At a time when the Church truly needs to come together to war against the prevailing anti-God agenda in this nation, my heart has been captured with a revelation of Christ’s perspective on our process. Even though I’ve read the Scripture many times, it never really sunk in as to how He looks at US; not just ME, but US:
“…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-28 NIV).
Jesus died to save us as individuals, but He is returning for US – corporately – together. I don’t find anywhere in Scripture where it speaks of Him returning for individuals. He is returning for us as a body, fit together, working as one, a corporate Bride for Himself. We should not be entering these spiritual battles out of some quest for personal gain or individual breakthrough. We should be fighting for something much bigger than ourselves. In our rising zeal to overturn the strategies of the enemy, our motivation cannot be for our own sake, but for the sake of HIS BRIDE.
“…I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2 ESV).
What does this mean? It means that until we feel this same divine jealousy over His Bride, we will never have the right heart motivation to come together – and stick together.
The fact is, there are many wounded believers in the body of Christ who have become so disillusioned with “the Church” that they are critical of anything and anyone associated with “organized religion”. Though it’s true that a Religious Spirit has infiltrated our ranks and poisoned many in the Church, we cannot assume that the Church is done. Rather, I believe He is taking us through a divine MAKEOVER that is going to change us so profoundly, we will appear to be entirely new. He is sanctifying us, purifying us, and molding us into the Bride that is truly READY for His return (“…that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the Church to Himself…” Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV).
His part is the cleansing and sanctifying work. Our part is to GET READY: “Let us rejoice and exult and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7 ESV).
It’s up to US to prepare His BODY with all parts working and functioning in a healthy way. It’s up to US to look out for one another to cover, protect, and defend one another – regardless of the part we play. No part is above the other. Even with doctrinal differences and varying opinions about how we exercise our faith, He still expects for us to come together as ONE BODY in ONE SPIRIT.
Let’s get personal. Here’s how His Body, the “Church”, looks to me:
My paternal grandmother was Irish Catholic. My maternal grandparents were Amish. My father was a first generation Christian and my mother was Mennonite. My father became an evangelist who reached out to the homeless and spoke in many denominations through his years. As a youth I attended a neighborhood Evangelical Free Church. My next-door neighbor was a Catholic and my best friend in High School was Methodist. I married a Spirit-filled Mennonite and we went to a Charismatic university (Oral Roberts) where we also interned at a Methodist church. My oldest brother was a cessationist. My oldest sister married a Baptist and my other sister married a Lutheran. My younger brother loves Jesus but doesn’t attend church anywhere.
Can you imagine what our family reunions are like!?
My point is this: “Church” to me isn’t any particular denomination, building or organization. “Church” isn’t just a group of people meeting somewhere on a particular day. Church to me has always been about FAMILY. It didn’t matter what kind of church one attended because I knew they loved Jesus and feared God. Yes, we have doctrinal differences. Yes, we exercise our faith differently. But, No, I never felt like I compromised my own faith and beliefs by loving them and gathering with them. Our essential core beliefs of the gospel were the same.
I have been offended as well as offensive. I have been misunderstood and misaligned. I have been frustrated at seeming spiritual blindness and apathy. But, I’ve also been humbled by their obvious love for God and their acceptance of me. I have never stopped considering them to be part of my family. When the enemy comes against one of them, he’s coming against me! I readily stand in the gap on their behalf because we are all part of the same family. We are all on different journeys, but we are headed in the same direction.
This is what is desperately needed in the corporate Church of America right now. The ability to get rid of the “ME” factor and pick up the “WE” factor. In the end, it’s not about you. It’s about US. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can walk in a grace that empowers us to defeat our enemies together. Christ is returning for a Bride that has become vibrant, full of power and authority, with a mutual love for Him AND for one another.
Let’s get over our wounds from past leadership failures or rejection from groups that didn’t “accept” our gift or perceived anointing. Let’s get past the petty opinions and start warring together on the things that are eternal. The enemy will continue to try and distract us by pointing out one another’s weaknesses and failures. It’s up to us to be so consumed by a Bridal Love, we quickly go to those parts that are weaker in order to cover and protect one another from attack and accusation.
“On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment” (1 Corinthians 12:22-24 NIV).
There is a more excellent way. It is recognizing and embracing a Bridal Love that ignites our hearts and enables us to get past our personal issues to embrace a higher call. It’s the call of the Bridegroom who waits for His Bride to prepare herself and get ready for His return.