In a recent night of prayer lifting up our nation with fellow intercessors, God gave us convicting revelation. It is the kind of revelation that makes your reflect and search your own heart. Frankly, it is the kind of revelation that hits you in the gut. And although he did not tell us specifically to share it, I believe strongly that it was meant to be shared because cannot stay silent when the church has strayed away. This revelation was a rebuke of the American Christian church. Obviously, there are elements within the church that are godly and working hard for His kingdom, but God made clear to us that there are many dark elements within the church, the entire body of Christ here in the United States, that are hurting instead of helping God’s people.
While we were praying one of the sisters saw a vision. In that vision, there was a congregation surrounding a body of water. The water was crystal clear so the people rushed to dip their feet in the water. As their feet were immersed in it, they muddied the water. That was the end of the vision. As we silently meditated on it, several of the intercessors knew the meaning. Even though it was a simple vision, the message was obvious. The church was not purifying its people through the gospel. Instead with false doctrine, greed, sin, it was polluting them. As we continued to pray, we were taken to Ezekiel 34. Our initial thoughts were confirmed by this section of scripture and the correlation between the imagery in the vision and the imagery in scripture was stunning.
Ezekiel 34:18-19 says, “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?”
This prayer group was formed for the intent of praying for our nation and its leaders. But it has become clear with each passing week that the root cause of our problems as a country are rooted in the church. The current state of our nation is not due to the ignorance of people; it is not due to sin running rampant among unbelievers; it is not due to corrupt politicians; it is is due to failed elements within the church. We want to blame our woes on liberal policies or on the actions of the “wicked,” when in fact we should be looking within. We should be concerning ourselves with first cleaning up the spiritual atmosphere in our churches drawing parallels with the rebuke God gave Israel as outlined in Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 34 was directed towards the shepherds of Israel. It says in verse 4, “The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.” But it also addresses the “fat sheep.” The fat sheep were not the leaders, but people in Israel that obviously had wealth and power. Verses 20 and 21 say, “Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad.”
We know from the New Testament that the purpose of the church was not to enrich itself. It was not meant to be social gathering. It was not meant to enrich its pastors nor serve people’s egos. It was meant to be a light to the nations. It was to represent the love that is Jesus Christ through his followers. It was to proclaim the word boldly, bringing people to repentance, while loving people. It was suppose to be taking care of the poor, the widows, the orphans, the destitute. It was suppose to be delivering people out of bondage. It was suppose to walk with power in the holy spirit. It was suppose to disciple its weakest members and nurture the newest believers. It was suppose to be reaching out to the worst of the sinners and be a place of refuge for the brokenhearted. And yet, I think it is clear that is not so. Instead we have allowed governments to take over our responsibilities and many of our churches have become nothing more than a place where people can feel good about themselves one day a week.
We want to challenge church leaders and Christ followers to examine their own churches and examine their hearts. To the pastors and elders we ask, are you consumed with the tithes that are coming or not coming in? Are you living a lifestyle that is more glamorous than your congregation? Are you more concerned with schedules and an orderly service than you are with making your church a welcoming place for people regardless of economic means or cultural backgrounds? Are you refusing to break bread with sinners? Are you making the gospel solely an intellectual exercise without allowing the holy spirit to flow? Are you making sure the poorest of your congregation are taken care of? Are you taking care of the poor, and the widows, and the fatherless in your communities?
To the sheep we ask, are you more concerned with your own professional achievements than helping a fellow Christian? Are you so overwhelmed with programs or projects that you don’t have time to talk to someone in need? Are you starting your day without taking the time to pray? For that matter, are you praying continually throughout your day? Is your life surrounded by activities that don’t exactly further God’s kingdom? Are you making decisions based solely on economic viability without considering the spiritual implications? Are you part of a church clique and rarely socialize outside of your group of friends? Are you seeking out those within the church that are feeling marginalized or lost? Are you sharing your home and your wealth? Are you sharing your talents with the church?
It is time to purify our hearts and to repent for our failures as a church. It is time for the church to rise up, but that cannot happen unless we root out evil from within the church. God’s people need a body of Christ that reflects their king, Jesus Christ. This nation desperately needs it. We are at a turning point in this country and God will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. If we are to endure through the trials ahead, then we must be grounded in faith and in love and in the truth of the gospel. God must be your place of refuge and habitation, because things like wealth, professions, and even our own intellect will prove to be nothing more than dust in the wind.