We are the Bride of Christ and overcoming is the process by which we become revealed for who we really are. Another blog from my past is appropriate today for becoming who we are meant to be in Christ. As leaders, we must lead the community of God to be the community of God! We must embrace the process of Christ’s transformation in our own lives and then lead others to do the same.
The Bride of Christ is awake with Christ’s passion. She knows that God is the source of her life. She is awake with His presence. She knows that she is an expression of Him in the earth. The Body of Christ is awake with Christ’s purpose. She knows that God and her together bring a power to change the world behind her. She is the community of God in the earth and she is the place of invitation for the nations of the world to find the love of God in the earth.
The Bride of Christ exhibits the glory of a city, a community of heaven made manifest in the communities of the world. Her gates are made of pearl, for in Christ she is empowered to take the irritations and afflictions of the flesh and turn them into precious testimonies of God’s love. She doesn’t allow the wounds of the flesh to become sources of bitterness, but chooses to allow God to work all things for good in her life. What would naturally be testimonies of bitterness have become testimonies of God’s love. Like the pearl, they are testimonies of great value (Rev. 21:12,13, Rev. 21:21).
A few years ago, I was in an Awake and Arise conference and the Holy Spirit spoke to me about several places in my life that could have been testimonies of bitterness. It was a time where the atmosphere had been created for the Holy Spirit to speak in regard to any judgments those in the room may have made in regard to the lives of others. As I sat there, the Holy Spirit showed me the face of a woman. As I looked at the face of the woman I saw her face changed to that of another woman, and then another, and another. I realized that she was Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, Pentecostal, Non-Denomination – she was the church. The Holy Spirit said, “This is your mom, you need to thank her. She gave you material to work with. She did the best she could do with what she had.” In a moment I felt tremendous love for her. I could thank her for who she was. I don’t have much love for religion, but in that moment I could see past her religious ways into her heart. It was a revelation of her as a person free from the religiosity of her actions. The scene changed and I began to see the face of a man. It was the face of a church leader who in the past had hurt me bad. Then the image changed to another man and it was also the face of another church leader who had hurt me. The picture continued to change to several faces of church leaders who had hurt me in the past. The Holy Spirit said, “This is your dad, you need to thank him. He put a baton in your hand to run with. He did the best he could with what he knew to do.” I felt overwhelming love for him. I was able to thank this corporate expression of church fathers that had hurt me, because I was able to look past the actions of their wounding me to the substance of who they were. I realized that what was now in my hand had a direct connection to what had been in their hand. The picture then changed to a man who had put all kinds of conditions on my relationship with him. The Holy Spirit said, “You need to thank him. He gave you unconditional love, because he put all kinds of conditions upon your love for him.” I realized that what this man had done to me gave God the ability to grant me the grace to love him as he was. The picture changed to another man who had refused to forgive me. The Holy Spirit said, “You need to thank him. He gave you forgiveness, because he refused to forgive you”. Again, I felt love for the man and I realized that what he couldn’t do had opened a door for God to grant me grace to do on his behalf. There were twenty-six faces of men and women that God showed me that day. One was a person that empowered me to be a father, because they told me I wasn’t one. One gave me freedom from control, because they sought to control me. One freed me from rejection, because they rejected me. The experience was life changing and real. I have since made reconnections with many on the list in some way and I have been made free in my heart concerning them all. I love the church! I love the leadership of the church in its many forms! I love the members of the Body of Christ in a new way. What could have been irritations of the flesh and bitter wounds that keep people out of my life have become a part of the working of God’s love in forming the pearls of my heart. The gates of the community of God are made of pearl. They are the same material as Jesus Christ, the Pearl who refused to judge us by what we did to Him, but gave His life unconditionally for us all! Gates are a way into the community and it is the testimony of God’s love that creates the gates of entrance to God’s community of life. It is not everything working well that invites people to the community of God; it is everything working out for good. When what was intended for evil works out for good we see the testimony of the pearl. The irritations of the flesh can become the very things that reveal the tenderness and the greatness of God’s love at work in our lives.
Romans 8:18, 19 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…
John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A pearl forms in an oyster when a piece of shell, flesh, or some other irritant gets lodged inside the soft part of the oyster. The oyster then secretes a mineral substance and a protein substance to prevent the lodged material from doing further damage, transforming it into a smooth crystallite substance that reflects a rainbow of light. The lodged substance is never removed; it simply becomes a testimony of beauty hidden within the oyster. If we will give God access to the wounded areas of our hearts we can find the grace of His love. Whether our wounds are from people or our wounds are from circumstances, God can take the irritations of the flesh and turn them into testimonies of great value. He can turn them into pearls that others can see. What could be so ugly can become so beautiful if we allow His grace to work in our heart. God doesn’t want us to escape the wounds of our past. He wants us to realize that the wounds of our lives are part of us, but they don’t define us. Who we are in Christ defines the testimony of the wounds we receive in life. What could be a marring of the flesh becomes a pearl of great price revealing God’s love.
Ted J. Hanson