The Sleeping Giant
My heart has been heavy lately. By heavy, I mean I've felt maybe a tiny bit of the burden God's spirit carries for this broken world. He would never let any one individual carry the entirety of his burden. Our human heart could not handle it. It was interesting how the burden I felt changed as I prayed. First, I felt the weight of so many hurting, lost people around me. I prayed for them, asked for a fresh revelation of who Jesus is to those who have dulled senses, who only see and hear and act through their swollen, infected wounds.
But then my burden shifted.
Somewhere along the way, I felt the tug from the Holy Spirit to pray for the church, the Bride of Christ. I can only speak of what I know. I don't know what it means to live in a violent place where I might die for my faith. I know, though, that there are some who do..and they are purified, beautiful and holy before Jesus. They die for him and they enter the gates of Heaven radiating light and clothed in spotless white. I prayed for them, that they would stand strong, be filled with God's spirit and know his love in ways I do not. It was the church of America, though, that I felt the nudge to pray for. So I did. The Holy Spirit gave me two words to describe our church here, in this nation...
I look around, and I see so much that is broken in our church, in our way of doing things. I experienced some of the brokenness of our philosophy growing up, so I get it. I understand how what we know can cloud our view, change our filter...and how we can really, truly, honestly believe that what we say we know is really what is right. I did that for a long time.
Then grace found me.
When grace found me, I was a sleeping giant. I was a dreamer not awakened, a listener not listening, a lover not loving. I was a broken soul that didn't understand but knew how to pretend that I understood. I was very good at keeping track of the list of rules I thought made me holy. Grace turned me upside down, though. Jesus became someone I didn't know, someone I had to meet all over again. The Holy Spirit became a new voice, one I had not heard before. The enemy is good at making himself sound like God, making us think his voice is the voice of God. I realized with crystal clarity that I had been hearing the wrong voice...and following.
I had been listening to the wrong voice.
So, I started over. Literally, I became a baby follower of Jesus. I opened the word of God and it began to radiate truth I had never seen before. I began having conversations with God as if he were sitting across the table.
I could literally feel him smiling at me.
I still feel this way, like a baby follower, and I feel him smiling at me all the time, like a proud Papa. I haven't even scratched the surface of what grace is, how Jesus changes a soul. I will never fully understand, never have a three point message that lays out all the truth of Jesus.
How could anyone ever fully explain limitless, endless and forever?
This is the new me, the me that lets the Holy Spirit grieve inside of me, lets him be first, and me second. This is the new me, the me that is constantly asking the Holy Spirit to show me how to love like Jesus. There is only one thing that I have definitely figured out, one thing I really do know to be true.
Love is the only thing that changes a soul.
I have yet to meet a person who is set on fire for Jesus because they have been given a list of demands to meet. Demands insight fear, speak of nothing but punishment. Grace is different, though. Grace has taught me that I'm loved first, before I obey or disobey. So then, I look at the commands of Jesus, the ones he gave as he spoke of freedom and love and hope...I look at those, and I desire to follow, to do what he asks.
Because he proved himself trustworthy.
So, this is where I find myself, as I pray for the church of America. I find myself praying for a revelation of grace because I know...I know that if we can get that one thing, if we can let that one thing set our soul on fire...
everything will change.
If our church, the one right here in our country, if she can catch the fire of grace, we will see God's spirit move like a mighty wind among us. If we can, ourselves, let Jesus heal the wounds on our own souls, we will see something miraculous begin to happen. If we can make this a family thing, instead of a power struggle, we will see dry bones come to life. We are a church of resources. We have more at our disposal, more freedom than any part of Jesus' Bride on the planet. We are innovators, bold, willing to take on a challenge.
None of this is by accident, and the enemy knows it.
So what does he do? He lulls us to sleep with lies of complacency and comfort. He tells us that the level of commitment Jesus wants is minimal at best, that as long as we show up on Sunday, we have the favor of God on our lives. He tells us that if we just make a stand on our Facebook page, that we don't have to actually go out into the streets and talk to people...
Jesus wouldn't ask that of us.
I learned something from growing up in Europe. I learned that eating is an art. They enjoy dining together and when they do, whether at a home or a restaurant, they spend hours together. The experience is not just about filling their bellies, but they fill their hearts with laughter, with fellowship, they fill up on being together.
What if we made our mission to be together? What if we invited strangers into our homes, gave our neighbors our best? What if we made it our mission to find the ones we don't see eye to eye with, the ones who are supposedly against us, and invited them to be together with us?
What if we filled up on being together?
I know, it doesn't sound like it will work. It doesn't sound like something a giant does...but everything Jesus says to do is backwards from what we think we should do. Jesus spent his entire ministry surrounded by people who didn't agree with him and I wonder...is that what we do?
Or do we spend our time surrounded by our own?
We do need each other. We need to come together as a family, the Bride of Jesus, and celebrate. We need to be together, too. But when we come together with each other and never make room for the outsider in our midst,
we become a country club.
It gets messy when we start inviting outsiders in. It gets messy when we start inviting those who are not like us, who haven't really found grace yet. It gets really messy...
but Jesus' whole life was messy.
He didn't have a tidy little ministry that only came together once a week to celebrate that he had finally showed up. Day in and out, he was with the people.
With the people.
He laid out a mobile church, a church that didn't need a temple to worship. He switched it all up and instead of sitting at the temple, waiting for the people to come find him, he went and found the people. He laid out a church that looked for the worst of the worst, the lowliest of the low...and he said, "Let's go there and celebrate." And you know what?
He found the people, and the people begged to be included in what he was doing, in what he was saying. Sure, there were those who didn't like it and walked away....but that didn't stop him.
So, I wonder...what can we do different, Church? I sensed, as I prayed for our sleepy church, that there is a sense of hopelessness, that maybe it is all too big and too bad for us be able to make a difference. Can I present to you perhaps the only truth you need to light the fire of hope again?
Jesus was one man.
Yes he was God, but he was man too, so he proved that man can do great things. What if we woke up from our slumber, church? What could we do for the kingdom of God if we came together? What would happen if we let the fire of grace catch each of our hearts and we walked in it? We are a sleeping giant, but if we were to come awake and allow the Holy Spirit to purify us, to truly dwell among us...what would happen?
I don't pose these questions as someone who knows the answers. Grace has shown me that I really know nothing, and that freedom is not found in my knowledge but in my surrender. What if we surrender our platforms, our homes, our jobs, our very lives to the call of Jesus? Will we be the generation that sees dry bones come to life?
The world is waiting, church...the broken, hurting, lost world is waiting for us to come and find them...
to find them and bring them home...