All day on Sunday, I had an "inner weeping". I went about my routine, caring for the needs of my family, fixing a Sunday dinner, reading and writing some e-mail, a little general straightening, some time in a good book but that weepy inward feeling simply wouldn't leave. I yearned to find a place to get away, and just have a good cry. I felt like it would be cleansing. I'd pour my heart out to God, and feel so much better for it afterward.
I rehearsed in my mind things I would think about, things I would say to the Lord, anything that might make it easier to have a good cry. I would position myself on the floor of the bedroom and cry my heart out. I realized this wouldn't be very easy with a houseful of people without drawing attention to myself, which I did not wish to do, so instead, when everyone was settled down in bed, I found the most remote room in the house where I would be least likely to be heard, and settled down for my good cry. I was really looking forward to it!!!
I felt like I had been preparing my heart for it all day long, and felt like I certainly had plenty to cry about! And then...the unthinkable happened. The tears would NOT come. It made no sense at all. I strained, and they wouldn't come. I turned the level up on thinking deeply about my problems, and they wouldn't come. I told myself I certainly deserved a good cry to get a release from all the pressures and cares of life, and they still wouldn't come.
Finally, I went to bed very disappointed, and still "stuck" in my soul with no sense of relief.
I woke up about 5:30 a.m. aware of the busy schedule for the day, and immediately thought that if I didn't get up and spend a little time with the Lord, the time would pass quickly, and I'd miss out. As is my habit, I got up, made the bed quickly, and headed downstairs to grab a cup of coffee. Decided I could forego breakfast until I had a little time in prayer. Went to my favorite spot to pray, and as the unction came, and the prayers began to flow, I felt I needed to go pray in a different room where no one would be sleeping either above or below me. (Sound can really carry through the floors in some of these older homes.)
I found a spot in the dining room, and continued to pray as the Spirit was leading. Then I prayed my list, and as I was praying the "fountains of the deep" were broken up, and I wept and wept and wept. Obviously, all that "inner weeping" the previous day was related to HIS burden, and not to my own burdens at all!!! What I was experiencing within was "groanings in the spirit that cannot be uttered." See Romans 8:26.
And in that morning prayer time, this is what the Lord spoke into my heart, and I believe this is not just for me, but for others whom the Lord is challenging into a deeper place of prayer with purpose. I am simply going to copy it as it was written in my journal:
This morning in prayer, I had the epiphany that God wants me to weep more for
the cause of the body of Christ and not for my problems in the flesh. I am not to live my life from that level. Seeking first the kingdom means to be in active preparation mode for its advancement. All the "me, my, mine" prayers must fade, and the prayers for the coming forth of the "One New Man" must emerge. We need to see one another in the light of what God is working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure.
I then got distracted by the appearance of my little grand-daughter wanting breakfast, but I'd like to build on a few key points in that short paragraph.
First of all, what is the "cause of the body of Christ"? I believe it's our preparation from the inside out to be trained and made ready to be the executors of His Kingdom purposes. This kingdom within comes "without observation", but the more we become like Jesus by being submitted to all He is doing to will and purpose in our lives the more it moves from being a deeply hidden inward work to an outward manifestation as Jesus receives all glory.
In the governments of this world, there is room for error. If Congress enacts a legislation that turns out to be problematic, the next Congress can work to repeal it. But, in the kingdom it is not so. (Don't panic, keep reading...I will get to the place where there IS room for trial and error.) When the word of the kingdom goes forth which is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, there will be no second guessing what has been done by His Spirit. That is why God's people are in such intense dealings and why the instruments of His hand at times seem so sharp and even unforgiving. This is why God has given to His Church gifts and ministries for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, the edifying of the body of Christ. (See Ephesians 4:11-13)
Growing up into the Head, and coming into maturity is what is going to take us from being consumed with the issues of "church" and church related problems, and church related offenses, and even church related revelations to being a kingdom-minded people using all the skills the Lord taught us (NOT by might, and NOT by power, but by HIS Spirit) as His Church to bring about His righteous rule in this earth beginning with the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to the harvesting of souls affected right through into reproducing the engrafted seed of the word of the God into their hearts so that the propagation continues, so that of the increase of His government there is no end!
