A Mega-Shift in the Church?
I woke up this morning to an article emailed to me by my Dad, which I saw last night, but did not read for some reason. This is the link to the article:
I saw the book, Mega Shift, about 3 or 4 years ago, and my Mom has actually read it. It deals with the shift the Body of Christ is experiencing this very moment. That shift being a fast and dramatic drift from modern, Mega-Church Christianity, to pure-bred, biblical, apostolic, book of Acts, Christianity. Don't see it? You believe that it is only happening in Eastern countries like China, and larger portions of Africa? If you think that, and do not believe it is also happening here in America, than you are sorely mistaken. Or perhaps you just don't know what I am talking about. Allow me to explain my families personal experience concerning this matter.
My Dad's Words With the Spirit
For a long while my family and I went to what can be considered now as being a Mega-Church. No names need to be mentioned, but we went to this building for 10 years of my life every Sunday. So when I speak of the Mega-Church mentality, I know what I am talking about, I lived in it. I was a part of it.
One Sunday, a Sunday I suppose that will live on eternally in my families eyes, my Dad received a word from the Lord. Now my Dad, that humble man, says he does not hear from the Holy Spirit much, and whether he does or not does not matter in this case, because he just happened to hear Him this day, and what he heard changed our lives forever.
As the Pastor was speaking, he started mentioning the events of his past weekend. He said that he had a wonderful time gardening with a brother in the Church, and appreciates the fellowship he had with him, more or less. At this, my Dad said to the Lord, "Lord, why don't I have a relationship with my Pastor like that?" The Holy Spirit replied to him in a small, still voice, "What do you need him for?" My Dad responded in a shocked way, "Well what do you mean Lord, he is my Pastor, Am I not supposed to have a relationship with him?" The Spirit of the Lord said, "You don't need him, you need me." My Dad was heart struck at this moment, but it was the next word from the Lord that changed our lives. The Lord simply said out of nowhere it seems, "Meet in your home." Dad then asked, "Well what do we do Lord?" In a profound way, the Lord ended his words with my Dad by saying, "Just show up...and I will show up."
Back to the Home
At this point, my family and some friends from that particular church began to gather in the home. There is something funny about the home, and I quote one of my favorite authors, G.K. Chesterton:
"Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks."
Why would the Holy Spirit wish for us to go where there is no worldly rules or regulations? If there is one thing I have learned about the Lord in the past 2 years it is this: if you try to set boundaries, structures or limitations with Him (which simply means staying within your own comfort zone) He will test you to see if you are willing to go outside those boundaries for Him (which means stepping out in Faith). What I mean is that in the home, there is liberty for the Lord to move uninhibited, in comparison to the structured "sunday church" setting that will usually allow for nothing outside of the structured routine. Now don't misunderstand me, I believe the Lord has His purpose for larger churches, who am I to say He does not? I am simply saying that this is what the Lord brought our family to, and this is why I believe He brought us to that specific place. He brought us here (or there depending on where you are at in comparison to me ;) so that He could move freely. He brought us into the home so that we could know each other more intimately, instead of standing up 2 minutes before service starts and greeting your neighbor awkwardly. Most people hate that part, but I believe the Lord wants that to be the main aspect of His Church. The Lord wants awkward moments! He wants us to feel uncomfortable for His sake. Do we truly believe the apostles were comfortable in their torture? No, of course not! But they took it anyways for the sake of the Lord. In the home, you face the prospect of having to reveal your true face, which is a terrifying prospect indeed. For what else do we do when we wake up for "church", but put on our best faces (some in a literal sense with makeup) and say everything is okay? In the home you do not have this luxury. I have always thought it strange that humans tend to treat their family members more harshly than they treat strangers. I am extremely guilty of this. Why is that? Perhaps it is because our families know who we truly are, and we frankly do not like that. Thus, when we meet new people, it gives us the opportunity to start afresh with whatever image we wish to be seen as in the eyes of our new acquaintance. But when we return home and see our families, we are still the same people, with the same sinful nature, and the same faults that the new person simply has not seen yet.
Our Experience in the Home
When we first came into the home, the older generations who joined us immediately sought to find the strictest form of structure. Questions arose like, "Is this a Bible study?" or "Does the church know about this, and is the Pastor okay with it?" These questions were to be expected. But when people begin to say, "Be careful of doctrines of Demons," that is when you are truly tested. Yet, if the Lord tells you to do something, do you just stop doing it because people get uncomfortable? No. You press on to the goal, and you bless those who curse you, and pray for them all the more. And truly, you must do that, because the Spirit of the evil one will try to come in and bring resentment and unforgiveness at any time the opportunity presents itself. He will try to bring in that sectarian spirit which says that we are better than someone else because we do it this way, and you don't. But that is wrong.
