by Scott MacLeod
"Pioneers who are compelled by their vision often must break ranks with the religious status quo to explore new regions" --Rick Joyner.
To some, this quote may sound like a divisive, or even offensive statement. It is not intended to be taken negatively, and whether we like it or not, it is indeed true. If we understand the different ways that the Lord uses his people, we know that throughout Church history there have always been ones that the Lord sends ahead of the rest. Many times they are called to go outside of the camp, or sometimes are forced to go out, to prepare the way for a next movement of His Spirit, for the Spirit of the Lord is progressive. In the Scripture He is compared to a river of water and wind, ever moving and ever flowing. We as believers literally follow Him because he is moving and actually going somewhere.
Not one of us can be in two places at once. If God has called us to "go out" then we cannot stay where we are. But this does not have to cause division in the ranks of those who are called to stay, if we can learn to understand this process. Throughout the story of God's people, the Lord himself sends people out to survey and scout out new spiritual territory while others hold the camp. And throughout Church history there has been conflict and misunderstanding between these two callings of the "pioneer" and the "settler". The Lord is about to bring harmony and appreciation between these diverse callings, because we are going to need each other like never before in the days that are soon coming upon the earth.
There is a unique calling the Lord places on certain individual's lives to venture out into new land. To be called to spy out the land is a truly noble mission. We must understand that to be called to do anything for our King, whether it be perceived as great or small by man, is the highest honor any of us can walk in. Obedience is the high way of the Lord, and to walk in it is to walk with Him. In fact, the only way to spell true success in the Kingdom of God is joyful obedience. We will all someday be judged on the fact of whether or not we did what the Lord told us to do. And we must understand this pioneering call does not make one any better than anyone else. If it is anything, it is a great and serious responsibility. Much will be required of those the Lord sends out to explore new spiritual prospects, because what we do and say will effect many people in the coming move of the Lord.
THE GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
Just think for a moment of the awesome responsibility given to the twelve spies who were sent to check out the Promised Land. There were ten of them who came back with a negative report. Their unbelief and fear caused a whole generation to ultimately perish in the desert. Not only did all the adults of the nation fall in the desert, but these ten spies suffered extremely serious consequences themselves because they did not believe that God was bigger than all the giants that dwelled in the land.
"So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it- these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD." (Numbers 14:36,37) We see here that those who are sent to see things that are yet to come for the body are held accountable by the Lord for the report that they spread. The Lord was ready to move, and those who didn't have the faith to go where He was leading them were sentenced to die in the desert, and the Lord raised up their children in place of them. And this is still true today; it takes childlike faith to follow the Lord into our Promised Land.
A GOOD REPORT IS NOT ALWAYS WELCOMED
We see in this account that the two spies who came with the good report were about to be killed by all the people. "Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, 'The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.' But the whole assembly talked about stoning them ... " (Numbers 14:6-10).
A fact that is surprising to many when they first discover it, is that pioneering for the Lord is not always accepted or even appreciated by many in the church who would rather stay where they are. There are Christians who are quite content and comfortable to stay in the desert because things are working pretty well for them there. The offering is up, the sermons are good, the attendance is high … but the Lord is moving on!
People often resist change. Just look at the fierce opposition Jesus and the apostles had to face with such religious men. One of the byproducts of truly following Jesus means that we will be used often to bring about great change in men, and in their systems. Even His apostles were known as the men who "turned the world upside down." Mark these words - not everyone appreciates this change, or the ones that bring it. But we too are called to follow in His footsteps and are commissioned to be transformers of our world, just as light absolutely transforms darkness.
The story of the Saul and David is also a biblical picture of the clash of two generations or two movements. The former movement, "Saul's kingdom," was anointed and established by God and functioned well until the younger, newer movement of David was anointed with power and started to be recognized by the people. Then instead of supporting or Fathering what the Lord was doing in the younger generation, which would have added to Saul's glory, he chose to become jealous and to resist and eventually even try to kill the new king that the Lord was raising up. He found himself fighting not only against David, but against God. And ever since, the history of the Christian Church has repeated this scene over and over. David still honored Saul even though he was constantly being hunted and persecuted by him. Today's spiritual pioneers must do the same. They must honor the Spiritual father's no matter how they are treated.
If these new movements are not fathered by the former movement, they will be ignored, resisted and eventually persecuted. We must take on the Lord's heart to Father and nurture these immature and even inexperienced ones or there will continue to be, as there is now, many spiritual abortions, and illegitimate children running for their lives as David had to for many years. But the Lord himself will take these little ones under His wing and will be a Father to the fatherless.
ONE BODY — DIFFERENT ASSIGNMENTS
"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Rom. 12:4,5) We who are part of the universal church of Jesus are one body with many different pieces. There is a vast variety of functions with this Body, but we still belong to one another! No matter how we slice it or dice it, we who are in Jesus are one!
