Christ in His Distressing Disguise
By Chad Taylor
I do not agree with the big way of doing things. To us what matters is an individual. If we wait to get the numbers, we will be lost in the numbers. I believe in person to person; every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, that person is only one person in the world for me at that moment (Mother Teresa)
In a world full of fantasy and fiction it is sometimes difficult to discover the face of God in such a maze of humanity. In the fancy disguise of religion it is sometimes even harder. In the face of piety one can get lost in duty and ritual somehow forgetting compassion. Never hearing the beat of an orphans heart through the rapturous sounds of religion. Never seeing the sinners hungry stares through the stained glass windows. Deaf to the drowning masses as they slip past by the millions into an uncertain eternity.
God forbid the epitaph of this generation would read, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." (Jeremiah 8:20).
The harvest is white as we stare into the vast expanse of a new millennium. But the laborers are still few. The paradox is still as perplexing as it was when Christ walked the earth 2000 years ago. A simple message of love and charity and yet forgotten in the clamor of human achievement and selfishness. We pass Him by everyday as we strive for spiritual experience. He is left on the streets surprised and rejected.
He came to His own, and His own received Him not (John 1:11)
POWER NOT JUST PROSPERITY
Never in human history have we stood at such a precipice of possibility as we do today. The masses of souls stare at the church as they did in Acts 3:5, And gave heed to them, expecting to receive something from them What will we give to them in this hour? Can we now say, Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you Or will we continue to offer wealth and prosperity without wholeness and posterity? Can we demonstrate the power without the pressure? The passion without a price? Prophecy without a price tag? O that we could see what Paul saw when he exclaimed! For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me, if I preach not the gospel! (1st Corinthians 9:16)
"What is my reward then? That, when I preach gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel (1st Corinthians 9:18)
The faces of a thousand broken hearts stare at us every day. With outstretched hands they wait at the corner for Jesus to pass by. They have been waiting for a long time. Many have spent all of their living on doctors, but to no avail. Still they wait. Waiting for the living Christ to be loosed from the bondage of human hearts and expressed to an expectant world. They are waiting for us, His Church. As Jesus hides behind the strain and scars of the masses crying, I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him who my soul loves (Song of Solomon 3:2). He is not hard to find. You can see Him plainly in the eyes of a child. In the eyes of an old man as he stumbles aimlessly down the street. You can see Him in the eyes of a mother, alone and struggling. You can find Him if you really desire Him. He is waiting; He is watching, waiting and watching for His Bride
Let the Bridegroom go forth from His chamber, and the Bride out of her closet (Joel 2:16)
GOD STILL WEARS THE FACE OF A CHILD
In the streets of America one does not have to go far to see their distressing faces. They leer at you from the corner. Stare at you from car windows. A generation of restless hearts, silhouetted on the backdrop of life, hungry and desperate. Desperate for the reality of Jesus demonstrated through earthen vessels, unconditional and free from guilt and condemnation. Desperate for the hand of help that dares to reach from the Churches shores, to cast a line of life to the ocean of hapless humanity. This generation of youth is the fuel waiting for the flame of destiny to ignite their hearts with holy passion. They stand idle on the corners and when asked why, they reply, "No one has hired us " (Matt. 20:6-7). "No one has given us a chance! No one has seen the worth and the value in us. No one will give place to the glory of God in us "
"But Jesus said, receive the little children, and forbid them not to come to Me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven " (Matthew 19:14)
God stares at us from their haunting eyes waiting, imploring for the Church to rise to her feet and declare from the housetops, "BUT YOU ARE A CHOSEN GENERATION!" (1st Peter 2:9). If there is a prophetic sound in the land it is one of restoration not desolation. God is looking for those that will,
"Build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation of many generations." (Isaiah 61:4). If there is any anointed in this day they will not condemn and slander, but rather, " Bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound " (Is. 61:1). God is not looking for judges, He is looking for lions that will roar His love into the hearts of a billion broken people.
WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
What we need to do as a Church is make room for the lost. Not just programs but people getting involved with the everyday hurts of their city. Not from a safe distance, but directly. To be a bridge between the Church and the street, as Phillip was between Jerusalem and Samaria. We have to "STAND IN THE GAP!" The word hedge comes from the Greek word, pit or prison. The word compel is derived from the Greek words, to drag or dredge up as if in a net. When Jesus commanded His servants to, go into the hi-ways and hedges and compel them to come in. What He was really saying was, "Go out into the pits and prisons of society and cast the net of My love into the cesspool of moral depravity and bring them in! Translate them from darkness into the Kingdom of My dear Son!
We need more than just yearly food drives! What do they eat the rest of the year?! Our churches need to become the "storehouses" they were intended to be. The misinterpretation of scripture in Malachi, that preaches a formula of prosperity rather than charity, has brought the Church populace into a place of spiritual poverty. Doors that should be opened 24 hours a day are locked and barred while the lost wander aimlessly and blindly. We need teams that will man the churches during the night watch. In ancient Israel the watchmen were not on furlough after midnight! Their watch had only begun! We need outreaches from every suburban church into the inner city. "Nets" that are cast out into the deep that dredge the alleys for children molested and forgotten. Outreaches that keep the light of salvation on all night. Offering coffee, a pastry, and a prayer.
The world needs the Church to stir themselves from the comfort of indifference. The Church needs her leaders and pastors to be the first to step from the pulpit to the street. Jesus did not live behind the safety of the veiled synagogue walls! NO! He moved amongst the common man! He walked with them every day! Ha ate in their houses and healed their bodies! Where in Church history did we transcend from the marketplace to the monastery ?
The secret of church growth is not accountants and building programs, NO! It is charity and evangelism! It is a passion for souls and a compassion for the lost! It is the courage to step from the confines of religion and boldly invade the darkness and declare, "I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!"
"I AM THE SALT OF THE EARTH!" Then and only then will we "hasten the coming day of God "