In my e-newsletter of the 16th I shared a recent visitation with the Lord in which He talked about His people chasing 'spiritual butterflies'. (If you did not receive the e-newsletter please go to cwowi.org and click 'articles', and in the drop down menu click 'newsletter')
The Lord came to me and said this: "Many are wondering about the coming year, but I am working in hearts to the degree that many have determined they will no longer chase spiritual butterflies, but will center in on the core of who they are in Me and what they believe, and seek out those who have the same spiritual priorities.”
Then we were standing next to a field with children chasing butterflies. But some stopped chasing butterflies and sat down on the edge of the field, facing out, and gave water and food to those outside the field. Again, follow the above instructions if you haven't read it yet.
What did He mean by 'spiritual butterflies?'
When the Lord returns He tells us in Matthew 25:34-40 of those righteous in His eyes:
"The King will say to those on His right 'Come, you who have gained my Father's blessing! Take your inheritance - the kingdom reserved for you since the foundation of the world! For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was lonely and you made me welcome. I was naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you came and looked after me. I was in prison and you came to see me there.
Then the true men (righteous) will answer Him saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry/fed...thirsty/gave drink...lonely/visited...sick or in prison/visited?' And the Kind will reply; I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me." (JB Phillips Translation)
Those words will happen exactly as He stated. If we believe that, and if we believe we are in the end times, shouldn't we be able to read the above passage with assurance and say, "Yes Lord, that is my life, that is what I do, those are my priorities too!"
What if He came right now to those who think the height of spiritual experience is getting 'slain in the spirit' or 'drunk in the spirit' or feeling 'spiritual goose bumps'? What if He came right now to those who think having some minister lay hands on them for a fresh anointing is the highest and best God has? What if a person was so focused on personal prophecy - or deliverance - or going to the 3rd heaven - they think these types of things are the highest and best God has and is doing right now?
If Jesus came back right now could each one of us say what is most important to Him is also most important to us? Is his idea of the work of the ministry also our idea of the work of the ministry?
At the start
The apostles heard Jesus tell them directly what He is looking for at His return, and they imparted that priority and lifestyle to others, for in Acts 2 through 6 the people are going so far as to sell excess resources to help care for the physical needs in their midst.
"And the multitude of believers were of one heart and soul. No one said anything they had was their own...neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses (people who owned multiple homes and lands) sold them and brought the prices of those things sold and laid them at the apostles' feet for distribution." (4:32-34)
That doesn't mean they lived in a big commune, no, they retained their own homes to live in, but their hearts were devoted to helping others in their midst, and if there were needs people were willing to take from their savings and investments even, to help meet the needs around them. (They didn't have banks in those days, so all cash investment was tied up in homes, lands, livestock and such)
All these resources were going to provide water, food, clothing, shelter and more to those in need, consistent with Jesus' priorities. Over the next 30 years that Acts and most of the New Testament cover we see the work of the ministry continue to be defined this way, with the body of Christ having Jesus' same priorities. In Antioch when Agabus prophesies about a coming famine in Judea, the body (who met in homes) gathers an offering to send to Judea for famine relief. (Acts 11:28-30)
Paul receives offerings for the poor in Jerusalem in I Corinthians 16, II Corinthians 8&9, Romans 15:25-26.
James says this: "True (pure) religion and undefiled before God the Father is this; To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep yourself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)
How do you spell religion?
So we consistency through all the leaders and people, and through all the New Testament that the body of Christ' priorities were consistent with Jesus' priorities at His return. Shouldn't our priorities be the same?
Do we define pure religion that same way? To keep ourselves unspotted from the world? To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction?
Or do we now, or have some of us in the past, defined pure religion as learning to give personal prophecy, or going out on the street to talk to strangers and see the Lord give us words, or to yell and scream at God to open heaven to us, or to be drunk in the spirit and wobble around like a child's spinning top?
Why do people get distracted with spiritual butterflies?
From the start Christians have met in homes as their primary gathering place to be the church. Being in a living room every week with roughly the same people means you get to know one another and the needs in the midst, and everyone takes personal responsibility out of a heart of love to care for everyone. Things naturally flow therefore to how a person can be helped; money, skills, time, wisdom and other resources are used to help meet the needs.
In the auditorium church it is all about the program that does the work of the ministry, it is not based on individual responsibility. There is a Friday night outreach to the apartment complex, a food and clothing drive in which all that is required is to bring a can of soup and a coat you don't want any more to put in a large box as you walk into the auditorium. There are prison ministries that you can give money to, a bus program to bring underprivileged children to church, and more, all funded by your tithes and offerings.
But you don't have to do anything. That gives Christians in the auditorium church the luxury of chasing spiritual butterflies for themselves. They have no other responsibility to anyone once they give their tithe, offering, can of soup or spare coat. Relieved of responsibility, they can chase butterflies!
"Have you been to _____? I got so drunk in the spirit, I have a whole new level of anointing in my life now! We prayed down heaven I tell you, we yelled and screamed for God to open heaven and some said they were caught up to the 3rd heaven, wow, one lady was rolling and screaming the Lord was on her so mightily! I even heard a demon talk to someone before it was cast out, wow what a powerful time of ministry we had."
No matter how much I look at Jesus' words in Matthew 25 I can't imagine Him saying something like:
"Come and inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for you. For I was the needy family next to you in church, but you didn't want to associate with people dressed as they were. I was the single mom who needed a little cash for some clothes for her children, but you felt giving your old worn out coat into the box in the foyer was the extent of your duty - good for you!"
"I was your neighbor struggling in their marriage and rather than reach out to them you ignored them on your way to church. Great! Come inherit your kingdom! For you ignored those around you though by your own words I gave you increased anointing (what did you think that was for, yourself?). Enter into your kingdom with those goose bumps! Come and prophesy all you who think you are prophets because you are a little experienced in personal prophets!"
Hmmmm....spiritual butterflies, or having Jesus' priorities? And what does that look like if we want to change - until next week! Blessings,