P.O. Box 95
Broadway, VA 22815
Eyes to See and Ears to Hear
December 18, 2010
This past year I have been engaged in a battle for vision. What is versus what should be. As born again believers in Jesus we live in the tension of the heavenly and the earthly. The possible by faith and the reality of— it is what it is. What is our perspective these days? Have you stopped to consider: what in the world is the church doing? I have come to see there is something called opposition. Opposition can be many things to many people. It can be blocked goals, disagreement or most likely simply differentiation of goals and ideals. The church needs to name it for what it is; an obstacle to overcome. As I look out to the horizon of 2011 unfolding it will be a year the body of Christ will begin to consider and even experience what it means TO OVERCOME.
During the past few years I have been reunited with a former passion— the world economic markets and the realms of investing. I forgot how much I enjoyed the complexity, unpredictability and excitement of the markets. In training myself to be a trader I hooked up with Hedgeye Risk Management who produces a daily blog on macro economic models and evaluation of market risk. The founder Keith McCullough and his staff have wonderful analysis and through this I have been hearing a variety of applications.
On a previous Hedgeye page Peter Drucker was quoted as saying, “Every organization must be prepared to abandon everything it does to survive the future”. Keith also inserted that “we must be prepared to abandon our theoretical models and assumptions”. A traditional method of investing has been long term or buy and hope. Hope is not an investment construct says Keith. Hope is dynamically a Christian worldview, one that we can experience in the present as eternal life with Jesus.
Well, these applications have caused me to consider the church. What has happened? We have become, foremost, an organization. As with all organizations they come with power, greed and control. These aspects of interaction within human systems called organizations can bind our clear thinking and action. An assumption of today’s Christian church is that the congregation is an organization and out of this belief that it’s sole purpose is to serve it. Or rather sustain itself toward perpetuity. Or even save it from individuals. Retract into uniformity.
None of these assumptions or the model itself is true. The church is defined only as “the called out” that proclaims “Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord” in a specific geographical space (topos). Each Christian congregation represents part of the body of Christ in a geographical space. For example the body of Christ in Broadway VA consists of all the Christian congregations and believers of Jesus Christ in Broadway. The church in Broadway is the gathered community of believers that proclaims Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. This is what it says in Ephesians 3:10-12, “to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through Him.”
As I survey the landscape it could now be time to abandon the current model of doing church. It simply is not working at this hour. It is time to provide an alternative that is more New Testament than 21st century. It is time to prepare the body of Christ to overcome. Jesus says in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” The church to survive this next season will need to adapt to an abide process with a cell like pattern. John 15 provides the framework for this abide process.
In North America in particular many see a slumbering church. Not an awakened body. One charged with “political energy” not so much with the Holy Spirit pumping through its vitals. Part of the awakening is to discard all things political and become “politically neutral.” Could this be the component of being a contemporary Anabaptist at this hour? The rising of George Blaurock to discard his Catholic nationalistic faith and embrace adult water baptism and a true baptism of real faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord could be compared to a slumbering church in America rising and discarding all things political and turning from embracing a national agenda to a more Kingdom one. Or possibly could it be discarding the paid position of pastor with a bi-vocational element. Or even the insistence on stopping the tithing mechanism to many non evangelical unawakened congregations.
In the book of Revelation Jesus visits John the Elder on the island of Patmos. He gives John different characteristics of seven geographically named churches that over time may adopt in succumbing to the world system and culture around it. The characteristics found in these verses are true in every age since the Cross and until the time of the physical return of Jesus one day soon. At the end of each of the descriptions of the seven churches Jesus says “to him who overcomes” I will do this or do that. Jesus plainly describes a central role of the church is to overcome in the midst of every age. Not change or adapt to the culture but to overcome in spite of all else spinning around them. The faster things move the greater the sense to overcome. The greater the tendency to give up means a greater measure of grace to overcome.