The Lord has brought us through trials and tests in the home and we are still there. He is continually shaping us into who He wants us to be in His eternal plan, and who are we to stop Him? The home, we have seen, gives us the ability to grow in His sight together. That is because of a certain mentality though, a certain spiritual "perception" that one must have in order to grow in that type of environment spiritually. By meeting in the home, and allowing the Spirit to live and breathe in that atmosphere freely, you open yourself up to a lot of discomfort and heat. You allow your soul to be magnified and examined in the Light of Christ. I would now like to tie this into another idea that the Lord gave me a while back.
The Reality of Perception
The Lord revealed to me the idea of the "Reality of Perception". What I mean by that is the truth that light reveals depth through perception, and darkness hides it. The darker things are, the more skewered the image is, and the brighter things are the clearer the image is. In a world of darkness and shadows, it is very possible that things are not as they always seem, due to the fact that the "reality of perception" is not always there. What happens is imagination takes over, and one begins to imagine what is in the dark, and creates images in ones mind as to what is exactly in the dark, when in "reality" nothing is even there to begin with, or if there is something, its not as big as it seems. As the light reveals the true state of the world by blotting out the darkness, the enemy loses grip on the world, because the reality of perception returns. What I mean by this is a shadow can cause a tree to look 10 times larger than what it really is, and when the light enters, it can reveal the tree in its true form. The darkness manipulates the image through the perception of the mind, and the light sets the object back to its former, real, or absolute self.
The Paradox of the Light
The Lord revealed an interesting concept to me while I was playing with a flash light once... I find it strangely paradoxical that the further light is from something, the wider it becomes, and the dimmer that light is as well; on the other hand, the closer it is to an object the more confined it is, but it also becomes a brighter and stronger light. So even though it may be wide spread, it is weak, but when it is confined to a smaller area, it is strong. It is like the concentration of light which burns through a leaf, due to the heat of the sun, magnified through an object. It could also be said that it is the concentration of the love of God, which is magnified in the reflection of himself, through Jesus, that reveals the true light that burns through the hearts of man. I also believe that this concept can be applied to the state of the Church today; sure many may see the light, but it so wide spread in a way, that it is contradictory to the scripture that says the path is narrow. The smaller the Church is, the more powerful the Church will become; and if the Church acquires this power, which it must, then that power will widen the narrow gap of salvation, and then the Church will truly grow. What allows the light through the magnifying glass to burn the leaf, is the source of the light itself, the sun. In order to burn the seal of God onto the hearts of men, a man must first have the magnifying glass or the reflector of that light, Jesus, and must also know where that power comes from in the first place, our Father-God. It is the concentration of the light of God in one's own heart that brings the brightness needed for all the world to see.
To tie that idea in with the idea of the "reality of perception"...When the sun is at its highest point in the sky, and its strongest point of concentrated light, what happens? Shadows disappear. When it is high noon the shadow is gone. When the light of the sun is concentrated directly on top of us, and is confined to that specific path or direction, it destroys the perception of shadows. All is revealed at high noon, and the reality of perception is in full effect. All can be seen that is not hidden, yet at this point, even that which is in hiding finds it hard to escape the light, which bares upon it directly from above.
The conceptual idea of the reality of perception and the paradox of the light, in order to be a practicable, or rather a realized truth, must be deduced to the individualistic mentality. As said before, in order to have a full realization of the reality of perception, one must have an entire illumination of the object which is being viewed; this being provided by the light. The symbolization within the first chapter of Genesis concerning light in the day and and light in the darkness is dramatically pertinent to this idea:
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth." (Genesis 1:14-17, KJV)
The symbolization lies within verse 16:
And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. (Genesis 1:16, KJV)
The light of the sun is a greater light than that of the moon. Yet the moon receives its light from the sun. The sun is a symbol of the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ. The moon is a symbol of the Bride of Christ, His Church. In order for the moon to shine fully, it must be in a direct position to receive complete light from the sun. In order for the Church to shine fully, it must in direct position, spiritually, to receive life, or light, from Christ through His Spirit. An ironic fact about the moon that I find incredible is that only one side shines, and the other side is eternally dark. The moon has a face, and its face is always looking towards the light, and away from darkness. That is the perfect picture of what the Bride is to do! We are always to be looking unto our source of light, Christ, and we must always turn our face from the darkness that dwells in and around us. One last note on the moon; it is above the earth, meaning it takes a higher perspective than the world does, and sees things in a different way, much like Christians take a different view on the events of the world, and the world itself, than those of the world would. Jesus comments on the state of His Bride:
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:14-15)
Now, delving further into the example of the leaf; in order for the light that is reflected from the sun to burn the leaf, it must have a longer concentration of light on the object, which in turn creates heat. The light is what causes the heat to burn the leaf, and change its chemical, and physical composition; it is turned to ash. It is, therefore, transformed.
