Chapter 8: Let Jesus Run the Meeting
IF Jesus is truly the head of the body, the Church, and He is really in our midst when we gather in His Name (Mt.18:20), then we had better let Him run the meeting. It is imperative that we be responsive to Him, rather than doing some great thing for Him, by singing and praying and “preaching.” We have a choice of whether to be responsive to the King of Glory Who’s in the room, or to run a meeting FOR Him and let Him know the results at the end. The latter is obviously not the way it should be. Don’t plan how and when and where you’re going to do some great thing in “next week’s gathering.” Studying Romans 3, praying all night, singing, sharing,…these all seem like spiritual things (and might actually be so), yet when they interrupt what Jesus, the Chosen One of God, wants to do, they are rude distractions.
Please! Don’t come in with everything all figured out in advance of the meeting. Though at times we may have an idea what His desire may be, Jesus is the only One who has the right to decide what we’re going to do. (I’m going to say more about that in a minute, so don’t get carried away with that point.)
For a good amount of time now, we, in the Church that God has placed my family in, have chosen to meet with Jesus as if He were telling the truth when He said He would be in the room as the Head of the Church. I am not advocating chaos, nor has there been chaos in the time we have yielded His Church back to Him in this way. Certainly you may from time to time know in advance of some teaching or exhortation that is pressing and needs to be brought to Jesus’ Church. I am not suggesting that informality, and lack of “considering how we might spur one another on to love and good works,” are inherently spiritual. I am saying that we can write Jesus right out of the script with our great ideas, songs, prayers and Bible studies, if we are operating with religious blindness. And I’m determined not to subject Jesus to that anymore if I can help it.
There have been times when I’ve come prepared to offer something to the Saints (even with xeroxed copies of something in hand) for four months, on probably 70 different occasions, and still have not shared it to this day. Everything must be subject to God’s timing, and not our intellect and preparation time. The rationale of the religious world is: “If I put in 40 hours preparing the “sermon,” and they’re expecting me to preach it on Sunday, I guess I’d better do it, shouldn’t I?” Not so in the Kingdom of God, where Jesus runs the meeting. A person can put in his 40 hours (preparing his life, not a “message”), but he shouldn’t assume that Jesus wants him to present a “sermon” FOR GOD on Sunday morning. (“Sermons” and “Sunday morning Services” are man‑made concepts anyway. At least if the Bible is the Standard that we are using.) That’s just not the nature of the Kingdom. Perhaps a teaching may be offered to the saints from a brother in the Family who has spent many hours in prayer and consideration of a particular Truth. God doesn’t, however, endorse everything on which we’ve decided to spend a lot of time. Your job is to prepare your life, not to prepare “sermons.” Prepare your life, not Bible studies. Hide your life in Christ, be filled with the Spirit and He will speak what HE pleases. If we do this, He’ll have earthen vessels who can do His Work.
If we allow the Word to become flesh in us, Jesus will be able to do His Work amongst us. He doesn’t need our “help.” Making plans five years in advance with little calendars of who, how, when, and where we’re going to do everything is a direct affront to Jesus’ current Lordship of His church. Can you imagine the Twelve doing that when Jesus was with them? (Generally though, this “script” is out of good intentions, rather than the other possible motivations of fear of failure, or pride and ambition to impress men).
The plans always sound so good. For example, an “all night prayer meeting on Wednesday, the twenty-third” sounds so respectable and spiritual. However, I know that you remember from your earliest knowledge of Jesus, that our Lord taught that if there is any relationship problem we are not allowed to pray. Remember? We are to lay our gift down and make that relationship right first. Clearly, prayer may not be what Jesus wants us to do on that particular night. If we are not open to that possibility, we’re going to miss a lot over time.
“What could possibly be wrong with regularly starting our meeting with thirty minutes of praise and worship?” some may ask. As one brother from Great Britain said, starting a meeting with thirty minutes of pre‑programmed praise and worship is no different than setting a planned time to kiss your wife. It’s a little shallow, don’t you think? At least ask your spouse what he or she would think!
I’d add that worship at a staged, pre‑programmed “worship service” can be fairly similar to kissing a television set that is projecting an image of a person that you love. The person you would be kissing looks about the same as the real person, and in a sense the kiss would be directed at the real person (not a different person that is a counterfeit), but it would still be far from the genuine article! Similar to pre-programmed worship, it just would not be the same as the spontaneous overflow of life, would it?