Each of us has been given not only different gifts, but also different assignments. I believe that no two person's assignment is the same. They are as different and as our fingerprints. Some of us are called to go out and blaze new trails, while some are called to occupy that land that has already been taken. One is not better than the other. Both are vital and interdependent on the success of the other. Newly explored land would be of no use without those who are called to come and settle it. We in the church must come to an understanding and appreciation of this fact, or there will continue to be many divisions and hurts and we will continue to be carnal Christians. And probably the most tragic thing is that we continue to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God," by whom we have been sealed for the day of redemption.
Those who are called to go out and find new land must not become critical of those who are called to occupy the land. There is a tendency for pioneers because of wounds of neglect and misunderstandings to develop an independent and rebellious spirit. This too is futile and harmful. As painful as it may be at times, both need each other. Trust must be rebuild were there has been breaches in relationships. For if new spiritual advances are not properly supported, settled and occupied, then the new ground taken soon falls back into the hands of the enemy. But on the other hand, if we stay in one place too long when the Lord has moved on, then we can soon become stagnant and lifeless.
The nature of pioneering lends itself to the younger generation, but it is not exclusive to them. Remember, it was the "children" of Israel who were allowed to enter the Promised Land. Regardless of our age, we must all remain young at heart. Jesus said that we must become like children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. One thing that is common to all children is the fact that they are ever growing and changing. We are all called to venture out in faith. Spiritual pioneering is not just for the young, but for the young at heart. It is a great adventure!
We begin to judge others when we are intimidated, fearful, or jealous of those who are different from us. Judging and competition, which comes from our own insecurity and pride, will someday be exposed in us all by the light of the true Judge. Therefore it is best that it all comes out of us now while we still have time to repent …and change. For Jesus, who sees the heart, said in Matt. 7:1, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." It seems that most of us don't really believe these words, or that we are not properly walking in the fear of the Lord. If we were, our conduct, our words and our attitudes would be vastly different.
The Word of God warns us "...each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." (Rom.14:12,13) We must consciously decide to "make up our mind" that we will not become a stumbling block or an obstacle to our brothers. This is a pre-determined condition of the mind, and the heart. All we do and say, and the motives propelling us, will someday be brought into the light of His righteous judgment. The Lord sees each of us with His holy x-ray vision right this very moment. Nothing in us is hidden to His eyes.
Why do we judge our brothers and not heed these wise words of Paul, "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you..." (1 Thess. 4:11). We spend entirely too much time judging and inspecting one another's business. Too often critical suspicion has replaced Godly discernment and intercession. We need to learn to mind our own business and to whole heartedly build what the Lord has commissioned us to build. If we were doing this with all our might, we wouldn't have the time or energy to keep on messing with other people's assignments. If we compare this behavior to the human body, this is like the heart becoming more concerned with the ankle's performance than concentrating on its own special function and task of pumping blood. What does a heart know about ankle business anyway? The whole body would quickly suffer, and it does, if this dysfunctional behavior is allowed to continue throughout its members.
Jesus calls us to humble ourselves, but never to humble our brothers. The Father has His own perfected ways of dealing with, and discipling His children. This is His business, not ours. Because of our flawed ability to judge accurately, we are called by the Lord to first test ourselves and then, only after that, are we called to help remove specks from our brothers, and that is to be done with greatest love and care.
LOVER COVERS AND SUPPORTS
"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?" (Rom. 2:1-3)
We are commissioned by our Lord to help carry one another's burden, and to even honor others above ourselves. But all too often instead of fulfilling these great commands we have instead become one another's greatest burdens, and have greatly dishonored one another, and have therefore exposed ourselves. For to expose our brother is to expose ourselves. But God's kind of love -- covers!
When the church becomes a safe enough place, then the world will be attracted to us, and the lost will be compelled to come in by the multitudes. Make no mistake about it, the lost are watching how we treat one another more than they are listening to what we say. The proof is in the pudding. How we treat people is our greatest sermon or message to our culture. Our actions are always our real message, and the best interpretation of what we believe.
Talk is cheap, and preaching is easy compared to living the selfless and sacrificial life that each of us who carry the name Christ is called to live. For us to begin to really love the way Jesus did is a high price to pay. It is something that few of us are currently accustomed to spending. But it is primarily by our love and treatment of each other, not our programs and meetings, that the world will know if we are the real thing - His disciples. Sinners know that if they come in to the church they will be treated the same way that we treat one another. This is scary to many because religious people can be some of the meanest and even most selfish people around.
