If you find yourself more drawn toward prayer than promotion, more toward humility than hype, you are being prepared by the Lord for the glory of God. What He is working in you is typical of what God is establishing in thousands of other believers.
However, before the Father ultimately reveals Christ as Lord over the earth, He will first reveal Him as Lord over the church. And while we should rejoice, we must also take heed. For until we are standing face to face in glory with Jesus Himself, we are going to be in transition. To each of us, Christ's call remains, "Come, follow Me!" (Luke 18:22). If we will walk with Him in obedience, He will take us into the fullness of His presence.
Still, transitions can be frightening. The uncertainty of those passages between spiritual plateaus can hold us hostage to yesterday's blessings. Let us recall with godly fear that the bronze serpent, which brought healing to Israel in the wilderness, by Hezekiah's day had become an idol that had to be torn down.
Our hearts must bow to God alone, for even spiritual gifts, when isolated from Christ the Giver, can become idolatrous. Therefore to successfully navigate this season of change, the Lord will require of us a fresh surrender to His Lordship. He will demand that our preconceived ideas and expectations be submitted to Him. For if we are continually telling the Holy Spirit where we expect to go, we neutralize our capacity to hear where He wants to take us.
Christ in Us
To better understand the changes God is initiating in the church, we are going to study the life of Mary, Jesus' mother. More than any other woman, God had blessed Mary. She alone was granted the wondrous privilege of giving birth to the Son of God.
While the Lord's promise and purpose with Mary were unparalleled, in two significant ways His promise to us is similar. First, even as Mary received Christ into her physical body, we have received Jesus into our spirits. And second, as she birthed Christ, our quest is to see Jesus unfettered from the womb of our religion about Him. Our destiny is not just to carry Christ inside but to reveal the fullness of His glory in this world.
Even now, abiding within our spirits, deeper and more profound than our church doctrines, is the actual Spirit of Christ. The consequence of this union of Christ's Spirit with our spirits expands the original seven Creation days into the eighth day. We are new creatures in a new creation (Gal. 6:15). In this new beginning to God's eternal plan, Jesus Christ is the firstborn of a new race of men (1 Cor. 15:45).
As Jesus was both God and man, so the church is actually the dwelling of Christ in the temple of man. There is not a different Jesus in us than He who dwells in Heaven. He is Christ wrapped in glory in Heaven; He is Christ wrapped in our human flesh on earth.
Our salvation is nothing less than the Perfect One dwelling in the imperfect ones, the Almighty abiding in the feeble, the All-Sufficient God dwelling among insufficient people. This is the mystery and glory of our salvation: Christ in His completeness has extended Himself into our lives!
Crucial to the success of His mission is our receiving these truths with faith, determining that they shall be our reality, not just our theology. It is here, in this carrying of the actual presence of Christ within us, that we share with Mary the awe of God's purpose for us.
Jesus in Subjection
While Joseph was a good man, it was Mary who nurtured Jesus and continued to raise Him after Joseph died. In fact, we shall see that Mary became the matriarch of the family. Uniquely, under her spiritual influence, Jesus matured. It was natural that over time Mary would consider herself the Keeper of the Vision, Guardian of Him Who is to Come, for in truth she was.
"And He continued in subjection to them" (Luke 2:51). This is an astonishing thought--Jesus, Lord of Heaven, in subjection to a lowly carpenter and his wife. Yet if we think about it, is it not equally astonishing that the rule of Christ in His church is, at least in part, subject to our initiatives? He submits Himself to our schedules and to our service times. He works within the confinements of our weaknesses and temperaments. Yet, we should honestly ask ourselves, is it a voice fromh eaven or the traditions of earth that determines how long we shall worship Him on Sunday morning?
If the Lord so decided, in an instant He could reveal His majesty and draw trembling surrender from all mankind. However, He restrains Himself, choosing not to intimidate but to inspire our obedience. He has chosen to hide His glory not from us but in us. And then, in order to perfect our character, He subjects Himself to our initiatives of hunger and faith.
However, the fact that Jesus will accommodate and submit Himself to the conditions we offer Him does not mean that He has approved of our limitations upon Him. The standard of the church is not the church; it is Christ. This is our present dilemma: Just as Jesus subjected Himself to Mary and Joseph and they became, for a time, the vision keepers, so we have assumed that Christ will continue to exist in subjection to us.
He will not. For as Jesus arises in His Lordship, to save us He must first deliver us from our efforts to control Him.
A Time to Let Go
It is significant that Mary still exercised matriarchal supervision over Jesus even after He was a mature man. At the wedding feast in Cana we find Jesus, His disciples, and Mary, the vision keeper. "They have no wine," Mary told her son. Jesus answered, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come" (John 2:3-4). In spite of what Jesus just said, Mary tells the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it" (v. 5). While I am amazed at the fact that the Father worked through Mary's orchestration of this miracle, the fact is, Jesus did not come forth to do the will of His mother but His Father. It was time for Jesus, Mary's son, to begin His ministry as Jesus, God's Son.
A significant and necessary reversal of authority was needed in Mary's relationship with Christ--a change that she had not anticipated. In her mind, her sense of influence was simply a continuation of her God-given responsibility as vision keeper.
The problem of control worsened after the miracle at Cana: "After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days" (John 2:12). The verse reads, "He and His mother" went to Capernaum. Do you see? Mary, the keeper of the vision, has taken what she thinks is a legitimate position, an earned place of influence, with Christ.
In defense of Mary, she clearly has been with Jesus the longest; she has paid the highest price. More than anyone, she has heard the Word and believed it; her faith has borne Christ Himself! She has magnificently served the purposes of God. Perhaps she had every right to think that Christ could work the miracles as long as she remained a guiding influence. Her continued mothering was not evil but natural.
However, God had determined it was time for Jesus to be unfettered from all human influences of control. Jesus would now only do the things He saw His Father do.
This, I believe, is where God is jealously directing us: We are being emptied of our agendas, false expectations, and nonbiblical traditions so that Christ alone will be Lord over the church. God is requiring a fresh surrender of the vision keepers.
About the author:·Francis Frangipane is the founder of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and has traveled throughout the world ministering to thousands of pastors and intercessors from many backgrounds. In June 2009, he retired from his position as senior pastor of River of Life Ministries and is devoting himself to prayer and the ministry of God's Word. To read more teachings by Francis or to learn more about his ministry, go to www.frangipane.org.