Applying this to the individuals, whom make up the body of Christ, or the Church, is simple. The reality of perception, in order to be complete reality, must have complete light shed upon it, and no shadows can be present to manipulate the image. The light of the sun, which destroys darkness, reveals true images through the magnitude and power of its rays. The power of those rays that shoot and spew out from that large star, is what burns the leaf. If a shadow were to pass in front of the magnifying glass, while one was trying to burn the leaf, the light would lose its effect, because the intensity of that light is lessened by the shadow. The glory of God is the light which is reflected from the individual, just as it was the light which was reflected from Christ here on Earth. Christ lived in the light of the high noon sun, and the full glory of God pressed down directly upon him. He did not mince the light by living partly in the shade to find comfort from the heat on his brow, rather he lived consistently in the direct heat of His Father's glory. He looked upon the world with no shadows to manipulate his vision...he saw it in its true form.
Christ saw the separation of the realm of light and the realm of shadow. He had a full realization of the reality of perception. The light of God was directly on his heart, with no shadow to lessen its glorifying effect. The individuals who call themselves Christians are meant to take after the example of Christ, as being a reflector of God the Father's light, which is in turn life. Jesus Christ allowed himself (his soul and flesh) to be burnt in the glory of God. He himself was the blistered man for our sakes.
Living in the Concentrated Light of God
Living a life in the concentrated glory of God has a few implications; first: concentration means, by definition, a boundary, translated therefore, into a life with boundaries. If one is to step out of the concentration of the light, one is stepping out of the power of God, and into the realm of shadows. By living a life mixed with light and shadow, one loses the full effect of the power. Remember that the concentration of light is what causes the heat, and the heat is what causes transformation. This could also be stated as, living a life with boundaries is what brings the power of God, and the power of God is what transforms the heart. But one shadow can cause the light to break and the heat to cease, and one sin can cause the power of God to lose its purpose in your life.
Secondly, the concentrated glory of God implies discomfort, and also transformability. A blacksmith needs his metal to be at a high temperature in order to mold it into the shape he imagines it is going to be. In order for the the Christian to transform, he or she needs to be directly in the light of God. The more concentrated the light is on that person, the more heat, or power that person will receive. The more heat, or power that individual has, the more malleable he or she will become. If God is the blacksmith, then He will shape us into what he wills us to be, but only if we choose to stand in the concentration of the glory, to become hot enough for us to be molded into a specific shape. This also means God holds the hammer. He tosses and turns us, slams and pounds us, molds and shapes us; the discomfort of living in the light. Yet, once the blacksmith is finished, He has a beautiful, sharp, double-edged sword, which can cut through the darkness, and reveal the true light and glory of the creator. And the Armor of Light has been molded and placed onto you to fit your exact needs.
God's Glory in Comparison to Man's Glory
It is the reality of perception and the paradox of the light that culminates the reality of the state of the Church and the individual parts of the body of Christ. Living in the light and in the shadow ultimately means living in two different realms, and serving two different masters. If the greater light rules the day, and the lesser light rules the night, where does the false light of Satan dwell? Perhaps his light is the light we believe we created ourselves. His light is our own glory, which translates into his glory. Our glory is not God's glory. When man glorifies himself, he shines no brighter than the new moon. But when man lets the Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, by His spirit glorify him, that man shines like the Full moon. The Armor of Light will look like the sun to those who only see darkness. If the "Christian" chooses to live in both the Father's glorious light and man's false light (which is simply Satan's), then imagination distorts perception, and the truth is nothing more than a con. To live within the boundaries of the narrow light of salvation is to know the truth. Staying within the light of God or stepping out from under it into the shadow is the ultimatum the entire Church faces, and if we choose to mix shadow and light, the only reality in the end, is death. Remember, the light, which is Jesus, is a gift:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17, KJV)
In Relation to the Blistered Man
To tie this in with the concept of the Blistered Man is quite simple. Jesus Christ allowed himself (his soul and flesh) to be burnt in the glory of God. He himself was the Blistered Man for our sakes. He dwelt within the full light, with no shadow being present, which led to an intense concentration of God's love and Spirit to be manifested within him. The paradox of the light in relation to Christ is that the light of the world was within One man, not in several. It was concentrated in a small area, His flesh, which allowed for that light to burn all the brighter. Then the light spread rapidly in small pockets from home to home, town to town, country to country. The early church lived within the full glory of God, because of Christ's gift to the world, The Helper. But what happened was the merger between the true light and the false light. Enemies got into the Church and tried to structure it, and create a hierarchical system, where man's glory reigns instead of The Father's through His Son Jesus. The light became, in a way, too wide spread, and became more feint, and less powerful. Blistered men, truly burnt by the Spirit of God, were found, yet rarely. One would have assumed that the true light of Christ disappeared altogether, yet in the homes of true believers, that flame was still burning. Does this flame still burn bright today, as it did throughout the history of the Church? I believe it does. I pray it does.
More to follow in the next post, God willing.
Blessings in Christ Jesus.