The Footsteps of the Master –
“The Spiritually Vigorous Saint
And the Spiritually Vigorous Church”
By Robert Mock M.D.
BibleSearchers Reflections, August 2004
Ephesians 4:12-13 – “Till we all come…to the measure
Of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
What amazement and awe we feel when we read and study about the invigorating lives of the apostles of Jesus. In the scripture and in historical documents, we witness the apostolic message surge throughout the Roman Empire. What was the source of that message sent to the nations of the world? What was the secret behind the perpetual spiritual vigor of the saints of Jerusalem’s Apostolic Nazarene Ecclesia (i.e., the Early Christian Church)?
In our own lives, we often struggle to duplicate and mimic the examples set by these apostles, hoping to capture their energy for our own spiritual growth and development. But, we often hit roadblocks, and, in frustration we ask, “Why can’t we be like them?” We want our lives to be spiritually invigorated. We want our church or congregation to be a spiritual powerhouse for the ministry of God.
A spiritually vigorous congregation can only exist when it is filled with spiritually vigorous saints. Often though, it is much easier for us to fall back on habits of spiritual laziness. For many of us, church activities seem pretty nice. We treat them like a retreat to a garden or neighborhood park, where we can shut out the constant noise and corruption of the outside world, cover our eyes and ears with our religious sombrero, and lay back with our church friends and with the Lord for a nice and peaceful siesta.
Truly, all of us do need time for rest, a Sabbath, a day to recharge our emotional and spiritual “batteries”. Where do we get the power and energy to become a spiritual powerhouse for the Lord? The spiritually lazy saint, rather than meet injustice face to face, would rather seek a moment of quiet prayer. The spiritually lazy saint rather than meet greed and power seekers face to face would rather emotionally escape and ignore that your brother and sister in Yahshua is being hurt.
So, how does a church create spiritually vigorous saints? One answer is that it doesn’t, at least not directly. Every prophet of old and every spiritually empowered ambassador for the Lord of hosts today spends time in isolated spiritual retreat that ultimately propels them over the edge and plunges them into a life of God-realization and God-actualization rather than just self-realization and self-actualization. Time and time again, spiritually vigorous saints stir the spiritual waters in churches rather than calming them. They carry God’s energy and wisdom for growth into the church and refresh the worldly, institutional nature of the church that otherwise is naturally doomed to staleness and entropy.
The spiritually lazy saint, rather than meet injustice face to face, would rather move to the ‘secret garden’ and seek a moment of quiet prayer. The spiritually lazy saint rather than meet greed and power seekers face to face would rather escape to a spiritual retreat or into church busyness and a brother or sister in Christ may be spiritually wounded by their inactivity.
Inside our religious masks, we ask and ponder alone those real spiritual questions about our religious life. Yet on the surface we participate in unison with all the rest of our congregation. We lead a schizophrenic spiritual life, one part alone and the other part in our corporate body of believers. Is it no wonder that we spend our time fighting and squabbling like a bunch of rival siblings as the nuclear church family is disintegrating around them?
There then comes a new revelation to us. We realize that we never shared our real spiritual questions with anyone else in church. All alone we searched for spiritual happiness and spiritual renewal.
One norm we might consider is that active church work as we know it may be the imposter of true spiritual activity. Try to stir up some of your congregational friends and you will find that many do not want to be stirred up. Oh yes, they are busy in all the church committees. They are packaging up beautiful retreats, seminars, evangelistic meetings, and health fairs. We question, are we too busy for the Lord? Is it possible that a lot of our busyness is that we are spiritually retired from the world and not ambassadors for our Lord emblazoned with the message of redemption and reconciliation with our God to the world?
When Jesus asks you, are you willing to go to the highways and byways for your Lord? Is your response rather, “Please, no, Lord! Don’t send me out to our secular friends and be an emissary for God! I’d rather do the work of the church somewhere else. Talk to my friends? NO! That is my secular life. I only want to give my religious life to Jesus.”
The spiritual life that Yahshua, the Son of the Living God lived and taught His disciples was not a life withdrawn, secluded and distant from the teeming masses and needs of humanity. Jesus plunged His life into the crowds of humanity with every ounce of His physical being. His retreats were spent in quiet revitalization with His Father while the world slept and then the next day He would plunge into the spiritual battlefield against injustice, greed, oppression, and religious arrogance. Yahshua fought out against institutional power and corruption. His assault on the money changers in the temple courtyard was an assault on the power, corruption and oppression of the largest institutional corporation in the province of Judea, Herod’s Temple, Inc.
Jesus did not spend much time in social and cultural changes. He let the Galileans live out their lives as Galileans, Samaritans as Samaritans and Judeans as Judeans. He taught His disciples to preach the “Good News” and demonstrate in real life how to live the “kingdom of God” in every social culture around the then known world. He taught them how to care for the poor, feed the hungry, nurture the depressed, and protect the weak, the widows, the orphans and the strangers visiting their community.
