YOUR HEART – HIS CROSS
Lk.14: 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
There is nothing more deceptive than organized religion. With all its buildings and mortgages and activities and denominations and celebrities, it hides Christ and the self denying simplicity which must be found in Jesus. But the Roman Emperor Constantine claimed he saw a cross in the sky and heard a voice tell him that if he used that cross he would prevail in wars. He then began a crusade to accept Christians and protect them from persecution, and he even built great church building where they could meet.
That began a compromise which continues today. When the church embraced the acceptance of the government on its terms then the faith began to change substantially. And what used to be a close fellowship marked by humility, prayer, house meetings, and an agape love not seen until then became an outward religion marked by buildings, government alliances, participation in wars, and more and more organization.
But over the centuries the deception has become very sophisticated and slippery. The clandestine nature of this deception hides within ecclesiastical structures which mirror corporate America. It hides behind well educated pulpiteers. It hides behind slick fund raising programs. It hides behind once a year missions conferences. It hides behind new building euphoria. This deception hides deep inside the fabric of the western church construct. And because the deception uses Biblical terms and pastes the name of Jesus upon itself the church practices an ecclesiastical model rather than a self denying path for a disciple which is illuminated and laid out by Holy Scripture and the undeniable life and teachings of Jesus.
So if you do your due diligence and read about how Constantine altered the course and makeup of the church, and if you still cannot see where the axe head fell, then you will continue on a path that is well lit by the bright lights of a self centered culture. But I believe the historical markings are undeniable and obvious. And when you take the time necessary to juxtapose the teachings of Jesus upon this western ecclesiastical mongrel you cannot help but see a serious and grave distinction between the two. And if you do see something disturbing, well, then you are presented with a profound question: What will you do now?
That question is not an easy one to answer immediately, and most of us who have walked down this path knew something had to change, but we could only walk as far as the Holy Spirit could enlighten us. No one takes the entire bottle of prescription pills all at once, and when you see the deception your walk will be one step at a time. This new path which should elicit no self righteousness at all with be filled with doubt and misunderstanding and many times loneliness. And if you do not fill the void with a new and vibrant devotion to Christ then you will find yourself halted between two opinions and not fully dedicated to either.
Let me warn you to count the cost. It is much easier to remain in the system which offers you so much and about which you are familiar. The uncharted territory of coming out will be a major challenge. You will have to consume the Word and through repentance you must practice a prayer life more deep and more profound than you even knew existed. This is no game or turning over a new leaf. And this path must not br embarked upon fueled primarily by your disgust for your former church or even the compromise you see in most of the visible church. That might be a part of your new path, but it must be fueled by your own repentance and your own hunger and thirst to understand and experience more of Christ Himself. Some things with which you have become fond may have to go. This will not be a sprint…it will be a lifelong commitment. Do not let the effervescence of the “new” blind you to the mountains that lie ahead.
But there will also be an unspeakable glory which will enter your life. It will change the way you think, it will change the way you feel, and it will change the way you love. Resist the temptation to use this path to change others. It is designed to change you, and you will have ample opportunities to speak apples of gold in pictures of silver. The real challenge will be to seek diligently a humility which removes any hint of pride and reflects the incomprehensible humility of the cross. I am not anyone’s example. I am only a small voice telling others where they can find what they might be looking for. Millions upon millions of church members journey back and forth from a building and are deceived into believing that is following and knowing Jesus. It is not. But there is a path which can lead you to Him if you are willing to stop and spend time with the Spirit and listen for His voice. I do not speak of some spooky kind of faith. On the contrary, I am speaking of a holy and sacred encounter which gives you something absolutely new.
It is called your heart. It is called His cross.