The cause of the body of Christ is to understand that God never intended for "church" to be utopia. When the word "church" is used, that means different things to different people. Some industrious-minded students of history compare "church" of today with what they perceive that it was in Bible times. Many people are now trying to make "church" a lot more homey. They've traded pews for sofas, prayer benches for tables where you can set down your Bible, your lap-top, your tablet and your coffee or water bottle. They've made "church" to look more like a living room than what we've known in centuries of church culture to be "church". That is fine, and I think I'd enjoy visiting one of these new fashioned churches, and it certainly would make people feel more on an even level with the ministry in that church.
The bottom line is that whenever God speaks of church in the scriptures, I do believe it's to be understood on two levels. One is definitely the assembling of the saints who have been "called out" of the systems of man, whether secular or religious. Any local church which is laying the same firm foundation as laid by Paul, the wise master-builder, which is Christ Jesus gets an AMEN in my book, and I don't care if they meet in a cathedral with stained glass windows, or in a barn on someone's farm. I'm not gonna tear them down because I know the devil is already working over time to do it. I am not even going to tear them down if I get offended there, if my family members are rejected, if I see problems in the leadership, or if the choir director runs away with the preacher's wife!
Why? Because I understand that the local body of believers is not called to be utopia, rather, it is God's threshing floor where He is working on us, and preparing us for what we are to become in Him, and that means at times brutal exposure to the harshest elements known to the emotions of man. It happens in church!!! It happens where some people who can awe and amaze you with their gifts and talents and anointings can turn right around and drive a barb so deep into your flesh you don't know what hit you!!! Now, does God WANT it to be that way??? NO!!! He wants us all to be loving and sweet and kind and Christ-like, but until He gets us to that place, He is absolutely 100% committed to the work He is doing in His church because He has a purpose beyond what we can see in the four walls where the members of His body meet together.
Am I saying you need to stick out whatever mistreatment someone in a local church puts you through no matter what?? I am saying you need to be led by the Spirit of God, and not your offended flesh, and if God says to LEAVE, then yes, LEAVE, but if He tells you to bear up under it, know that you're going to see GOOD FRUIT because of your endurance!!! Here is a good verse to consider if you feel you're being mistreated by someone in leadership:
If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences. Ecclesiastes 10:4.
Now, I said that "church" is to be understood on two levels. As just explained, the first level is those who are obviously called out, the ekklesia, who are called out and then come together to be committed to the processes of God in perfecting us through ministry callings and gifts in a local assembly. And it's not always pretty, it certainly isn't always kind, and by no means is it "utopia". It's not even utopia in places where they have an understanding of "body ministry" and "plurality of eldership", and where they allow the Spirit of God to move. Not even in those places is a local church the pristine and shining example of euphoric bliss some suggest it's supposed to be with intention never to darken the door until they have it on good authority that's what they'll be finding when they enter in.
The other level we are to understand the concept of "church" on is the mystical, the unseen, the invisible, the universal corporate body of which we are a part, and which cannot be defined or determined or managed by any software program in this world, and no religious organization corners the market on it, and neither does any "non-denominational" organization (quite a contradiction in terms) corner the market on it either!
It must be perceived by the eyes of the Spirit, and it is made up of selected saints FROM ALL churches, regardless of where they meet, regardless of whether we like their style of doing "church", regardless of whether they are an exact replica of a New Testament local body of believers, or so far off the mark it makes your scholarly Biblical sensibilities cringe, regardless if they sit in straight backed pews and genuflect every 5 minutes, regardless if they have prayer meetings where they lay prostrate on the floor for 5 hours at a time, regardless if they wear hair buns, or prayer shawls, regardless of who their "under shepherd" is, they are in spirit united to their Head, the only one who laid down His life for the sheep.
