I had a glorious worship this morning though I was not in Meeting. The Lord blessed me with openings I didn't anticipate, but who can anticipate openings? And my blog is the only place it seems where I can share the bread the Lord feeds me. But who reads my blog?
I'm haunted by the urgency to harvest the vineyard: "When people come to witness the spirit of God and [to] feel that in themselves they turn out of the market and go to work in the vineyard." (The Lord Alone Was The Teacher, p. 63, That Thy Candles May Always Be Burning). No longer am I in the market but witnessing. Still, on the 14th day, 8th month, year two thousand eleven, my blog post stated this observation: "It is sad they (Quakers) have become so far removed from George Fox's preachings they don't recognize themselves in his admonishments. Yet they maintain the self-righteous attitude that they are "doing God's work" by supporting and financing worldly whims, such as environmentalism. Yet the Quakers can't bear to hear the words Jesus Christ and God spoken in their meetings."
I've been burdened with this urgency since I first believed in the year nineteen eighty six or seven (I didn't record it) though I thought of it then not as burden but bringing people to the joy of Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter what you call it, people who claim to be Friends (of Truth, the original name of "Quakers") don't want truth. They want, as I heard it stated yesterday by Ravi Zacherias, "spirituality without God." They love their divine; they love their freedom from God; they love their concerns, which are more politically than spiritually conceived; they love their values of love, acceptance, caring, tolerance, community, peace--except when they don't. Don't say God is he; don't say Jesus is the way, the truth, the life; don't say there's no evidence for the theory of evolution; don't witness truth, don't, don't, don't upset their rickety reality cart.
What did the Lord open to me this morning? I quote from Autobiography of George Fox, Chapter 6: A New Era Begins (1652) "As we travelled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered."
I must have read this passage before in The Journal of George Fox, but, as with the Bible, a deeper meaning was opened to me today, probably because I've been wrestling with dark spiritual forces holding captive Friends meetings. I copied the last sentence of the above quote in my notebook and then wrote as the Spirit led me the following:
And gather them he did. And those people gathered are among the chosen people. They're not waiting for us to join them to complete the gathering or rather the Church. They are the Church, Christ's Church. The Church is open to all and all are welcome who will be gathered. But the gathering must be done in every time in which people live. Do we contempory Friends make that steep and high journey up Pendle Hill?
Returning to my earlier post I access freely the quotes from Paul. "Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him." Eph 1:5. This verse I believe informed Fox and early Friends regarding the Quaker doctrine of perfection. He goes on to say in verses 22-23, "God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. The church is Christ's body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere."
That's a remarkable statement, though I'm not sure I can make sense of the vague thoughts that struck me as I read the verse this time. We were talking about Christ's Church and union and those gathered by those who have come into truth. It's our commission to gather the vineyard for the completion of him, who himself completes all things everywhere. Only in union with Jesus can we complete his church and we can be in union with him only when we become humble, or, as Isaac Penington said, "And so, sink very low, and become very little, and know little; yea, know no power to believe, act, or suffer anything for God, but as it is given thee, by the springing grace, virtue, and life of the Lord Jesus." (Quaker Spirituality, p. 148-9). So we are only complete in him as our union with him completes his Church, his body. Is that love and total dependence?
Because there's one other thing the Lord opened to me. Though I can't find the passage that quickened my spirit, I remember it had to do with Jesus and his bride, his Church, and the wedding. For a long time I could only envision a material entity, so my thinkinbg was similar to placing a wrong piece in a puzzle. It just didn't fit right. But the Lord let me see his bride was the chosen people gathered. All put together they make a beautiful wedding dress and bride. How glorious.