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 "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

A friend and I were recently talking when he brought up the practice of the High Priest when he appeared before the Lord to offer sacrifice for the people. The priest would always leave the Lord's presence by a door different from the one he entered by. My friend said that this was symbolic for what should be the spiritual reality for anyone who has truly been in His presence. Leaving by another door symbolized the priests not being the same when he leaves as he was when he entered. It should be, must be, the same for all who profess to come before Him, be it in personal prayer and worship, or corporate, in the company of other brothers and sisters. Beholding we are changed. Yet, in what we call our "personal devotions," and "worship gatherings," is this what is actually taking place? If we are beholding Him in these times, we must be changed. If that is not happening, how can we lay any claim to beholding Him at all?

The church in the west has become far more a crowd of spectators than a body of participants in the glory of the Lord. And if we do participate, too often it is on a surface, emotional level, rather than a deeper, spiritual one. We're touched in the realm of feelings, but not in the depths of our souls. We can leave such times feeling excited and "fired up," but this doesn't last, and all that begins to fade even before the tires of our cars hit the main road. Our intellects may have been challenged, and our emotions stirred, but our hearts remain unchanged. Those things within us that keep us crippled and lame continue to do so. In a way, we're like the man at the Pool of Bethesda. We've been coming for a long time, privately and corporately, but nothing ever really changes. We're still crippled.

 

I'm not making a blanket statement concerning all churches, but the truth of this is undeniable. How else can we explain the number of lives within the Body that continue to live in defeated, crippled ways? Larry Crabb, in his wonderful book, Real Church: Does It Exist? Can We Find It? details how many pastors have confided in him, pastors that would be considered very successful, how discouraged and unfulfilled they feel not only in their personal walk, but with their ministries as well. Everything was running smoothly. Everything was going "well." Yet what was missing for them was the wonder and experience of living in His presence. The church, and it's life, had become far more an organization to be maintained, than a living, breathing manifestation of the His presence in the world, and to them. T. Austin-Sparks once said in effect, that the church doesn't understand anything that isn't planned, organized, and structured. As we look around, can we deny the amount of truth in that?

I make no claim on having all the answers in this, but it seems to me that the beginning of it all will be found when all of us, pastors, worship leaders, and the "priests in the pews" come before Him in any and all places with one desire only; to behold Him. Nothing less, nothing more.
Getting the song list played and the sermon preached aren't what it's about. Neither is counting the crowd or number who profess to have gotten saved that day. Paul said his one overwhelming life desire was to know Him. To behold Him. To behold the Christ he first beheld on the Damascus Road was the consuming desire of the rest of his life. Yes, he wanted to see the Body grow, lives saved and transformed, but all of that flowed out of his one desire. Beholding Him, Paul was changed. Beholding Him, we will be as well. We will be, if it is our one desire. Is it?

Blessings,
Pastor O

 

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