THE PROPHETIC GAP BETWEEN SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS REFORM
THE GOD MAN
When Jesus was on this earth in physical form He became a mediator between God and man. What made Him such an effective negotiator between Heaven and earth? Besides the obvious; His deity and nobility- what really created such a revolution between social and religious hostilities? The answer is simple: He was with the people. He ate with them, He sat and socialized with them, and in many cultural interpretations He was one of them. In Jesus' meteoric and nearly overnight success as He ascended from "son of Joseph and Mary" to the Son of God, He never forgot the people. He never allowed His religious standing to regulate his social involvement and influence. In other words, He met the people where they were at. Whether this was at the Wedding of Cana or in the Tax Collector's home or the literal immersing of Himself in the massive crowds that followed Him. Jesus the Prophet, Jesus the Apostle, and Jesus God, never distanced Himself from the social and relevant needs of the people around Him.
REVOLUTION VS. REGRESSION
Today we see an opposite regression from the social and religious revolution Jesus initiated. Now as ministers and leaders progress up the ministry ladder of popularity, they at the same time, distance themselves from the common man. What it finally becomes is a segregated group or body that meets in conferences and meetings with very limited genres of social representation. Modern day prophets fail to express the real need of the cities and people around them because; THEY ARE NO LONGER PART OF THE PEOPLE AND CITIES AROUND THEM. They have limited themselves to the immediate influence of those drawn to their ministries. Ask the visiting prophet when is the last time that they went to a tavern in their city and sat and heard the heart of the people? Or at a mall and hung out with the youth to hear first hand their needs and concerns? Or walked in America's ghettos and seen the tragic plight of millions of people? Nine out of ten times they have not. They have fallen prey to the modern methodology of ministry that caters to the minority; the saved. Rather than the majority; the lost.
WHO WILL STAND IN THE GAP?
Now the question is, What kind of strain and pressure does this apply to the heart and possible salvation of those in these cities and regions? The answer is complex. What we have created in modern ministry is the opposite of what Christ set in motion in His. He promoted and catered to the sinner. We distance ourselves and even worse, create environments in our conferences and churches that alienate and push the lost or unsaved away. The modern day prophet has become a celebrity instead of an advocate and friend of the people. We have reversed the very cycle of social and religious reformation Jesus initiated 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. He was faced with many if not more of the social strains we are faced with today. Jew and Gentile (white and black), Pharisee and Sadducee (different denominations), and the ancient struggle of gender and where it fits into our religious experience. Jesus confronted these issues head on and prevented the disease of social and religious prejudice modern ministries have allowed today. We must re-evaluate everything we do. We need an infusion of His heart into our ministries and not allow another moment to pass that we are not using the platforms of our conferences and personalities as stages set for outreach and revival. We must cast our net on the other side of modern methods and ministry.
Just by our concept of conference we are feeding this disease. If we do not begin to introduce the church to the lost and struggling world around them how can we ever entertain the idea of social transformation? We teach the opposite in our religious dress codes and our demeanor and attitudes. We shout at a world that is spiritually unaware, "Unless you somehow attain to our spiritual prowess you can never be saved and your level of social standing is not good enough to qualify you into our elite groups of religious expression..." It is shocking that modern leaders still find it necessary to even wear a tie? This small act of religious protocol can strengthen and lengthen the gap between religious idealism and true revival. How long will we permit this before we take on the unadulterated nature of Jesus and baptize our ourselves into humanity? Most of what we do today would be unacceptable in Jesus' group of disciples. It would rather fit fairly well in the temples of Phariseeism and Sadducees though. We must reverse this cycle of separation and spiritual segregation now if we are ever going to experience the magnitude of harvest prophesied and intended for this present generation. We have to step up to the spiritual Jordan of our time and say to John, "Suffer it to be so now..." thus condescending and putting ourselves at the same level of those we are ministering too.
WHAT IS THE ANSWER?
The answer is simple, JESUS. But the process to undue centuries of religious jargon and dispensation is not. We are faced with a problem with epic proportions. But there is a road less traveled that if taken can exponentially change the religious landscape around us. One, we have to realize that any personality or notoriety that is given to us is ultimately for harvest. Jesus was no stranger to notoriety or fame, "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about." (Luke 4:14). But we see a balance at work here that most evangelists and ministers forget, "And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them." (Matt 8:4). This was after the notable miracle done to the man with leprosy. There is a time for promotion but there is also a time to be quite. We have put the knife to our throat of influence in modern culture by our inability to relate to the common man and woman by our lifestyles. Jesus did just the opposite. He ate with them, sat with them and really was a part of their entire living experience and He avoided any undue social pressure to perform. We have become performers to a large degree in our ministries because of this social pressure applied from the conferences and crowds around us. We have given them a show, now they expect a show every time; thus the people outside this experience perish.