Everything must be subject to God’s Life and timing, and not our intellect, marketing expertise, flair for drama, or “preparation” time. If we choose to continue robbing the priesthood and man‑handling our direction in meetings to protect ourselves from mistakes, boring times, and coup attempts, it will be our loss. We will forfeit much opportunity for exploring the true Jubilant, Creative Zoe‑Life of the Father.
Lest anyone overreact (as some always do), there is also a right time to plan in advance. At times, such as when facilities must be rented (in certain instances, such as for a park, a campground, a gymnasium, a roller rink, or an auditorium), or tickets to an event purchased, planning in advance is a necessity.
I recall another instance when planning was necessary. I knew that God would have us tie up loose ends in regard to some things that needed to be taught in the church here. We planned to delve deeper into three half‑completed topics. As a church we just needed more illumination in these particular areas. I had read a Scripture, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” — and I became very convicted that all of the “open issues” that we had begun, such as specific teaching on “satan’s devices,” were incomplete and needed to be wrapped up. Bread from the Father is to finish His work, and sometimes it takes a degree of discipline to do that. And so it was very important to me that some of those loose ends be tied up. That was the first time in ages that anyone wrote up a schedule for the week. At that time, it seemed right and necessary to plan in advance (though it hasn’t happened since then). While we were all open to any other direction that our God might want to take us during the week, tying up loose ends was something that we were all pretty certain needed to happen that particular week.
There will be instances that gatherings might be arranged far in advance. Don’t rule that out in a legalistic sense any more than you’d lock schedules in systematically. My point is to be open to God. And don’t worry — the “communication problem” (calling the entire church together, even on short notice, even on a “school night”) is not such a big deal as someone might imagine. Particularly not if everyone is “seeking first the Kingdom” rather than trying to squeeze the Kingdom into their own sinfully cluttered lives and priorities. (If the church isn’t composed of Christians, Luke 14:33, it’s not really a Church anyway! Its “Lampstand” has been removed.)
Jesus wants a People of which He can truly be the “Head” — a “Body” that is as absolutely responsive to Him today, minute‑ by‑minute…as His physical body was to His head when He was here on earth in the flesh. No hesitation. No second-guessing!
47 The Bible is full of teaching about the Word of God not simply being something that can be apprehended and grasped by mere intellectual pursuit. Since the Spirit of the Living God authored the Scriptures, it is only (as Jesus and Paul both insisted) by the same Spirit that we can truly apprehend the Truths contained therein. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. They are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” It requires a life that is sanctified wholly to Him. Otherwise, we can aspire to be a great “Bible teacher” and be totally out in left field, as a judgment from God. “Some have wandered away from a pure heart, a good conscience, and an un‑faked faith and have wandered away into purposeless words. They are ambitious to be teachers of the Bible, but they have no understanding of the words they use or the subjects about which they make dogmatic assertions” (1Cor.2:11‑3:1; 1Tim.1:5‑7; 2Thes.2:10‑12; Mat.11:25‑27). These are statements of God’s ability and right to blind the minds of those who do not truly offer their lives to Him, but just try to reach the heights of God by building a Babylonian tower of religious words. It won’t work! Give Him your life first! Back
48 “Zoe” is the Greek Word that Jesus used to contrast the kind of life that people have without Him (animal, of‑this‑world, natural “psuche”‑life — the word that we have derived the word “psychology” from) with Life that is truly Life. His Life within those that put their trust in Him. Life that springs from Eternity. Life that existed in God and His Christ before the world was.
John 10:10-11: “I came that they might have Life (Zoe), and have it to the full…. The Good Shepherd lays down His life (psuche) for the sheep.”
There is no mistaking it — true Christianity, bought by the blood of the Lamb, is awesome! The very Zoe of God breathed into mere mortals (John 5:24-26, 3:15, 6:35, 6:63; Acts 3:15; Col.3:4; 1Jn.3:14; 2Cor.5:4; 2Tim.1:10). Back
49 James 4:13‑17; Mat.6:34. Back
50 Revelation 2:5. Back