Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Prosthetic Christianity

I was on my way out of the building just as he was on his way in. He was standing at the bottom of the stairs and seemed very unsteady on his feet. I walked down to where he was and turned to look back up the stairs before I spoke. “Awww man, I cannot believe I forgot to get that” Looking over at him I asked, “I want to get back up those stairs but I have just ran out of steam, can you help me?”
He looked at me through aged gray eyes and said, “Son, I think you forgot whatever you forgot on purpose, but I would be more than happy to help you up there if you help me.”
He explained as we went up the flight of stairs that he had lost his leg a few years back to diabetes and that he was having a very hard time adjusting to life with a prosthetic limb. “They look good these days, and they function alright and are easy enough to control, but they cannot replace the real deal son. My feet gave me problems and they did not do what I wanted them to do at times but at least they were still my feet, and as much as they hurt every now and again, they were valuable to me because they were my feet.”

My mind immediately went to the passage of the Bible where Paul compares the Body of Christ (The church) to a human body.

I had a Believer contact me some time back with a question of whether or not they should leave the church body that they were trying to function within. They were really wanting to utilize the gifts that they had been given and it was obvious that they had a particular gift given by God.They were told by the pastor of that church that because they failed to meet all of the requirements that the pastor had set in order to serve within the church they would only be able to do tasks within the church that he decided they were qualified to do.

As luck would have it, that pastor had decided to utilize them only in the areas that he was having a hard time keeping people. IF they stopped serving in these areas then it was “proof” that they were only wanting to serve in order to be “seen of men and not because they truly loved the Lord”. (At least that was the reasoning that he presented to this person.)
It was twisted theology at best and it simply boiled down to this pastor’s desire for control. He had a certain look that he had seen somewhere and he had decided that what he had seen was the kind of look that he wanted his church to appear to have. I am sure that he loved the Lord but it was very clear that he was operating out of his own ability and strength rather than letting the Holy Spirit control and direct.

I simply told this person what Paul said about gifts and their use within the body and asked them if God had led them to that church or was it for any other reason that they chose to be part of that body. I then said, “If it was any other reason that prompted you to join that body then you need to seriously ask the Holy Spirit to lead you where He can utilize your gifts and callings that were given without repentance.”

"For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;" ~Romans 12:4-6

The answer that they gave me was very revealing about why and how the decision to attend that particular was made.

What would you call it when you are only able to operate and serve the Lord within man made preset confinements and regardless of your God designed purpose for that body you were only able to operate as a member of the body that a man and not the God of the universe was allowed to determine?
"but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
                                                                                         ~ 1 Corinthians 12:11-13

I call it Prosthetic Christianity.
Isn't that what the body is for? Utilize the parts?
If you think about it, Trying to force control over a BODY PART IS ONLY SOMETHING YOU CAN DO WITH A PROSTHETIC LIMB.

The "Body" then begins to take on the resemblance of a robot with awkward and robotic movements. The members become empty, hollow, not real or even genuine, but controllable in the confines of its set mechanics. Most churches operate with Prosthetic limbs each week. People who are being made to operate in the way deemed acceptable by one person.
(Usually the pastor, his college affiliation’s preferences, or in some cases even the pastor's wife)
The point is this; it is not God doing the placement of the member or even God utilizing the member but rather man deciding how a member should be used. Fine business practice for a corporate business but poor ideology for a living organism such as the church at least Christ seemed to think so.
In the corporate world, my performance decides my acceptance and my acceptance determines my value. Is this God’s mindset? What have we ever been able to do to merit God’s acceptance and even more so a value to Him?
God’s way and corporate America’s way are at opposite ends of the pole. Using corporate philosophies and programs our churches become filled with empty people that continue to experience empty life.
But we had a full parking lot right? God must be blessing!!! How much money came in between services or between Sunday school and Church? Good day or bad day, the golden offering orb will decide. We had a great offering!!! God must be blessing right?”
So did every major theme park and water park in the United States, I guess God is blessing them as well. That mentality just has no place in God’s kingdom.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." ~Ephesians 2:10

You see we were hardwired with a message that is unique to each of us and we were given gifts and personalities especially designed to allow us to convey that message. The Holy Spirit is our teacher and He alone directs us in that growth process. There is no “Worker’s Agreement or Worker’s Contract” that can duplicate the power of the Holy Spirit.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." ~Romans 12:1-3

The signed paper that acknowledges to the leader that we will play by his rules in his organization teaches us to CONFORM. When conforming becomes the standard by which we find value and acceptance than we have lost sight of who we are and the reason why we have been called.
The Holy Spirit on the opposite end of the spectrum teaches us how to TRANSFORM and this is done through His teaching and through His timing. There is a difference between the two contrary to popular opinion. Conforming is preferred because conforming is faster than the time needed, discipleship and prayer that is involved with transforming.
The bottom line is that God has created you to be in His presence. Once you become a child of God, the Holy Spirit of God indwells you and desires to teach you about Him! He shows you the message that you were given to speak with your life and He teaches you how to use the gifts that God personally gave you in order to do that task.
I never want to be contented and settled to ignore my calling and gifts that were given by God to equip me to express Him to the world around me, and neither should you.

There is a phrase I have heard my entire life that comes to mind; “Only one life and it will soon be past, only what is done THROUGH Christ will last.”
You may be the foot, the hand, the eye, or any other equally valuable part and even if you cause pain to the body while you grow into your role, you are still His member. It is only through His members will He be free to work and move.
Anything outside of Him is manufactured stage magic that the world can not only duplicate but perform better.

Ask the Holy Spirit today to speak to you about your role in His body. If a man tells you different and you accept that, than please understand that it is you that have chosen something else over the Holy Spirit's leading.

Climbing with you,

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