This is the ONE TRUE CHURCH! And it is THIS CHURCH that is going to be the "glorious Church, without spot, wrinkle or any such thing!" You can't fix this church or make it better by changing the arrangement of the pews or bringing in sofas. You can't fix it by putting the pastor in blue jeans instead of a three piece suit. You can't fix it by providing bottled water and a coffee bar. It belongs to God, and if something needs fixin', He'll do it by His Spirit in His way and in His time, and your antsy flesh will never figure it out, but your spirit will be so glad when you see what God has done!!!
God is using the first level of "church" to effect His will and purposes in the greater level of church, and a deeper understanding of how with God it's first the natural and THEN the spiritual causes those who avail themselves of the local assembly of believers to realize there is something far greater for the "cause of the body of Christ" and it is that we be prepared to be vessels of honor in His kingdom.
Abraham saw this church and he called it a city with foundations whose builder and maker is God. See Hebrews 11:8-10. We go into Hebrews 12, and we see a glorious progression. This church goes from being a "city with foundations" (the place of the basics, the first principles of the faith, the sincere milk of the Word) to being seen gloriously in it's fullness with such lofty titles as "the general assembly and church of the firstborn, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the spirits of just men made perfect." AHA... there it is!!! Those who are justified by faith, those "just men" come into that place of perfection. What is that perfection? It's the same Greek word as used in Ephesians 4, speaking of the place where God is taking His body through the ministry of the church....it means completion, fullness, maturity!
The kingdom of God may eventually replace what we know as the flawed, carnal, earthly church which God happens to love so much that He laid down His life for it, but it will never replace the mystical Church that God is preparing in the heavenly places to rule and reign with Him in time to come! The first place of that one committed to being part of this mystical church is to recognize the work of the Spirit of God within! The kingdom of God is within you..
Someone asks you what church you go to, and understanding that the church is a mystical body that can only be perceived by the Spirit, you say, "I AM the church believing it lets you off the hook of any commitment to a local body of believers. Maybe you are 100% right. What it does not do is allow you to escape the wheels of God that grind ever so slowly and ever so fine. If you're serious about your relationship with the Lord, and hunger to be a part of His kingdom, He can still lay the axe to the root of the tree of your life, and put His finger into the deepest recesses of your being until you're broken into the place where He can use you outwardly as strong and powerfully as He is working on you inwardly.
We are a people who are going to be presented faultless before the throne of His glory, and THEN will men come to the brightness of our rising.
This is the cause of the body of Christ. This is what God wants me to weep over.
That we come into the fullness of the One New Man! When I consider the magnitude of the agenda of the Holy Ghost, and all it requires in prayer and waiting on the Lord to see even a fraction of the fullness God has purposed for us in Christ Jesus, where is there time to be overly concerned about the things of this earth, or petty problems that are of absolutely no eternal consequence whatsoever!!!
I'm longing with everything within me to see this Glorious Church be the heavenly Jerusalem it's called to be! I long to see the manifestation of the sons of God, and I groan and travail along with the rest of creation. As you consider what I've shared here, I ask you to see if the Lord doesn't want you also to pick up the "cause of the body of Christ". That we might become so one with our beloved Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, that He will bring to bear His kingdom rule in all of this earth!!! Saints of God, this is our destiny!!!
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, in Jesus Name, help me to be cognizant of the cause of the body of Christ. Help me to realize that it's Your desire that we grow up into the Head that we might have your perfect mind in all it's purity, power, grace, mercy and love and then will we minister your kingdom perfectly into this world. Help us to understand your purpose with the church of Jesus Christ on all levels, first the natural, and then the spiritual. Most of all, Father, I ask you to help us to have love one for another, and your unfailing grace and patience knowing that we are all members of Your Body in need of each other! I ask it in the Name of Jesus, Amen and Amen.
Always in the Love of Jesus,