One of the biggest problems we have today, is that when sinners and saints alike, look at the church, they see man more than they see Christ. They see the personality of men; not that men shouldn’t have personalities. They see the agenda of men; not that men can’t have agendas. But it is the Lord’s personality and agenda that must be seen. The problem is, there is not enough of Christ in many of our churches to catch the attention of people. Fleshy, earthy saints sit on the throne.
What people see the most of when they enter a church is that which stands out the most. They hear what is the loudest. The prevailing attitude and the spirit of a people who are gathered together is what will impress those who have come to participate. If there is no Christ, then He is not seen or heard. I am not saying there is not a measure of Christ in many of the churches. If that were the case, they would not be churches at all. In some cases, maybe many, the gathering of so-called believers is nothing more than a formal obligation that is just a part of their weekly routine.
One thing the Lord has made known to me is that His heart burns for His church. How do I know that? I feel it every time I draw close to God in heartfelt prayer. It is there that He exposes me to the burden He has for His people to love Him with all their heart, soul and mind. Some of you saints may not be accustomed to thinking that God can have a burden. We usually attribute that to our lives. We think, “I am the one that has burdens.” However, Jesus did say that we should take His yoke upon us and that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
There is one thing that I think all men experience, who have been given a special burden from the Lord. It is a feeling of frustration, or inadequacy in the seemingly impossibility of ever seeing that burden fulfilled. Questions like, “What can I really do about it” or “How could I possibly make a difference,” can rise up in the mind of those who share in the Lord’s burden.
Well, there is one thing that can be done every time the burden of the Lord is felt and that is to take it to the Lord in prayer. This is exactly what I do when His burden is placed on me. What I am doing when I pray is this: as God puts His burden on me, I put it back on Him. That does not mean that I am refusing to accept the burden, it means that I realize I cannot accomplish one breath of that work without Him doing all that He does. He wills it, He leads it and He anoints it.
I heard stories of men who had such incredible burdens. Of one preacher, it was reported that while he was traveling on his horse to minister from town to town, he would get so burdened that one time he stopped to pray and the snow around him melted. Robert Murray McCheyne, a Scottish preacher, could be heard in the streets weeping for the lost. I have to confess I have never had God’s burden come on me that strong. Does that make me feel bad or even somewhat uncommitted? Yes, but I find peace when I am reminded that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It also helps tremendously that the spirit helps me to pray. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).
Anyway, getting back to the church and the lack of Christ being seen. Have you ever had to explain to someone that such and such a person, who is connected to you in some way, really does not represent you? Contractors are often criticized for shady deals. Yet, that doesn’t mean every contractor is a cheat. Lawyers are often criticized for being crooked and many jokes made about them, yet there are attorneys who have much integrity. People are quick to make others guilty by association. So too with the church. Many true saints of God are looked upon as hypocrites just by their being associated with the church that has in many ways turned fleshy and carnal. So we must be more mindful of that and pray and work toward seeing our association with the carnal church severed. What you hear from people today is, “All the church wants is my money.” Or, “If that man I work with is a Christian, why would I ever want to go to his church?” Another sad thing that people see is the church fighting amongst themselves. How could they possibly see Christ as the center? I know a man who several decades ago was powerfully delivered from drugs. His brother had already died from an overdose and this man, who has since become a good friend of mine, was headed in the same direction. Well, after he was marvelously saved, you would think the church would be overwhelmed with God’s delivering power. Of course some were, but the church started to reject him just because he parted his hair down the middle.
The devil has been very effective at getting the church to be about other things or people instead of being about the main person who is Jesus Christ. Imagine if you would, when you take all your bad church experiences, how different they would have been if every situation was approached with this thought: THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME, THIS IS ABOUT CHRIST. That would mean that man’s ideas and agendas would be secondary, if there was any room for some of them at all. That would mean that at the expense of your hurt feelings, Christ would be exalted. I am not saying every time your feelings are hurt Christ is exalted, but there are many times He could and would be. If He is exalted when your feelings are hurt, I would hope you would open yourself up to any onslaught of criticism and rejection. After all Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:11).
People don’t see the church being about Christ because those in the church don’t make it about Him. The point of this whole article is to challenge us all to be determined to see the church once again reveal Christ to everyone who will enter a fellowship of true believers. Now to see Christ, does not mean that men will not be noticed. One of the most influential men in my life was Brother B. H. Clendennen. When he visited our church, he stayed at my house, I ate with him and I can tell you he was as normal as you or me. When he preached I heard him and I saw him, yet my testimony is that when I heard him preach, I saw Christ. I was given a revelation of Christ that I never had before.
This is what the church needs in this closing hour. She needs to be able to reveal the life-giving, sin-forgiving, Son of God to all who come looking for Him. Don’t let men walk away from your meeting just seeing you and the brethren. You may be real nice people. But people need the power of God. Pray that people will walk away knowing they have been in the presence of Almighty God.