There is a church within the church.
The Song of Solomon talks about the Bride that was called out from Daughters of Jerusalem (Song of Solomon 6:1). David was called out from among his brothers (1 Samuel 16:11). Jehu was called out from among his companions (1 Kings 9:4-7). When David went to Ziklag to rescue the wives and children of his army that had been captured, he took only 200 of his men. The others stayed behind. When Gideon was called to fight, he was only allowed to choose 300 men of the 32,000 he started out with (Judges 7:1-7). Joseph was called out from the sons of Jacob.
The church within the church wins victories and gets spoils for all. They share their victories so others can be spiritually prosperous and better off. Not everyone is going to pay the price to fight and win and come back from the enemy’s camp with the spoils of war. Not everyone is going to pray the price to maintain intimacy with Jesus in order to hear what He is doing in the earth and lead out in that way. But relationship is built in shared experiences with Jesus on the battlefield and in the prayer closet and it’s that relationship that can’t be shared. I can share the benefits of my time with the Lord but I can never share the intimacy that I have pressed in for. I can give away what I have seen and heard, but I can never give away the knowledge I have of His presence that I took hold of for myself.
Look at Elisha, the pupil and servant of Elijah. On Elijah’s last day on earth, the school of the prophets knew that it was Elijah’s last day. (Weird but true!) They kept telling Elisha, “This is your master’s last day.” He said, “I know, I know!” Elijah also acted strangely. Instead of asking Elisha to stay close to him, he tried to send him away back to the group of the prophets. But Elisha wouldn’t go. Why? I believe that he knew that what Elijah carried needed to be passed on to someone and he wanted to be that man. He knew that for his ministry to be what he had experienced while walking with Elijah, he was going to need that anointing. So Elisha stayed away from the group and pressed in closer to Elijah. He got so close that when the chariots of God came to take Elijah from this earth, Elisha was right there to catch Elijah’s mantle. Now that must have been a cool moment. Many of us have watched someone die, but we’ve never seen angels take them away – in a chariot of fire, no less! So Elisha represents the zeal of the church within the church. When trials, inconvenience, and the cares of this world tell us that we need to back away from the intense presence of the Lord and rejoin the group – the status quo of religion – we say, “No! Jesus, I will not leave your side! I want all that you have for me.”
There will always be those who are satisfied with church as usual. People who are zealous will be called names and persecuted. That’s the way it’s always been. The moment someone dares to lift their eyes to heaven and believe that there’s more, they are called all sorts of names and told to sit down and shut up. But the true Children of the Burning Heart will not be silenced or pushed out of the presence of the Lord.
So what differentiates the church within the church? Passion. Anyone can feel passion at certain times, but only the church within the church will fan the flame. Only the church within the church will press in when it seems like everything is pushing them back. Only the church within the church will drive on past mistakes and failures knowing that they are keeping their eyes on their prize and it’s a prize that can never be taken from them. Like Mary, the sister of Lazarus, the church within the church has chosen the better thing – to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him speak rather than frantically execute religious duties, calling it holiness.
The church within the church cries, “Jesus, You are my reward! I’m done with looking for accolades, affirmation, and rewards in family, friends, ministry or vocation. I am coming to see that if I gain Jesus I have obtained my great reward. No houses, vacations, retirement or successes will satisfy. God give me the fire because either I’m going to die having pursued You unto death or You’re going to show up and I’m going to be delivered without even the smell of smoke! Send Your glory – let me display it as a vessel that has had the dross burned out!”
Do you have a passion to be that church within the church? Do you feel like there’s more to a relationship with Jesus than you are experiencing? Do you read the Bible and feel a holy dissatisfaction rise up inside you because you see that there is more of God’s power and goodness that isn’t being demonstrated? Do you love spending time in God’s presence?
If so, buckle your seat belt. In these last days, I believe that God is going to grab ahold of those who will worship and obey without question. It’s easy to talk about being obedient to God until he asks for something impossible and outrageous —-which are the things that God is most likely going to ask. The small, easy, comfortable things are just for starters. But you know you have begun the real journey when the thoughts that come to your mind sound insane. When the promptings in your heart to reach people and to bless people start imposing on your own personal comfort and reputation.
It’s not going to be easy to stand for the Lord in these dark days. It’s not going to get easier, either. Many will choose their own comfort and reputation over radical obedience to the Lord. God help us not to be those poor souls who will reach heaven only to realize that they gave up their chance to offer anything to Jesus for all He gave to them. When you see Jesus at the White Throne Judgment and he asks you what you did with your life, will your answer be that you pressed into Him for strength, direction and compassion or that you pushed those thoughts out of your mind so that you could continue building your kingdom? How important will all of our pursuits appear in the light of eternity?