I've been learning a lot about the church recently and as I shared before, I feel the Lord is redeeming my view of His Bride. Learning is a good thing, but can be so painful at times and inflict some serious blows on my pride. Seeing the bitterness and anger I've held against the betrothed of Christ and the body I'm a part of has caused me loads of grief.
Recently I listened to a podcast from Rock Harbor Church. The pastor, Todd Procter made a comment that really shook me and caused me to reevaluate many of my actions. He said,
"...everyone's talking about the white house. And here's another newsflash: God's plan to save the world isn't the next president. Can I tell you that? And it's not that this isn't an important thing for us as Christ followers to pray over and participate in. But that's not the big picture, you guys. The big picture and God's plan to save the world, is the church. [The church] carries the name of Christ, is empowered by the Holy Spirit, and that's what what we're here to do. That's our identity--to worship God in ways that takes us way beyond these gatherings, way beyond the songs, to wake up the world to who He is. And the kind of worship that's going to get their attention isn't songs. It's the justice, it's the service, it's the compassion, it's the mercy."
Somewhere along the way, I've given up hope on the church. I got overwhelmed in the theological debates, rules, elaborate buildings, and I got tired of dreaming of what the church is supposed to be, because it didn't seem to me that we'd ever get there.
I spent a few days last week with a very dear friend from college. She is the friend I always have in depth conversations with about all things controversial. And more often than not, our perspectives are different, so I usually leave feeling I've learned a lot. God, in His grace, used our time last week to allow me see things differently.
Elizabeth and I spent the first few hours of our time together talking about the war in Iraq, the white house, etc. She's in the army and spent 16 months in Iraq, and is hoping to return sometime this fall. (Yes, I said hoping. She told me she wants to go.) Seeing things through her eyes is so dramatically different than seeing it through the eyes of Egyptians, or Obama, or McCain. Elizabeth also has a love for and commitment to the Bride of Jesus that I rarely see in most people. She'll be the first to acknowledge shortcomings, but loves the Bride all the same. She wore a shirt one day that said, "Don't go to church. Be the church." It's great seeing someone wear those letters and knowing she's really doing it.
We spent last Thursday day trying to solve the world's problems: poverty, starvation, AIDS, education, clean water, terrorism, disunity, guns, etc. I explained to her how I think our country should be doing more to help solve these issues, and Elizabeth, in a strong and passionate voice said, "The only reason the government is doing any of this is because the church isn't."
And then it all came to me. I'd put my hope in the wrong thing. I'd started advocating in the government and expecting it to change the world, when the hope for the world is in Jesus Christ. God is HEALER, RESTORER, REDEEMER and He will not allow any government or entity to get His glory. The church is the one who is His hands and feet. We should be the first to do all of the things we're complaining the government isn't doing well enough. If someone is in need or not cared for, it's because WE, the church, aren't providing.
So, from this point on, my outcry is no longer going to be my name on a petition or a check box next to a presidential candidate (though I do believe they have a place of importance), but it will be with my body of Christ: the church and bride that I am a part of. God will use us to love and change the world, because He longs for all people to know Him. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:10).
Amen. Come Lord Jesus.
"Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forgot to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb. 13:1,2