Preparing our Nets for Harvest
Recently I was invited by my friend Madison Brown to Elizabethtown College where she is a senior. She took my husband and me to a quaint coffee house in the downtown district that was so comfortable, casual, and wonderful that I felt as if I were stepping onto the 90’s screen set of Friends. I even looked around for Joey or Phoebe before realizing that I was in real life and with real friends! As Madison, Rick (my husband), and myself sat munching on vegetable chili, hot chocolate, and turkey sandwiches Madison shared what has been on her heart with us.
Growing up at a local church that was going through a split Madison found herself more than a little tossed about by the waves of hurt, tension, and abandonment that so often happen during these unfortunate events. Some of the same people that had been such strong and Godly examples in her life up until the split suddenly refused to acknowledge her or even share with her when she encountered them in public.
She was reflecting on this experience and processing the healing that God has done in her heart since this has happened. In the grand scheme of things she ventured out to ask an even deeper question: We pray for Revival but how can we expect this to happen without looking inside of ourselves and becoming the people we claim we want to be?
As the three of us discussed this question and the possible answers we were able to share in a place of vulnerability that you only see in the midst of God’s presence. Madison explained how in processing her hurt she decided that she was going to be spurred towards Christ-likeness. She determined to always think outside of herself and respond to those around her in love. She has grown into a woman that seeks to live the life in Christ that she longed to see in those around her as a child.
She explained that she heard a sermon preached once about a child that was at a wave pool in an amusement park. The child began to drown but all of the adults in the area were focused on themselves and whatever they were doing (socializing, sunbathing, reading) and no one realized the child was dying in the wave pool. This picture paralleled to the body of Christ and how often we are so focused on ourselves that we miss the bigger picture and the fact that there are very real people around us “drowning in waves” without the touch of God that we have been given the power to provide.
Perhaps it is time to look at some of the wounds we have received inside and outside of the body of Christ and decide we need to move on. Forgiving others, determining to become Christ-like ourselves, and actively pursuing our purpose in the Body of Christ may be the very key to a revival or fresh encounter in our country.
“So often we take ownership of the wrongs that are done to us,” Madison says, “but when we separate ourselves from them and realize we all make mistakes it is easier to get over it.” While our bad feelings may take time to go away, voicing our forgiveness to God and realizing that we too have been forgiven for much is step one to receiving the healing that our heart is crying out for. Once we have forgiven, we have to look at our lives and decide there will be “no wasted pain”. Learn from the hurt and allow Jesus show you areas in your life that you may be susceptible to hurt others in the same way. Through surrender you can become the person to bless those that need it the most.
Reflection comes before revival. Setting our hearts right in forgiveness and extending love to others will always precede any move of God. Rick Joyner in The Harvest writes, “It is by beholding His glory that we are changed into His image, which is the image the church is called to bear.” It is time that as a church we begin to reflect who Christ is and become the example of true love that the world is longing to see.
Madison believes that beyond forgiving we also need to be sensitive to our own actions and to who may be watching us from a distance. “It should be our hearts desire,” Madison writes, “to be intentional in our actions so that we don’t push someone away from the love of Christ.” Looking beyond our own hurts and realizing that we too may have hurt others can be a difficult thing to face. As we behold Christ we will reconcile our lives in a way that draws others to us (and therefore Christ) rather than creating a division.
I believe that God did not leave very specific instructions about the way His church was to be set up doctrinally for a reason. While the fundamentals generally are the same across denominations there are small differences in roles, offices, and specific presentations. Each is good for us and for where we are located in the body of Christ. While one church may be the finger of the body, another may be an elbow. I certainly hope my finger functions differently than my elbow! Both are good, both are my body, both are different. When Jesus returns I believe all of these minimal differences will fall by the wayside in light of His glory. We will no longer see these small differences because we will see how we come together in one larger body.
Where is your place in the body of Christ? What is your purpose? It is reported from surveys done at Christian conferences by MorningStar Ministries that fewer than 5% of all Christians know their purpose in the body of Christ. This shows how our body is not equipped for the task at hand. How can a body function if each part does not know its own purpose? How can our nets hold the masses of fish that are to be coming into them if we are not united and flowing together in love and discipline allowing each part to function the way he/she was created to and not the way we think they should?
Rick Joyner goes on in The Harvest to write, “One of the reasons so many Christians are ‘tossed here and there by waves’ is because they are not set in a body or connected as they should be. One cannot be set in the body rightly if they do not know their part and are not functioning as that part…..our teacher referred to the present church as being like living stones that were just piled up here and there instead of having been built together into the temple we are called to be. One can easily steal a stone off of a pile of stones, but once it has been cemented into its place in the temple it will not be easily removed.
Because we were called before the foundation of the world with our purpose, to not be able to function in that purpose breeds a certain frustration and discontent that has in fact been the real reason for much of the discord in local churches, and even many church splits….people would not be so upset about many petty things if they were not so generally frustrated by not knowing their purpose and not being able to function in it.”
Based on what he has written I came to realize that just now, after nearly 30 years of life, am I starting to walk in my calling in the body of Christ. And now that I am even in my baby steps of functioning in this purpose I feel a contentment that I never felt before! Suddenly everything else has fallen in my eyes and instead of seeing what is done wrong I see what He is doing right in our midst!
Jesus says in Matthew 24:44 “And whoever falls on this Stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom It falls will be crushed to powder [and It will winnow him, scattering him like dust].”
To fall on the stone and be broken, allowing God to search our heart so we can forgive, find our purpose in the body of Christ, and prepare our nets for harvesting is the first step. To be fishers of men our nets will need to be strong. As many of you know the greatest level of hurt can happen within the four walls of the church. I believe it is because the hurts received by fellow believers wounds our spirits directly and not just our minds. It is critical that we are all lined up and performing in our places so that when others more wounded than we can even imagine come to us there is a place free from discord and tension. The church is to be a safe place not just because of the presence of God but because of the people that represent Him there!
It is time to be bold and rise up to be who we were created to be. Allow healing to flow as you march forward. God desires for you to be healed. God desires for you to bring healing to others. As always, this journey will start on the inside.
Find your purpose.
Prepare the nets.