Wednesday, January 27, 2010

seeing between the lines

Remember those weird pictures (stereograms) that were popular a few decades ago? At first glance, they appeared to be brightly colored geometric designs. But if you looked at the patterns long enough, slowly a dinosaur, dophin or waterfall would materialize.

At first, I could never see the hidden pictures. I'd squint and strain with all my might, but squiggly lines were all I could see. But then a friend shared the secret to stereogram success--quit trying so hard! Relax and focus beyond the outer design--then the hidden image will become visible.

And sure enough, when I quit focusing so intently on the obvious, the hidden masterpiece finally came into view . . .

I'm finding this principle applies to my search for the Church. Since I've stepped back and focused on Jesus--and quit looking so intently at our cultural definition of church--I've been able to glimpse God's masterpiece: the Bride of Christ in all her glory!

These days, when I look at the Church, my spiritual eyes no longer focus on the building, the pastor, or the programs. As I gaze beyond those things, I see a multitude of people, seamlessly unified by their faith in Jesus.

This living stream flows in and out of the institution we often mistake for the church, exalting Jesus as the Head of His Body (instead of the pastor). These followers of the Lamb understand that worship is a continual act of surrender to the Lordship of Christ--not just the handful of songs offered up on Sunday morning. While they may appreciate the practical options a building can offer, they know that the kingdom of God extends beyond the four walls of what many call their church home.

Some have followed Jesus out of the buildings and into houses, schools, businesses and even bars. Wherever two or more of these believers are gathered, Christ is in their midst. And they understand with all of their beings that the Church is who they are--not somewhere they go.

Are you starting to get the picture? If not, just lift your eyes and gaze at Jesus. As you focus on Him, His beautiful Bride will come into view . . .