Meanwhile, Down In Pleasantville…


I love the Body of Christ!  I love the children of God in all of their many forms, fashions and facets!  I love the quiet worshipers and silent prayers. I love the loud, boisterous and demonstrative saints. I love the serious, thinking, diligent servants. I love the inconsistent, inattentive, forgetful children, who haven’t quite yet figured out where they fit in, so they hop from ministry to ministry.  I love the artisans: the painters and actors; the dancers and singers, whether they serve in secular venues or serve the church proper. I love how we are all so different and yet it is the same Love of God that saves us all and enables us to love each other and the dying world we were sent to serve.

Yet, there are whole groups of Christians who seem to have no identity of their own.  They are going through the motions of their faith, doing as they were instructed, not living up to the call of God on their lives and living in quiet desperation.  These are the sleepwalkers in the body.

You have some in almost every church.  They received salvation and want to do what pleases God, but they don’t really know what it is.  Oh, they know to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. They just don’t know what that looks like for their individual life. So, they walk out their faith like the next person…after all, it’s working for them.  But, what is working for one is not suitable for another, it just lulls you into a false sense of righteousness and basically sings you to sleep.

The problem with that is we will all be judged on whether or not we have fulfilled the call on our own lives as individuals.  We will not be rewarded for how well we fulfilled their assignment…God’s going to check us on what we did with what HE assigned us to do. For some of us, that will be a pretty scary prospect. What do you do, when you have lived your entire life for Jesus, but you felt personally unfulfilled and never took the opportunity to do the things that God placed on YOUR heart to do? Do you keep living life according to the status quo?  Maybe…if you want to get to heaven and, instead of hearing, “Well Done, good and faithful servant,”  you just end up hearing, “Well…?”

Some churches are comprised almost entirely of this kind of Christian. It’s pretty sad, really.  People going through the motions of ministry..sleepwalking for Jesus.  Greeting you at the door.  Reading the scripture. Singing the hymns. Raising the offering.  All, sound asleep. And when someone who is walking in the liberty of their assignment walks into a church like that, it takes a move of God AND Congress to keep you awake!

Makes me think of the movie, Pleasantville.  This modern-day brother and sister get sucked into the rerun marathon of a television show that was filmed in black and white, based in the 1950’s. They have to blend in and hide out until they can figure out how to get back home.  Problem is, the sister is a wild child and refuses to play along and she throws a monkey-wrench into the storyline by letting the boyfriend of one of the main characters take her to “make out point.”  That’s where the story goes totally lop-sided.  This wild child turns this boy out (we are allowed to draw our own conclusions about the fine details), and when she is finished, the boy is in color while the rest of the scenes and people remain in black and white.  You can see the snowball effect of that.  Now, some people go about doing things that deviate from the script and find themselves in color, too!  But for some reason, the modern-day siblings don’t come into color, until they become and behave like their authentic selves instead of following the storyline.

You can imagine the resistance that takes place in the movie from the people who want things to stay the same.  They want the world that is familiar.  They like the routine; they;re used to it. Why would anyone not want their lives to remain “pleasant’?

I am saddened by people, groups, churches, denominations that get stuck in a script.  They do what they know and what they are told, without finding out exactly who God meant for them to be. It’s a scary thing to question why we can only sing hymns. Or to feel the strong urge to waive your hands and say, “HALLELUJAH,” at the top of your lungs, knowing that if you do you will be frowned upon or asked to leave.  Or to want to express your worship by painting some abstract art, knowing that everyone around you will reject your worship, but feeling in your SOUL that God is pleading for you to show Him how much you love Him through the gifts that He’s given you.

WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS, THERE IS LIBERTY.  Isn’t it amazing how many people miss that scripture? Wouldn’t that be the best criteria to determine where you want to worship, when given the opportunity? Shouldn’t this be the standard to which everyone in the body of Christ strive to measure up?  Am I in a place where I am free to be the person God designed me to be?  Are there others around me who are, in the spirit of their authentic selves, encouraging me to discover who God is calling me to be?

There is a FEAR OF LIBERTY that has permeated the church.  So many people equate liberty with rebellion.  It does not necessarily follow that, if you give the people the freedom to be themselves, they will all be drawn away by lust, or become inconsistent, or leave the church high and dry so that the work of the Lord cannot move forward. ON THE CONTRARY…each person that serves the Kingdom in the spirit of liberty in Christ is more passionate about the services they perform in the church and more joyful about their relationship with God and with His people, which makes them a more convincing witness.  If the joy of the Lord is your strength, and walking in liberty brings you joy, then it stands to reason that those who walk in that liberty are stronger Christians whose light shines brighter and draws more attention from the world, “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven,” on a much greater level.

What is God calling you to do?  What demonstration of your love for Him have you suppressed for fear of another’s response? Have you been given some talent that other people say should not be expressed, because it is too secular?

What are you going to do…hide your light under a bushel so that you don’t attract any attention? Or are you going to walk in the Liberty of the Holy Spirit and express your gifts and talents like a drink offering, poured out before the Lord?

Maya Angelou recently passed away.  She was not the least bit diminished in her mental or spiritual health.  To her very last, she was tweeting and speaking to people and giving of herself.  Her son posted on her Facebook page that the family was, “…extremely grateful that her ascension was not belabored by a loss of acuity or comprehension.” I am convinced that this is a direct result of her living her life in living color, full of the Liberty of the Spirit of the Lord.  This woman poured everything out…she was finally light enough to ascend from her last earthly Glory into the fullness of the Glory of the Lord, to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant: Enter now into the joy of the Lord.”

Isn’t that what we all want to hear? Then I recommend you run the risk of feeling foolish and dance, sing, act, paint, speak, pray, love, dream and do ALL that God has placed in your heart to do. Be faithful over those few things…those gifts and talents He has trusted you with. Cause them to grow and multiply.

Meanwhile, down in Pleasantville…another one has come into full and living color. How about you?

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