Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Sheep of Babylon


The Scriptures accurately reveal that humans have a fear of death. It is subliminal and sometimes overt. We exercise and take medication and visit doctors in order to avoid it. But when you have the assurance of eternal life it alters the way you feel about your earthly life. Yes you still enjoy food and some entertainment and sports and family and many other things. However, now your focus has changed. You now live with eternal eyes. To be sure they come in and out of focus but that is due to our own vacillations.

Jesus Himself said “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” So millions of church going people seek fulfillment in this life and treat eternity like a trapeze artist treats the net below. It is more of a “just in case” than it is a living reality. Few desire to place all their eggs in one basket although if pressed they might make that claim with their lips. But this thing called “Christianity” has never been the religious wing of a western lifestyle.

The true faith calls for our lives. It beckens us to forsake all even in the midst of all. It commands us to deny self and take up a cross. Those are flowery words which when taken literally present a colossal reality. To follow Jesus is a living death experience which brings forth joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is beyond religion. This is the highest calling for anyone born of a woman. It is life and life everlasting.

But be aware that this is the only path which leads to eternal life. It is not an elective, and we are called to unravel both its mystery as well as its practice throughout our lives. Imperfect as we are, and walking completely in His grace, we are still called and empowered by the Spirit to come out from among them and be separate. We live and breathe and have our being in a kingdom not of this world.

But just as in Jerusalem, the walls have been burned with fire and crumbled down and the visible church for the most part has been carried off to Babylon where millions have found comfort and pleasure and self esteem. There are a few Daniels and a few Ezras but for the most part they are seen as eccentric relics and many times ridiculed. Their voice seems so distant and out of touch because after all there are well coiffed and learned men who are feeding the Babylonian sheep through spoons of personality, oratorical prowess, and enticing word’s of men’s wisdom. And the sheep of Babylon love to have it so.

And little by little the ecclesiastical community has constructed a wonderful religion which costs nothing except a token offering once a week and a building fund pledge. And the music is wonderful, the activities are wonderful, the buildings are wonderful, the staff is wonderful, the preacher is wonderful, and the fellowship is wonderful. Yes, everything is wonderful. And when someone weeps it is almost always concerning a personal grief or problem but never over the souls of men or the condition of the church. So all energies are directed as assuaging anything which inhibits personal happiness.

The modern day church world is consumed with fixing men’s earthly lives and by so doing their interest, much less passion, concerning men’s eternal souls is almost non-existent. The Spirit which causes John Knox to say to God, “Give me Scotland or I die!” is now just an historical curiosity. Are there all night prayer meetings of intercession? Are there many tears of grief? Are there fastings for power to reach souls? Do congregations deny themselves and beseech God to be used to spread the gospel top a lost and dying world?

To be honest, the faith which follows and preaches and lives Jesus has all but been replaced by a human faith which uses Jesus’ name but practices what He never did. And souls all around us are perishing. The only explanation is that we do not believe it, and we cherish our own lives more than the souls of men. What a disgrace.

I have no timetable for the Lord’s return, however I do know this: There is coming an end. The story of humankind will come to an end. It will not be because of any terrorist group or any world war or any natural disaster. The end will come swiftly once it begins and it will come at the hands of the Creator. The same Scriptures which teach love and patience and grace also reveal a terrible day when Jesus will return and visit the entire earth with His wrath. Does that seem so out of character to you?

Well that is because pulpit profiteers have presented to you a false and incomplete vision of Jesus. I urge you to read through the New Testament yourself in one month and listen to what the Spirit tells your heart.

What if you became aware that the western church construct was built upon the desires and needs of man and not the desires of God? In other words, what if for an unguarded moment you entertained the idea that all of the was working against the purposes of God and His kingdom? And even if you thought about it for an instant, would you have the spiritual energy to seek the truth? Let me put it another way. Do you really want to know the truth? Or are you satisfied with others telling you what they say is the truth? After reading the Book of Acts, and after knowing the plight of the martyrs, can you honestly suggest that what goes on now is the powerful salt and light God calls the church?

In essence, is this really all there or does following Jesus require a much deeper commitment which also comes with an inward glory that eclipses anything here on earth and alters your mind, heart, and life? Or is the redundant display of Sunday morning caravans which change nothing and is as powerless and predicable as an Elk’s club meeting?

Each one of us will have to decide these questions, but it must begin with consuming God’s Word and with an open heart to the voice of the Spirit.

But we live among the sheep and the goats in Babylon. The goats love it. They wallow in it. It meets their lusts and fulfills their dreams. It captures their hearts and ministers to their souls. They live and breathe within its fallen power. But in an amazing and disconcerting truth, most of who call themselves “sheep” feel the same as do the goats.

But you must admit these Babylonian sheep sure do know how to have church, but they do not know how to be the church.

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