“Nothing personal, just business.”
For too many churches this has become their church mantra. “Nothing personal, just business.” God’s House was never meant to be a business, and was always meant to be very personal. Statistics show the church is losing this country. Other countries now send missionaries to America! We are being called the post-christian America. But I believe for every church who sticks with the original recipe Jesus gave us, those churches still have that one river flowing from the throne of God, and those who find that river know they have found the “family” of God!
I’m sorry, but when Jesus said he must be about his Father’s “business”, he was not talking about starting a McDonalds, or any other business. He was talking about birthing a spiritual family! A personal connection to God that radically changes us! I believe we are in another visitation of God in which people are waking up to the need for “Home Relationships”, not “Shopping Mall Encounters”. True fellowship in the love of God! They want real and they want personal, and so did Jesus!
The original recipe is found with the original Apostles and those they discipled. But how many churches do you know these days teaching their people about those “original” years of the church? When Jesus spoke of his Father’s business, a more proper translation is: “to be about his Father’s affairs” and/or “in his Father’s courts”. What Jesus taught his followers was anything but “business as usual”.
In my opinion, I’m not a business man but, it seems to me Jesus was antibusiness and very pro-relationship. When he had crowds in his hands, he walked away to be with a few. When people were eating his every word, he then said something very hard, driving most away. The church he started did not even seek large buildings for 300 years, until a heathen Roman Emperor strongly offered such things. He sent his 70 out with practically nothing! It’s a wonder they even survived, let alone succeed. Money was never his focus, and when he did speak of it he mostly spoke of its evils.
Some business men would say you got to take care of your people first, and then success will come. But most those business men are referring to the “customers”! The “paying” customers! Just let someone become too much of a drag on the company and see how quickly there is a parting of ways. For Jesus, the “bottom line” was not about red or black ink. It was about saving man, whatever the personal cost. And the poor was to be treated even as the rich man.
We are in a VISITATION. Some people have been waking up for some time now, but the massive elephant in the room, the Modern American Church, continues to be the most visible, while smaller, family oriented, people oriented bodies of Believers are quietly getting back to the original recipe of God, and making a personal intimate difference in the lives of others.
I remember when the Star War movies suddenly revived, and everywhere I went I was hearing the words: There has been an awakening, have you felt it? I remember thinking, is God using Hollywood to send out a message to all those who have ears to hear? How do we know when we are in a visitation of God? Jesus looked at Jerusalem and said if only you had known the day of your visitation, but they slept on.
Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. As I was reading Ireneaus the other day, he pointed out that each of the times Jesus came back to his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, he found them sleeping. He tried to wake them, but each time they fell back to sleep, even unto the time of his betrayal, when the hour was upon them, then he commanded them to get up, for it was time for the Son of Man to be betrayed.
That moment was the beginning of a 3 day period equal to their worst nightmare! Peter even denies Christ 3 times that night, in order to live and not die. They went into fear and hiding. The hour of temptation was upon them, and they had failed to pray. But Irenaeus compared each of the times Jesus tried to wake them, as VISITATIONS from the Lord. I found this very interesting.
If we study Matthew 26: 36-46, we find Jesus actually separated the disciples into two groups. Of course Judas was not among them. In verses 36-37 we see he instructs eight of them to sit here, but then takes Peter, James, and John a little further on, closer to where he would actually pray. These three were like an inner circle of the inner circle with Jesus.
He told them to pray and keep watch with him. This does not look like a request, but more of a command, and yet they failed. The spirit is willing but our flesh is weak, and we fail so many times. He returns to them “three times”. In a sense, these were visitations of the Lord asking them to wake up and pray that they enter not into temptation. But each time they fall back to sleep. But notice, it appears Jesus only woke the “3”! It appears he only spoke to the “3”! He woke them twice! Two visitations! And then on the third visitation, he first tells them to sleep on, but then his betrayal arrives, and he commands them “Up”, my betrayer is here. At this point they physically have to rise, and the 3 days of horror begins. The spiritual battle is on.
Now I got this from Irenaeus who lived around 1,900 years ago. Evidently these guys were pretty smart, Biblically speaking. I also learned, if you check it out, prior to Samson playing with Delilah, it always speaks of the Spirit of God coming on him prior to one of his mighty acts, but after he begins his time with Delilah, those words cease to be said. Hhmmm. Interesting. Good stuff to note. Written by a man who sat under a man who sat under John who sat under Jesus Himself. Hhmmm. Irenaeus may be far from “our time”, but he was much closer to “Jesus time”. In my book that makes him a person of interest, as they say.
However, we make the point today, are we at the final visitation, when our Lord tells them to “sleep on”, but then his betrayer comes, (that day shall not come until the antichrist is revealed and there is a great falling away), and Jesus commands them to get up, because his betrayer is here? That last command to wake up and get up preceded three days of horror for the disciples, and all who loved Jesus. In Revelation we read that Satan is going to be given power over the church for a period of time. Whether these are people who did not pray in order to miss the hour of temptation, or what, I do not know, but it will be at least three years of horror!
If we are in such a visitation, are we in a 2nd Reformation? And who are the ones who will hear? It appears Jesus spoke to the inner circle of his inner circle. They should have passed that word to the others, but instead, let the others down, let Jesus down, and fell…back to sleep. Are our leaders doing the same today? Are we doomed to repeat history? Or can we be different? Are we trapped in a predestination we cannot change? I have to believe if God is visiting us, and if Jesus is speaking, then we have the chance to make a difference. Five of the Ten Virgins were able to light their lamps and shine. Five of the Ten were also taken. They escaped the hour of temptation. What a wonderful thing that would be.
This weekend one of our Fellowship was about to start with a new company in which he will be going back out over the road as a truck driver, and we will not be seeing him as much. We wanted to send him out right. Jason and I had a simple meal together, in his apartment, with his little dog, Zach, and that meal flowed into the sharing of some Matzah bread I made with my own hands, and some juice. We had the Lord’s Supper. We took Communion together. It was very “personal”. It was nothing like business as usual. I prayed for him. I asked God to send angels with him. And the Presence of God showed up so strong that neither of us could even speak for a few minutes! I can’t remember the last time I have felt God’s Presence that strong, and I have felt His Presence more than a few times, but something was special, God was very pleased in this simple thing we had done.
SO…if we are in his last visitation. If this is the last time he is telling us to rise because the church is about to be betrayed, the church (his body), nailed to a cross! Are you ready? Are you awake? Have you gone back to what Jesus DID? There has been an awakening, have you felt it?
Stop short-forming God’s Word, God’s Way, and God’s Will! Stop making a business out of his House! Get back to personal, and family. Get back to real and true! Get back to what God hath said and Jesus DID do! Love the Lord God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Love upward first, and outward also. It is a sacrifice. It is a cross. But that’s what true followers of Christ do. It’s just the way we roll.