When the invigorated saint comes forth to test his spirituality, he comes face to face with ingratitude, power-seekers, insensitive people, and people with divisive personalities. The invigorated saint has to learn that the actions of many of the ‘takers’ in this world are cloaked with ‘serving humanity’. A lot of the injustice of this world is shrouded in ‘righteous vindication.’ ‘Greedy power brokers’ of this world may come with lavish donations and gifts of good will. He is saddened to learn that many workers in the church are the institutional movers and shakers but refuse to be personal ambassadors for Jesus Christ. So who are the spiritually emblazoned saints and what are they to do?
As the author of Hebrews stated;
Hebrews 10:24-25 – “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”
Surprise upon surprise, the real invigorated saint in your congregation may be an elderly grandma, a person outside your racial or social culture, a factory worker who worships with a tie-less shirt. It might come from a construction worker who lives next to a nest bed of social intolerance and injustice. It might come from a young wife within your church who realizes that there is no one in the church concerned with a floundering newly wed.
What the invigorated truly begins to perceive, the institutional church does not change the world, only the body of invigorating saints will change the world. Then the next reality begins to sink in; we are not members of a church! We are the church.
When the ‘spiritual fire’ is awakened within you, what should you do? Are you to start reading Spiritual Self-realization 101 or Institutions against Religious Injustice 101? The spiritually invigorated saint learns not to accept that he can live a spiritual life that is separate from his secular life.
The spiritually invigorated saint begins to recognize that life is not filled with random meaningless events that we call life. His spiritual eyes begin to show him that all ‘circumstances’ in his life are put there by a Divine Author who is guiding him step by step in his spiritual path of oneness with Jesus.
When the spiritually invigorated saint learns and becomes excited about learning the true ‘bread of life’ what does he do? He eagerly searches out his own friends. It makes no difference whether they are secular or religious. He goes to all with reckless abandonment, telling everyone he meets about the joy of his invigorating faith. This is the abundant life revealed in the life of a spiritual invigorated saint.
Will they take the message of their study to their church? Many times they will not. Many of them have learned that their church is too interested in doing church things. Their church is too interested in preening or propping up their institutional image.
How can we have a spiritual community? How can we be spiritually fed? We begin to understand that pampering our spiritual self with constant goals of self-realization may only lead to religious arrogance. We begin to understand that consulting our own emotional senses or belief systems only leads us to glorify our good works. But what is the spiritually invigorating saint to do?
You as a spiritually invigorated saint will not take the initiative towards self seeking, self realization or self-actualization. Rather, you will take the initiative towards knowing Jesus. Your goal is to know your Master and Savior, Yahshua and learn to listen to His “still small voice.”. Your goal is to be Yahshua seeking and actualizing the life of Jesus in the world that you live.
Your goal as an invigorating saint is to glorify Yahshua through your good works. Every menial task, every important mission, every dull assignment you will find purpose in glorifying Yahshua your Lord. This may occur dozens of times each day. It can be done in the grocery store, in conversation with a business associate, in a business luncheon, over a conference call or in consultation with another business associate. Your message, your testimony and your experience is not the purpose of your excitement in telling it to someone else. You want them to participate in the joy of meeting the same person, Jesus, who is now taking you to the fountain of knowledge.
Your duty is to focus your love and attention on the Son of God who came down to bring you a living image of His Father and your God. It is your duty to focus your listening on the ‘still small voice of Jesus’ who will guide and direct you to a realization of your relationship with Him. You will be a spiritually invigorated saint when you come to the realization that Jesus Christ is in every set of circumstances that you walk through your life.
When a group of spiritually invigorated saints meet together they become spiritually alive as a spiritually invigorating church. This congregation of invigorating saints, now as an invigorated church begins to realize that they are walking the steps of Jesus through their bodies on this earth. They will become spiritually alive when they become the voice of Yahshua to the hundreds of people they interact with every day. They will become a spiritual powerhouse when they are able to personally testify about their vigorous life with their Lord and through the testimony of their lives.
A spiritually invigorated church is not a religious self-seeking church. A spiritually invigorated church is a company of spiritually invigorated saints worshipping, praising and testifying to the miraculous interactions and interventions of Yahshua throughout the week in their life. A spiritually invigorated church is one that brings Jesus Christ in their lives to the here and now. The spiritually invigorated church witnesses weekly to the transformation of the social culture in the world of their believers. A church of a hundred invigorated saints who by their lives have transformed five other people now have five hundred people testifying to the power of the Living Christ living for a moment of time the ‘kingdom of God’ on this earth.
The power of the Spirit will transform spiritual people who have “eyes to see and ears to hear.” The power of the Spirit will never be able to transform a soul unless a spiritually invigorated saint allows his body and his life to be a vehicle for the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Give the Lord of hosts three hundred Gideons and a spiritual revolution will begin.