“Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come on you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes.” John 12:35
“Lots and lots of cotton-balled clouds that are shielding the sun from my eyes… so why it is that they don’t “get in the way” of my view? In fact, they give the light something to reflect off of, making it even more lovely. The clouds don’t detract from the light, they diffract it :)” ~ Julie Harris
Source: the struggle is real
The “angel” the Spirit of Christ speaks to is the pastor of the body of believers found in Sardis. What pierces my heart here is the use of the word “reputation.” For most of us, our reputations mean everything. How we are viewed by those around us carries tremendous weight. What the Lord is saying to the fellowship at Sardis is that in the eyes of the culture around them and even in the sight of other believers, they have the reputation of being centers of His Life. It would also seem to be the opinion of those in that church as well. What should shake us to our very foundation is that it was not the view of Christ. He saw a tremendous amount of activity for Him, but He did not see a body of believers rooted and grounded in Him. Think on that for a moment.
What do we generally see as being a church filled with life? Top of the line worship with high quality skills in musicianship and voice. Skilled communicators in the pulpit. Many and varied ministries that care for children, youth, singles, as well as home and care groups geared towards those with special needs. A ministry pointed toward reaching out to the community and drawing them into the fellowship. An atmosphere where there is a sense of excitement, of something “happening.” I think that these are just a few of the things we’d define as a church with a reputation for life. I think that much if not all of these were found in the congregation at Sardis. All of them are good things. Very good. Yet none of them seemed to enter into Christ’s assessment of them as to their being a true Life giving fellowship. How could this be? What could be missing?
It’s human to desire that all that is listed above be found in a church. They should be. But I think what Jesus saw in the midst of it was that they were doing all of it with hearts that had drifted far from Him. The church was a well oiled machine, but machines are not alive. They move and are active, but they have no soul. Without realizing it, a living body can become the same. Sardis had crowds. Sardis had ministries. Sardis had a name. Sardis did not have life. His Life.
The question we have to ask ourselves, whether we are the “angel” of our fellowship, a leader in it, or a member of it, is, are we, in the midst of all we do, really producing Spirit filled followers of Jesus Christ? Are we overcoming the world both within and without by the power of His resurrected life? Is real transformation taking place in the lives of the people, and are those lives marked by maturity, victory, and wholeness? Are we trying to take flesh, and by our efforts, make it better flesh, or are fallen, lost lives being laid hold of by the power of His Life and made new? Completely new. Have we drifted from the “first things” into just doing church things? Have we become so enamored with our reputation among men that we no longer really know, or care what our reputation with Him really is? Can He even speak to us about it? It starts with the “angel” but the speaking goes on throughout the entire body. He’s speaking. Are we hearing?
Can we make the move from living in the natural, to moving in the supernatural, and know that this doesn’t make us “weird?” Can we dare to live in a realm that depends upon really having the eyes, mind, and heart of Christ? ~Pastor O
A devotional by Pastor O, shared by permission.
I am becoming more and more disturbed by comments and statements made by well meaning, and perhaps some not so well meaning brothers and sisters. Statements that are so dogmatic in their content that they will tolerate no disagreement from any quarter. As someone said, it is imperative that we belong to the “right club” within the church. We in that club are right, and everyone else is wrong. My sense of it all is we are depending far more upon our own intellectual understanding of His Word and teaching than we do upon the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit. We must have correct doctrine and theology on the essentials of the faith, and especially the final authority of scripture, but most of our conflict, even warfare, is a result of arguing about non-essentials. And we can be extremely unloving in our disagreements, resulting in labeling, and even name calling. All the while, I believe Jesus weeps, and, I think, feels no small amount of anger. I think it is time, past time, for the Church, you and me, to hear Him speak a new “nevertheless” to us.
When Jesus spoke the above scripture to His disciples, He was telling them that He was leaving them. They didn’t understand any of His reasoning and were brokenhearted. They saw and sensed only the appearance of it all. He would be gone….they thought. They could not see or understand what He was following that statement with; that He would be sending them the Comforter, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who would not only be with them, but in them. He was promising them an even greater companion than His physical presence, but they couldn’t see it. They lacked discernment and understanding. That would not come until they were baptized in the fullness of His Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It will not come to us until we experience it as well. When we do, we will no longer live by appearances and our own understanding. We will not live by the power of our intellect, but by the power of His Spirit. We will not live with information about Him, but revelation from Him. We’ll discover that truth and reality are not based upon what appears to be, but on what He has spoken and revealed…..and continues to speak and reveal. We discover that His Word is alive and not static. Growing and unfolding within us in ever deeper ways. Never making itself void, but always taking us beyond our intellectual limits. It’s a mystical and supernatural experience, and our staid, western intellects struggle with that. So we live by our senses and our natural reasoning. Knowing what He has said, in our minds if not our hearts, but not what He is saying now. We’re leaning upon our own understanding, but we never seem to realize it.
Can it become less important for us to be “right” in all these debates, and most important that we know and hear Him? Can we believe that there may be areas of life, doctrine and theology, where we may be at least in part, wrong? Can we make the move from living in the natural, to moving in the supernatural, and know that this doesn’t make us “weird?” Can we dare to live in a realm that depends upon really having the eyes, mind, and heart of Christ? This is frightening to the flesh, but very welcoming to Christ. Will we live in the place where our flesh is most at home, or where His Holy Spirit is? What’s our answer as concerns our lives, homes, and fellowships? Do we live by appearances, or by His appearing and speaking to us through them?