I have a weight in my soul that I would like to share with you. I carry in me a vision of the Church triumphant. It is an image of every Jesus follower unbound by sin, fully worshipping our Creator. People are really alive in this image. There is no guilt or shame over their past. There is no fear or anxiety over the present or the future. There is just a full, no-obstacles-in-the-way joy. I love this image because it represents a finish line of sorts for me. I want to say when the Body reaches this plane then we can reach the world around us. But if I said that I’d be wrong. The beauty of the Church is not found in her perfection but in her struggle. The joy of the Church doesn’t remain hidden until it is free but is known in her bondage. The life of the Church isn’t something we have to wait to experience in Heaven. The mission of the Church isn’t something that is embarked upon once we arrive.
This image of the Church triumphant is one that will be seen only in Heaven. We cannot wait until we feel ready to engage the mission of the Church. A disciple is ready to move with Jesus within minutes of first meeting Him. The Church should not hesitate to send believers as soon as they arrive on the scene.
For years we argued this was too messy. “You catch them and we’ll clean them!” is the mantra many Sunday School teachers shared with me over the years. I love the idea of training believers but it begins to break down once we’ve been in training for years and still haven’t begun to move forward with Jesus.
We have a faulty idea of discipleship that has gripped the Church. It is rooted in fear and laziness and resembles almost nothing of the faith we see and hear Jesus calling the disciples to shoulder. We teach so people will move with Jesus. We do not teach for the sake of imparting information. We preach so people will join Jesus in His Kingdom work. We do not preach to entertain, make people feel good, because we are paid to do so or to convince folks to do something they don’t want to do. We worship because we’ve been commanded to do so and there is joy in the process, not because we like or don’t like the songs. In other words the only thing in the Church that involves your personal preference is your choice to move with Jesus or not.
As I’m writing this I think I sound a little harsh. But I don’t mean to be harsh at all. I have nothing but love in my heart for the Church. This isn’t weighing on me because I want to get my way more often or because I have some special project I want to see accomplished. It has NOTHING to do with me. I have a growing, deep desire to please Jesus. I don’t want my primary response to Him to be based on how I feel, the song I just heard on the radio or the movie I watched last night. I want to move with Jesus because He is worthy of my life and longings and because He has invited me to do so. We don’t need another reason and we don’t need more time. We need to move.
Lately I’ve been reading the word “all” in Scripture with more pause. I want to love Jesus with ALL my heart, mind, soul and strength. I want to trust in the Lord with ALL my heart and acknowledge Him in ALL my ways. So why do I hesitate? Why do I do less than it takes? One word: SIN. It’s been a part of me since birth. But that does not mean I should surrender to it. Paul says “I beat my body so that after preaching to others I might not be disqualified.” But my sin is not my greatest concern. Jesus has already taken care of that. My holiness is my greatest desire and my most often prayed for request.
Will you begin to consider the Body of Christ as more than a part of your schedule? Will you join me in asking the Lord to draw you into Himself in a deeper, more real way? If so, ask Him to teach you to deal with His Spirit instead of focusing on your sin. Ask Him to show you purpose in His Body as more than just a place to sit and sing on Sundays. His heart for His people can be yours/ours, if we ask Him. I’m ready. Are you?