THE TEMPLE MODEL
The Old Testament model of the temple holds a secret to modern revival and outreach. Let's look at this more carefully. The outer-court was where most of the transactions between the social and religious classes occurred. The inner-court evolved into a more intimate experience between God and priest which was ultimately for the people. Finally, the Holy of Holies. A place where only the High Priest could tend to the altar for the sins of all the people as well as himself once a year. How can this apply today? The Holy of Holies now is obvious, when we are saved and washed in the blood of Christ, we enter this place freely. The inner court is the place of healing and introduction to this intimacy and reality. The outer-court is the missing link today in church and ministry. A PLACE THAT THE COMMON MAN CAN COME FREELY TO TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD. In the old testament model of the temple, if someone unclean come into the Holy of Holies or anyone other than the priest for that matter, they died! How many "deaths" of modern revivals have occurred because we have tried to force a generation into the "holy of holies" instead of first bringing them into an "outer-court" place of meeting or experience? We need to institute "outer-courts" into our conferences and our churches. A place where the world can come and feel "normal". This may come as a shock to many, but the world does not wear a tie.
HE BECOMES FLESH AGAIN
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory..." (John 1:14). Jesus came to earth and DWELT AMONG US. He did not separate Himself from the world, but rather came into it with a forceful love and compassion. This scripture should epitomize our ministries, "AND DWELT AMONG US". Jesus has become "in the flesh" again every time we take Him to the modern day market places of the world. He becomes "in the flesh" every time we touch someone in need or we love one another as He has loved us. The only way to transcend contemporary religious dogma that has blurred who He really is - is to become Him in the flesh again and personally interact with the world around us. We need to join their clubs, go to their meetings, attend their social gatherings and invade every venue of society with His power and glory. That is the only way to fulfill the second sentence in John 1:14: "...and we beheld his glory..." How will they ever behold His glory when it is fish-bowled in conferences and private Christian experiences confined to church groups and settings? We must create an "outer-court" experience to then marry our conferences with their present reality of existence. We must do it now or become another dispensation or spot on church history books, rather than the monumental prophetic generation of impact and influence previously prophesied.
A NEW BREED OF PRIESTS
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin." (Heb 4:15). This speaks of a Jesus that associated Himself on every social and religious level with the people. He identified with His generation to ultimately reach His generation. He was "separate" and at the same time not "unequally yoked". Modern doctrine has created an entire expose on "unequally yoked" and it's relationship between Christians and the world. We have determined this to mean we do not associate with the lost on their social levels. This is completely out of context and not in the paradigm of Christ's thinking or lifestyle. How did He justify then sitting with the drunkards and the gluttons? What we call a "party" today Jesus called opportunity. He justified His lifestyle in one eloquent and brilliant response to His critics, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32). This new breed of priests and prophets today will practice this same approach to the social world around them. They will have the inept understanding that they are in this world to be "the light of the world" not a hidden object of religious affection.
ARE YOUR FEET WET?
"And as they that bare the ark were come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overflows all his banks all the time of harvest)." (Josh 3:15).
As the great army of Israel was crossing the Jordon into Canaan notice who led the way in this campaign; The priests. They were not watching on closed circuit t.v. in isolated offices. They were the first ones to embark on this epic journey to blaze a trail for those that followed. Notice the season that the priests were called on to lead this march. Harvest. When the banks of the Jordan were overflowing. In this modern moment of unparalleled harvest we as leaders and priests are being called on again to lead the company of Christians into battle. What awaited them across the river was not just milk and honey, it meant battle. They had giants to slay and cities to possess. The same landscape of possession awaits us. Can we delay any longer? Can we dare stand behind the pulpit and be rushed out the door as the final note ends any longer? Can we allow the catering and socializing that promotes us to pedestals rather than power any more? The social structure of our meetings only widens the margin between the world and the church. Our "special seating" and vying for position. The "star" treatment afforded to those that speak. The lost shrink in the back row with the pervading feeling that they can never measure up to such an elite "god" like group. This is appalling to a Jesus who suffered dirty children to interrupt His message. Sick homeless men to take precedence over His entourage and prostitutes to approach him as He met with other dignitaries. This is the Jesus the world is still desperately looking for. Are they seeing Him in us?
I pray that the modern prophets of our day, who I believe to be the best equipped and enlightened in history, to take up their plowshares and swords and lead us into battle. The people will follow you! Can you imagine in a Benny Hinn crusade (who I respect completely), at the end of the meeting would look at the people and say, "We are going to the streets! I will personally lead whoever will downtown and bring the love and power of Jesus to the city!" Can you imagine the reaction? Thousands would pour from the conference into the real world that mills around them. Not exiting quickly to find the nearest Denny's and eat their revelation away. How preposterous! We have become a spiritual consumer rather than a minister. We "hoard" our manna until the entire camp stinks! We need to give freely what we have received freely and as leaders we need to lead the charge into the streets of our cities. We cannot afford to do anything else. A severe accountability is going to be upon the prophets and ministers of our time. Can you imagine how many conferences and meetings occurred in New York City in 2001? How we look back now and say to ourselves, "why didn't I tell someone about Jesus?" Yes there will be casualties in war but the numbers that are perishing as the parade of conferences roll through our cities is staggering. We have to wake up from our religious stupor and run to a world dying. We have to do it now.
Chad Taylor - www.consumingfire.com