A word you have been hearing the past two years and will hear louder in 2011 is the word debt. Sovereign debt is the extended borrowing costs of a nation of which its economy sustains and eventually repays. A nation’s currency floats relative to its debt, economic prosperity and its future ability to repay and cover its sovereign promises. If you dig deeper you may find yourself asking what is really being said to the world at this hour. I sense it is: you have a debt you cannot repay. I, Jesus, have paid the debt you can never repay. I am the only way to the Father. I am the way, the truth and the life. You will try to bail yourselves out and provide your own miracle cures. You will continue to mislead the nations and pretend I do not exist. You will dream clever ways to live without Me. Yet I am here and am coming again. My church will overcome with or without you.
The world is awash with bankrupt methods of self actualization, self improvement and new age approaches. All these demonstrate how depraved the church has become; a church that no longer overcomes but has succumbed to the principalities and powers of nations. It is time to scratch the old and prepare for the new. It is time to overcome. So what did Jesus say to these seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three.
To the church that gathered in Ephesus Jesus commends they have labored for His name sake but they left their first love. Jesus reminds them that He alone gives authority to His body. The Ephesians have become like the Church of Nicholas they have given their authority to their Nation. They believe their Nation was founded in My name. Jesus says He is repelled by their actions because it is motivated for love of Nation not an exclusive love of Jesus as Savior and Lord. If you overcome this temptation and repent you will eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.
To the church that gathered in Smyrna Jesus refers to Himself as the Alpha and Omega the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus reminds them they are financially of means and yet are called to suffer. This church will be tested. He who overcomes this testing will rise and be given the crown of life.
To the church that gathered in Pergamos Jesus commends them for holding fast to His name and not denying faith in Him alone. Jesus reminds them of peddling the word of God for financial gain and allowing your Nation to be your first love. The only course of action is to repent. To those who overcome Jesus will give some of the hidden manna to eat and a new name. In the end you will love what provides for you.
To the church that gathered in Thyatira Jesus commends for their works. Jesus reminds them of false teachers and prophets would bring strange doctrines especially about sexuality and our created nature. For those who continue in this pattern despite knowing the truth will turn sick in their minds and bodies. These false teachers enter the church and turn the Word of God into something else. To those who overcome these false teachers Jesus will give power over the nations and the morning star. This is more of an anointing for world missions, an apostolic sending body. Groups operating in this anointing tend to be more vulnerable to Jezebel type demonic spirits. Proclaiming the Cross and centrality of Jesus Christ is paramount toward faithful and fruitful works.
To the church that gathered in Sardis Jesus commends them that some walk worthy before Him. They are a responsive church in the beginning but evidently have grown complacent. To those who overcome shall be clothed in white garments and Jesus will confess their name before His Father and before the host of heaven.
To the church that gathered in Philadelphia Jesus commends them for keeping His word and not denying His name. They are loyal. You have a heart of true worship. Because you are loyal you persevere. The world will go through a testing and My body too. Hold fast. To those who overcome will be pillars in the household of God and Jesus will write on them His new name.
To the church that gathered in Laodicea Jesus is pretty hard on. They are lukewarm. When water becomes lukewarm it is not good for much. Cold water is useful for thirst. Hot water kills bacteria and is used in cleanliness. Because this church has become content in this lukewarm state Jesus cannot do anything with it. To repent in this state would be to turn back or give up what has caused the state of lukewarmness. Jesus has not provided the things you claim. The gold, garments and eye salve are available to all in Laodicea. Jesus yearns for them to invite Him in; to be Lord of their lives. To those who overcome will rule and reign with Me.
Which of these conditions describes your heart today? What is the Spirit saying to you? What steps in repentance will you take? Now is the day of your salvation. The fields are white unto harvest. The church must go forth while it is day. For night is coming. It will be too late. A tribulation will bring the pressures to overcome. By then it will be too late to be prepared as now is the best time to prepare.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord - Romans 8:37-39.
A conqueror is one who overcomes. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea. For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time. - Revelation 12:11-12.
It is time to overcome.
Lawrence R. Yoder
Nehemiah’s Call, Director
December 18, 2010