I got this picture of a horse with a feedbag on his face, tied up to his stall. When I thought about the horse, I saw that the horse was content, because the feedbag is filled up when his master brings his meal at the regular feeding times. Even though he just passes time in his stall until the next feeding time, he is without anxiety, because he does not expect anything else in his life.
This image of the horse reminded me oftoday’s churchianity that we are living in. The people are held prisoner in their spiritual stalls and fed just enough nourishment to keep them alive. Whatever they are fed seems to take care of their basic needs. They stay tied up in their spiritual stalls, without any apparent desire to be released into the wide open spaces of the plains, where the food is so abundant and the freedom is so exhilarating! When the idea of living a life of freedom vs. a life of mere existence is expressed, the parishioner looks with unbelief at the mere idea of anything else. He or she seems to be content with his feedbag, while the mountains loom in the distance!
God did not design it this way. God is not pleased with this ‘kingship system’ where the leader of the church is the king, and all of the people serve him or her. This is a system folks, that has proven to be ineffective. It does not equip the people to do great exploits of God the way that Jesus said we would all do. “In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask him for anything, using my name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you. Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it!” John 14:12. We will not even get into how our current system can be abused to fleece the sheep while the shepherd gets fat on the abundant overflow from the deceived people. This popular ‘prosperity message’ is not fulfilling Malachi 4, where God tells them to bring in the tithes, so that the house of God will be full of food. The food was used to feed the poor, widows, orphans, and all of the people serving in the house of God. We have turned everything on it’s head and designed a system that feeds the professionals and leaves all of the rest of the people to fend for themselves. We have leaders in the Church buying 4 million dollar homes with a plethora of expensive imported automobiles and of course the private airplane bought with the sheep’s money! Why is it that Jesus told us, “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” John 20:27-28. It seems that the pattern of the shepherd being the one who is served, is turning this example of Jesus upside down. We need to take another look at ‘our system of church.
This is food for thought is it not? I am not saying that all of our church systems work this way. There are men and women of God who have fulfilled the mandate of Jesus to be the one who lays his life down for the sheep. I know of great men and women of God who would be the first ones to die to save another. I am talking about “The System” of our current churchianity. I am not trying to paint every church leader with the same brush, please understand me. I am raising questions!
Let’s go back to the time when the Israelites pleaded with God for a king. “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 1 Samuel 8:4. After Samuel sought the Lord over this request of the people, the Lord said, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7. I think that we can see that God was not pleased with their desire for a king. He had told them to wipe out all of the nations as they went into the promised land so that the infection of those nations would not soak into their hearts, and this is exactly what happened. Even though the Lord was their “King” and their “Warrior” and had taken them out of Egypt and fed them on manna, they rejected Him. He had been a cloud by day and a fire by night to protect them, but they had rejected Him! They had been so envious of the nations around them that they wanted to have a king just like the surrounding nations. The Lord had been their ‘safe haven’ and ‘refuge’ throughout their whole lives except those times when they turned their backs on Him and served other gods. When God had enough of their disobedience, He would pass judgment and they would suffer the wrath of their Father’s anger because of their out and out rebellion. Could the reason that they wanted a king of their own have something to do with their desire to live as they liked, without having to obey the Lord’s guidelines The Lord demands that we live according to His ways and not ours. Interesting isn’t it? How about today? Where’s the accountability in most of today’s churches? God said that He chastises those whom He loves. One word of correction today sends people out the door and on to the next church. This reminds me of the time in Judges when it says, “…every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 17:6
Remember the time in Exodus? “When the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the mountain smoking, they all feared and trembled. So they took up a position much farther away and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we shall die.” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid, for God has come to you only to test you and put his fear upon you, lest you should sin.” Still the people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the cloud where God was.” Exodus 20:18-21
Look at the words that we see here for a minute. God came in His glory and majesty and the people were afraid. We are praying constantly today, “God show me your glory” We have a great song by Third Day singing about this very thing. We see that the people moved further away and told Moses to speak to them instead of the Living God. They were making a very fatal error here! Moses told them that God had come to test them and show them how to fear his magnificence, in order to keep them from sinning.
Ah…….here we are beginning to see the significance of the action of the people. Now it is starting to make sense. We know that God did not come to scare them in order for Him to feel powerful! God does not need an ego boost. He is very confident in His magnificence and splendor. The people on the other hand had continually wandered off the track that God had set before them and returned to theirold ways. He was their King and yet they did not want to be in His presence and hear Him speaking to them personally. I believe it was because their filthiness and sinful hearts were exposed before His face and they could not handle it! I believe that they wanted tohold on to their sin, while enjoying His hand of protection against their enemies. They wanted the mixture in their lives!
Let’s get back to the kingship pattern that our churches are currently based on, shall we? Can we see that this system though it may not be as obvious as the kingship pattern of the people in biblical times, there is clearly a great similarity. Could it be that the people want and desire this system because they can live their lives without much accountability, because the pastor is only one man who cannot possibly have fellowship with every one of his people. The bigger the church; the less the accountability. When we turn this thing around for a minute and see when God is the only King, we know that He can see all things, knows all things, and nothing is hidden before His eyes. Somehow we have placed a mediator between us and God and I believe this is where the defect is uncovered. Somehow, the accountability is to man instead of God where it belongs. As long as man does not correct us in our sin, we feel somehow, that we are OK, even though God has been speaking to us about our disobedience!
It reminds me of the inmates in the jail where I work. In their eyes, they are only guilty of the crimes that they have been convicted of. They feel no accountability for the crimes that they “got away with”. When I talk to them about the reason they are in prison, it is amazing to hear them justify their lawlessness and rebellion against society. They take no responsibility for their actions! They only feel guilty when they are caught! How about us before the Lord? Do we live our lives as if Jesus is walking along with us every minute of every day, in every circumstance? If we did, would some of us continue to live as if He cannot see us and does not care what we do? Wake up! We have talked ourselves into being content with our one hour Sunday service obligation, which gives us the assurance that we have done our part and we are “Good to Go with God” This is a deception!
When we get back to the feedbag on the horse at the beginning of this article, I relate this not only to the desire for more freedom and fulfillment in our callings, but it also relates to the reason so many of stay in the current churchianity system instead of seeking the Lord for alternate forms. Just because something has been operating for so long and is familiar and established does not mean it is working effectively. So maybe we should be more diligent to improve on the way that we “Do Church”? We need another Reformation, like in the time of Martin Luther! There is a shift in the Winds of God upon our land and He is ferreting out the corruption in “His Church”. He is judging her and there is nowhere to hide from the consuming fire of His eyes. His gaze will burn up all that is not pleasing in His sight! If we give way to the judgment of God upon His house, we will repent and humble ourselves before a mighty God, but if we ignore these warnings from heaven, He will send a deluding influence upon us and allow us to continue in our deception because of the stubbornness of our hearts.
I am not suggesting that we all leave our churches this week and just float around without leadership and guidance! This would be a disaster! Even though I believe that the system is sick, God first needs to open up our eyes to the problem and then through transition, something new will be birthed that will better fulfill the mandate of Jesus , “In solemn truth I tell you, anyone believing in me shall do the same miracles I have done, and even greater ones, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask him for anything, using my name, and I will do it, for this will bring praise to the Father because of what I, the Son, will do for you. Yes, ask anything, using my name, and I will do it!” John 14:12. When we start walking in the power of God so that our mere shadow will heal people, we will know that God is in our midst in a BIG WAY!
Rob and Jody