Whether we know it or not, or whether we have the honesty to admit it, this is the very reason that so many people stay away from religious circles. Multitudes have been wounded in the on-going "Civil war" of the church, and are now out there looking for peace and safety. Multitudes are currently and deliberately looking for Jesus outside of the Church. A loveless, cold-hearted church is really no church at all. They can get that treatment in the world while having more fun. Of course we know that they are still miserable and empty without Jesus, but many times there is more love, comradeship and honesty found around the bar of the local pub than found in many pews of the local church.
WALKING IN THE LIGHT OF LOVE
"Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him." (1 John 2:10,11) May we never forget, that it is all about love … the Christian walk is all about love. We are called to "follow the way of love" in all matters and in all of our relationships. We are exhorted by our Lord to do unto others what we would like them to do to us. If we ever stop loving, then we are in grave trouble. John writes that we are actually in darkness and that we have become blind, but the one who loves walks in God's pure light and there is no stumbling in him -- his steps are sure.
None of us can make it alone, and we cannot really cut each other off, for we are all one in Jesus, but we can sure hurt and destroy each other. If one of us is hurting and not making it too well, then we all should feel it and have great concern, just as we would if a member of our own body was injured. When we stub our toe we don't try to cut it off, we carefully nurse it back to health. "As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' ... 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Cor.19:20-26)
GOODWILL — OR ENVY AND RIVALRY
In Phil.1:15 Paul wrote, "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love ... The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me ..." Have you been stirring up trouble for the servants of the Lord who are trying to be faithful with what the Lord has commissioned them to do? Most are doing the best they can with what they know, and yet we are resisting them and standing in their way. If any of us have been doing this, we have been deceived! We need to repent now and make things right.
According to the Scripture we just read above, those who have pure motives are sincere, full of love, and they exhibit goodwill toward all of mankind. They want to see others make it! They don't just look out for their own interests, but also the interests of others. They are not bitter judges, but rather humble exhorters. Are we willing to help and pray for young pioneers who might be making many foolish and even selfish mistakes in their attempts to share Jesus? They may not live up to our standard, but they don't have to. We must never forget that we were all foolish and selfish at one point. These pioneers need our wisdom and blessing.
Can you prophetically see that raw, unrefined potential and unlimited energy in these forerunners who are really crying out for someone to come along side them, and believe in them just as the Lord has done for all of us? Or will we shoot them down as they are in stride because they are different from us and are not fully mature, or because they don't march in our parade the way we want them to? There is an old saying, "You can recognize the true pioneers because they are the ones with all the arrows in their back." It seems funny at first, but I don't believe that the Lord is laughing, for sadly there is entirely too much truth to this.
What wicked deception Satan has pulled over the church that we would resist and fight against and put obstacles in the way of those whom the Lord is sending out for our own future benefit. Whether we like them or not, or even understand them, we cannot escape the fact that we need them. And they, in turn, need us. The generations must connect and learn to support and appreciate one another. God is insisting on this, or we will continue to suffer these grave consequences. "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:6) Because of this breach of the generations, we have been suffering under a terrible curse in our land that has flooded much of the church as well.
Who will break this vicious and destructive cycle? Where are the Fathers who will selflessly come forth and touch a fatherless generation? We have a choice to repeat history and allow this terrible breach, that is primarily generated out of a selfish quest for power and control, to continue on. Or we can choose to learn from history and break this curse by joining together and investing in these young ones, understanding and supporting them for God's glory. It is critical that we make the right choice!
One thing that is true about all pioneers is that they are "out there." This is also true of spiritual pioneers. And this is their function, to be "out there" -- blazing new trails where few others are. They're a different breed than most. Most of them look, think and act in unconventional ways, because they see things that many of us don't see. They are not satisfied with what is, and are willing to risk and bank all on the fact that the Lord is moving us into the next horizon. They are seldom religiously correct, they have not learned protocol, and many may be very irritating to other established and seasoned Christians. Their vision seems to have no limit, and they will make many mistakes along the way. They learn mostly as they go, because they have been called "to go." They are often labeled rebellious, prideful and unsubmitted, and some may very well be. But the Lord has His hand on these because they are chosen to be agents of change, yes even with their flaws. And if they continue to walk in humility and obedience, then the trails that they blaze will one day become the highways of holiness that multitudes will travel on. That is the way it works.
All of us who are truly following Jesus will have some element of this pioneering Spirit within us. Jesus said, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8) The Lord is raising up a people who will be risk takers again - people of faith who will not be afraid to risk it all. Things are getting ready to dramatically change. Much of the western church has grown too comfortable and too settled in right now. We have currently lost much of our fire and zeal. The cloud and the fire of the Lord has moved on, and we are still camping out, and the only fire we have left is our pitiful little man made religious campfire. And even these fires are about to be snuffed out by the Lord Himself, for he is jealous for a church that is consumed with His fire.
