Who Do You Love?
“What church do you go to?” That is the most loaded question in the culture of religion and denominations. Guess what!? It’s time to start asking a different question. It’s time you knew that “You are the church!”
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)
A popular author writes, “Very few have ever risen above worshipping the temple of the Lord, so that they can truly worship the Lord of the temple.”
It wasn’t always this way. My husband and I were very involved in church with our own ministry and music and programs and… well, we were such good Christians that we practically lived at the church. But I was tired and dissatisfied and I felt a longing for something more in my relationship with Christ. Then I heard The Sermon that set me free to walk a different road, hand in hand with Jesus.
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).
I felt as though I was being invited to embark on a mystical journey that most believers I knew had avoided because of the level of difficulty. To walk the ancient path I had to give up everything, including my status in the church–and I was on my way to becoming someone. But Jesus… Jesus is a jealous lover and He wants all of me. He wants all of you.
As if to stress His point, during the same sermon Jesus spoke to the deepest part of me,
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7: 22-23 NIV).
They were actually performing miracles and driving out demons in Christ’s name– serious evidence of knowing God according to many doctrines taught in the church today, but our Lord said, “I never knew you.” How many times do we consider these acts as fruit in a person’s life, thinking they are holy and close to God? They even prophesied in Christ’s name! The prophecy may have even been right on BUT they did not know God. So whose authority were they acting upon: God’s or their own?
We have to be sober in what we do and say. In the days to come we must understand that we can’t believe every miracle we “see” as an act of God. Even Jesus, was tempted to act in his own authority:
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. (Matthew 4:8-10)
“How do I know you in a way that you do not refuse me, God?”
All I know is at that moment I wanted to know God in that way… intimately, personally, with nothing and no one between us. Nothing! In the next month, God granted my request. On an ordinary Sunday, an altar call was made for missionaries, and even before the call my husband and I knew we were to go forward. Although the call was for missions, we knew it was something more; beyond the language of doctrine. As we knelt and wept before God, I felt a physical cutting away as though we had been cut from a Matrix of sorts. Could this be right? A week later an answer arrived in the form of a dream.
I’m standing in the middle of a beautiful citadel ornately decorated with purple linen drapes and stained-glass windows. The citadel is circular and people are walking and communing around the hub of the citadel. The people are dressed in fine clothing and all of the furnishings are golden and mahogany. I am standing with a friend from my past and a friend from my present. As they are discussing doctrine, I see an angel walking around the citadel.
My heart leaps as I see the angel and I leave my companions and follow it around the citadel. The angel stops near my friends, looks at me, and then turns toward one of the windows that are open on the lower level. The angel removes the window screen. Astonished, I turn to my friends and say “Do you realize what this means!?” Even though they are watching it, they continue on in their discussion about doctrine as though nothing is occurring, and they take no notice of my comment. I return to my day bed where I have been sleeping, and I stuff my things into a canvas bag: a shawl, my bible, and my shoes.
I return to the window and see the angel outside beckoning me. I take one last look and see greeters welcoming even more people into the citadel. I climb out the window with my things, and I am surprised to see tall green grass and no moat at all. I run toward the angel and stumble on the path where people are flocking toward the citadel. I am concerned about these people and observe the greeters as they welcome people into the citadel but do not allow anyone to leave. I hear a voice soothing my worries and assuring me that they will have the same opportunity. Then I notice the pain in my feet. I have mismatched socks on my feet and as I carefully remove them I notice they are bloody and changing into hind’s feet. As I replace the socks on my feet, I hear the most beautiful song being sung in the distance, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” I can see mountain ridges as the sun is setting, and I know the music is coming from there. I carefully rise to my feet, dust myself off, and awkwardly begin my journey away from the citadel and into the wilderness. Then I awake from my dream.
Six months later, after going before the church board and leaving we found a group of believers who were looking for the unmitigated voice of God. God stripped us of our false identities and filthy rags of self-importance and self-righteousness and gave us new robes of humility. It was painful; a time in my walk steeped in a romance with God like I had never experienced before. Why is this important today?
It hurts to be torn down and built back up again. It is a humbling process and so many popular doctrines preach against pain and poverty and encourage a manipulative name-it-claim-it painless doctrine. I have found that pain and poverty is the place where the greatest wealth has been hidden. Be warned, however, our adversary will use any doctrine to keep you from knowing God and convince you that you have the power to get all that you need. That is why knowing Christ is so important. Get ready, church, because we are headed into a season spoken of in Matthew 24. We are about to see the metaphorical and literal temples destroyed so that the bride can come out of her chamber and at last embrace her groom.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”
The stones of doctrine, ministry, money, missions, self-made-miracles, church business-models and the like will get between you and Christ. He is enough of a gentleman to remove those obstacles—but He is not like Satan, forcing himself onto us or forcing His will. He waits for us to say “yes.” However, sometimes God must remove us from those things and take us into the wilderness to find the relationship He always intended:
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her (Isaiah 2:14).
You must know Him and His voice to survive in these last days. How can that happen when so many other voices are rallying for your affection? The metaphor is twofold: since we are the church, we also are the stones that will be “thrown down.” Why would God do that? So He can rebuild His Church the way He intended, the bright radiant bride who loves Him more than doctrine, more than ministry, more than life itself! He is longing for a bride who is ready for her husband with only One affection and One desire: Jesus!
A great falling away must happen, not from the faith but from the idols of denomination, tradition, personal status, and business. Repent now so you can fall into the arms of the One who loves you, the One who promises to teach you all things (John 14:26), the One who tires from so many taking His place on the arm of His bride, the One who pursues you (Luke 15:8, Matthew 18:12), the One who refuses to let something or someone else steal your gaze.
Doctrines and traditions once served us, for healing and deliverance and even learning. There was grace to enter into a doctrine of choice that comforted, that felt safe, but that time has passed. Today shepherds, prophets, pastors, and apostles you must gather your sheep into the fold of Christ with Jesus as our resting place.
My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray [to favorite places of idolatry] on mountains [that seduce]. They have gone from [one sin to another] mountain to hill; they have forgotten their [own] resting-place. (Jeremiah 50:6 AMP).
Nothing else matters now. The bride of Christ must come together without division. Your choice is clear: love a church and its doctrine, or love Christ. Doctrine can be used so easily to lead us into following someone with political and miraculous status. Don’t do it!!! Follow Christ!
“Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (Song of Solomon 8:4 NIV). God is Love (1 John 4:8), my brothers and sisters, and He desires this love to be aroused now! The ancient path is here–know Christ. Go to Him now. It’s not too late; the hour is short.