthly king which would have made them feel better about themselves. Thankfully, God doesn’t panic and forget His original plan just because another stiff-necked generation refuses to cooperate. Could He want to remind us each of us who truly care about the outcome, in our own individual ways, that we are part of the plan to get His project back on track? He could do it single-handedly but chooses to work in a partnership with us, His people. It makes sense that He would give each of us tasks as part of the pro-active answer, whether it be prayer, blogging, writing articles or books, singing songs or some other artform – it’s all an opportunity to teach and hopefully turn the tide.
God has been calling people out of the mega church system for quite awhile now and who knows how many more may be leaving in the days and years ahead? That doesn’t mean the mega church world will end - it may only get worse. But, as we pray and seek out God’s thoughts on what is going on, we can forsee the victorious church spoken about in scripture. The Bride of Christ was designed to be God's vehicle of love. And maybe it's not going to be some huge assembly where droves of people receive Christ by responding to an altar call. Maybe it's going to be a world-wide community of believers, sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, sharing the love of God and the Gospel of Christ one-on-one with those led to us - or us to them - however the Lord aranges it. Why should we wait for an exalted man or woman on a stage do all the talking? God wants to use all His yielded vessels, not just public speaker types. Or rock star worship leader types. Not saying He can't use people who are motivated to be in front of the throng all the time, but it's certainly not limited to those types. So all I can do if that is the case is agree with scripture and say Come Holy Spirit and do your thing! We are powerless without you!