The apostle Paul was so filled with this burning commitment to seeing the lost saved and Jesus preached to all of mankind that he even said in Phil.1:18, "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."
Do we rejoice as Paul did when we see Christ preached, even when it comes from flawed vessels with motives that are not fully pure? If we don't, we are deceived because that is certainly the only way that Christ has been preached through us! None of us are perfected yet. We are all earthen vessels that are filled with a great and awesome treasure. We are to rejoice with Paul to see this wonderful treasure of the gospel being shared with the poor and the lost. And we are to pray for and prophesy the completion and purification of the vessel (our brother) being used.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
Oh to take these matters to the Lord in prayer when we see our brother's weakness or flaws! How things would change among the servants of the Lord. We would see brothers and sisters encouraged, protected, and changed into the holy, noble vessels that we are called to be. The Lord is calling for a people who will fearlessly support and connect with these ones who are called to go out from the camp to explore new possibilities and stake out the next land for us all.
There will be conflict, differences and misunderstandings between believers -- this is just part of being human. But how we deal with these differences when they come is a great test and will result in either a powerful testimony of God's redeeming love, or in another defeat. We must learn to speak the truth in love to one another if we are ever to grow up. This is one of the hardest things for us to do because it means risk and courage. We are encouraged to sharpen our brothers in love, not to hold them down or to shut them down. We must remember we cannot hold a man down without staying down with him, and likewise we cannot hold a brother back without holding ourselves back as well. We really are one body.
We don't really love someone that we haven't prayed for. Prayer, like nothing else, cultivates love and understanding in us toward our brothers, for it changes and softens our heart first. Mark this - to change us is always the Lord's first agenda in any situation. We must be willing to be changed by the Lord if we ever hope to be used to change anyone else.
WOE TO STUMBLING BLOCKS!
"He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:10,11) It's all about love … our Christian walk is all about walking in love and "following the way of love" as Paul exhorts us. Those of us who don't choose to love our brother choose to walk in the darkness and eventually become spiritually blind. This is why we have so many conditions in the church today that Jesus calls "the blind leading the blind." But those who relentlessly walk in love walk in God's pure light and there is nothing in them that Satan can use to trip them up. Loving others is the main way to stay on the straight and narrow path and this also ensures us that our feet won't slip. And I believe that if we continue in the Lord's love regardless of the situation, we will not become a stumbling block to someone else.
Paul writes, "We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited." (2 Corinthians 6:3) If we want to discredit our labor and ministry, according to Scripture we need only to block the way for someone else. If one of us suffers, we all suffer. We cannot cause our brother to suffer and not inflict damage and suffering upon ourselves as well. Becoming a stumbling block is a serious offense, and yet it happens all the time in the Church. And we seldom stop to think about what this sin is doing to the condition of the church.
We should be supporting and cheering one another on instead of hindering and causing each other to trip up as we each run the race that we have been given to run. Jesus declares in Matthew 18:7, "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!" Jesus tells us that it would be better for us to be thrown into the ocean with a great stone around our neck than to cause someone else to stumble. Lord forgive us!
LEARNING TO HELP AND NOT HINDER
So why does this happen so often? Why do we so often resist, neglect, hinder and even want to "stone" brothers who have been entrusted with this God-given pioneering task? Some of it is because of ignorance and misunderstanding, but much of it is because we are prejudicially stupid, selfishly busy, and therefore spiritually blind. We have not been walking in the light of love regarding these young ones and that is why so many are not found in church. We are fools to not help our brothers along the way. We are spiritual wimps to gossip and talk about the problems and weaknesses of others, and not first go to them. And it is certainly not enough to just avoid or one another either. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:17) To neglect someone God has brought across our path intending us to help is also a sin. We are commanded to carry one another's burden. This means we must learn to be selfless and to be willing to invest in others who are different from us.
May we all learn to love, encourage and support those who are different from us, and also to embrace and accept those who have different assignments from the Lord than we do. Paul exhorts us in Romans 15:7 to "Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Oh what high praises will ascend to the heavens when we learn to truly accept and bless one another as Christ so flawlessly has modeled for us.
May we not criticize our brothers when we see their weaknesses, or flaws, or even false motives in them, but rather cover them in holy prayer; and then if the Lord leads us, go to them and obey Him by prayerfully and carefully going and speaking the truth in love. The courageous and mature will do such things!
Lord, forgive us for attacking other people and ministries who are different from us. We have done this out of our own ignorance, pride and fear. Thank you, Oh Lord, for the beauty of the diversity of your Body. Praise God that we are all not the same. May each of us be faithful, Oh Lord, with the different orders you have given to us -- and may we be careful not to be a stumbling block to anyone else's assignment. Connect us, we pray, with the bond of peace, and bind us together by your great and unlimited love.