The Dream of Real Church

The Dream of Real Church

In December of 2008, I began to see a different kind of church – one where people could be honest about where they struggled and still be accepted as fellow believers – so that they could truly grow and become more like Christ. Only 9 months later, God began something new. My wife,Teri and I found others who were seeking the same thing and we began meeting together in our home in Los Osos to find out what God wanted us to do.

There is a great need for the church to take sin and failure seriously enough to be safe concerning people who need help in the midst of it, without the stigma of being labeled a flawed person by self-righteous leaders.  Rick Warren, in speaking to a conference of Celebrate Recovery leaders in 2007, said: “There are only two types of people in the Body of Christ: those who are in Recovery and those who should be.”

He is right.  My son-in-law, Daniel, tells the story of a thriving church he was part of in Texas, where the founding pastor – beloved of his people – was found to be having an extramarital affair with a college student.  He was fired from his job and a new pastor came in, who was also a fine leader. But the church was stuck.  They could not move past what had happened.  The people were torn by grief and a lack of trust, and it showed up in a general lack of enthusiasm and involvement.

So, one Sunday morning the new pastor preached a sermon on mercy and the power of forgiveness and at the close of the service, he brought out the fallen pastor, sat him down in full view of the congregation, and washed the founding pastor’s feet.  Then he stood and told them that they HAD to forgive this man.

Healing for the church began that day.

In Isaiah, chapter 40, God speaks of:

3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Isaiah 40.1-5

The word translated “together” is the Hebrew word, “yachad.”  It does not mean together – as in standing in a group – like at an airport or a party.  It means together, as in UNITED AS ONE. “Yachad” is the same word used in Psalm 133.1 where it says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” The word together in this verse from Psalm 133 and the word unity both translate to the same word: “yachad.”  It is a situation where in English, it takes three words to describe one Hebrew word:  YACHAD translates to “TOGETHER IN UNITY.”

“The glory of the Lord will be revealed and all people shall see it, standing together in unity.”

This passage from Isaiah isn’t a geography lesson.  This passage is referring to PEOPLE. PEOPLE are the mountains.  PEOPLE are the valleys. PEOPLE are the rough ground. PEOPLE are the rugged places.

When the lowly are raised up, the prideful are humbled, the crooked are straightened out, and the aloof & untouchable become open and available to others – THEN the playing field begins to look much more level, doesn’t it?  And it begins to look like the Kingdom of God, doesn’t it?  And all these people standing together in the unity of Christ SEE the glory of the Lord revealed to them.  And this glory that we all witness together in unity is this:

We are all the same.

We all need love and acceptance.

We all belong – there is no one that doesn’t fit.

We are all in need of forgiveness and redemption.

We are all glad for the coming of our Redeemer, Messiah, Jesus Christ.

 

And on another level, Isaiah is talking about PLACES INSIDE OF US… places reflected in each of our souls:

  • Our areas of giftedness and brilliance need the touch of humility
  • Our areas of weakness, inadequacy, and failure need the lifting power of God’s love and grace imparted with love and grace
  • Our areas of dishonesty, fear, and control need to surrender to honesty and to stop trying to dominate & control others; we need to surrender our jealousy and our envy
  • Our areas of resistance to being open & vulnerable need to learn to trust and learn to endure pain instead of walling ourselves off from it.  Because when we wall ourselves off from pain, we wind up walling ourselves off from ALL emotion – including the ones we need the most: Love and acceptance

We all have these areas, don’t we?

If we, as the people of God, could just learn to level the playing field, and grab hold of a vision of the equality that each of us has in Christ’s Body – of which we are a part but never the whole; and if we also would learn to be comfortable in our own skin – not too IMPRESSED with our talents and not too DEPRESSED about our inadequacies; then when we stand together in that place of love and trust and esteem and humility and honesty and healedness and redemption and holiness and being filled with the Holy Spirit, THEN the awesome and unstoppable glory of God is revealed and we get it! This life is not about us.  It is about Christ and Him being ALIVE IN US.

This is the vision, the picture of what we believe God is doing in His people in this season of the 21st Century.  We deeply desire what He desires us to be.

So let us become everything He wants us to be in yachad, for THERE, Psalm 133:3 tells us, God commands His blessing!

 

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