|This linked from Blazing Trails Too page|
From Europe (Netherlands):
Introduction to excerpts taken from "The Royal Way" by Frans Horsthuis:
Frans Horsthuis is a priest of the archdiocese of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Ordained in 1947, he spent the first years of his ministry as a fairly traditional priest. But he slowly became aware of the insistent call of the Lord for him to become one hundred percent His priest.
With his bishop's permission, Frans gave up his parish in order to follow Jesus more faithfully, very much in the spirit of his namesake, Francis of Assisi.
His special calling for over thirty years has been to pray for the Church in Europe and to teach Christians of all denominations in Europe how they might themselves become a priestly people working for a rejuvenated and united Church in Europe.
This book, which the author insists is not his book, but the Lord's, is an account of his ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. It speaks to us all, and shows us how each one of us can develop a friendship with Jesus, and can, as a priestly people, make this beautiful vision of the Church a reality, a Church which has been rejuvenated yet is mature, a Church which is free from petty rules, but faithful to its roots.
Frans takes no money from anybody. People have given donations to make the publication of his books possible. One can order this book at the following address:
"The Royal Way"
Darlington DL3 9PN
There are no costs involved. A free donation (not to Frans) will be appreciated. The money will be used to keep the book in circulation. Merely specify that your donation is to be used for the publication of this book.
I was introduced to this book by Froukje of Airlift Ministries in Holland, who says she has fellowshipped the author on a number of occasions. I got a copy of the book myself. The following quotes convey prophetic words of wisdom that, although written primarily for the European area, will encourage us too in America when it comes to God's intentions for His Church and His new small groups or "house communities" of "priestly people."
QUOTATIONS BEGIN BELOW:
p.101 The first task of the Church in Europe is unity. This means that we, Christians of all churches, should recognize with great respect and love for each other, our richness in our differences; we should value our differences and thank and glorify God on their account.
p.113. During these journeys the Lord warned me on more than one occasion: "Be careful not to make comparisons between the different countries and churches." How right that is, for it is precisely through comparisons that tensions and splits arise.
p.157 In the creation narrative we read that first there was chaos. From that God created something new. That's the way it is now: first there is chaos in the Church and then God makes a new beginning. For this He makes use of everything, of Hitler, of Stalin, of the devil himself, as a whip to drive us faster towards our goal.
p.158 The time when structures were important for the Church is over. They are not useful anymore. The only thing that matters is spiritual power.. In these countries as well, the Church has been supported by society. The communist regime has simply taken over the system and made use of it, in order to get rid of the churches from the inside. In fact, the regime has given God a helping hand to clear away the old and worn out ways, so that the Church might be purified. Another priest said: "God's enemies serve Him as well. They render a service to the Church by forcing it to return to its true mission."
p.159 on one occasion Jesus said: "The Church of Europe is coming up against a difficult time. First it must get rid of a lot of baggage, its possessions and its power, it must get off its pedestal. What there is now will fall away like dust. Pray that something new may rise up from this dust. But before anything like that can happen, the old must disintegrate." It is not the rules or the structures that have to be dismantled, it is the people who must be made independent of them."
p.167. It is not the church which contains the most "truth" which is the most valuable, but the one that spreads the most love."
p.168. Once, when I was praying for the churches in the Netherlands, He said to me: "The forces must unite! The leaders' task, the pastor's task for the future is, in short, to bring people together and not just look after their own group. Boundaries can be crossed! That is My command. Let it begin here in the Netherlands, even though it will meet with a lot of resistance. But fear not." And He said: "It is not the churches but the Christians who must unite."
The Lord gave Ari Ben Israel, about whom I have already spoken, a message for Germany and for the Netherlands: "Apostles and prophets must come there. Penance must be done for the sins of the forefathers. The Christians must become one people, speak one language, the language of reconciliation, of unity, of love. They must have one goal: only Jesus Christ. They must become one just as we, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are one." The Lord said to me: "The Catholics, Protestants and eastern Orthodox churches must form a bond of love." - "It must be a Church where parties have no place. For this purpose a priestly people must be formed, who do not have their own interests at heart. With respect to the outer form, He said: "I was born in a stable with the task of building a temple. If my Church believes in an everlasting temple, here on earth, they must build in a more temporary, less permanent way. There are many possible church structures, all of which can be good and useful, but people must not try to make any one of them into an absolute. People must keep hold of the content, and give it a new form, which is suitable for the people of this age."
p.180. Jesus said once: "Only if the priests collect together around Me, can they go forth in power. If it is not I, the Lord who build the house, the labourers are working in vain. Their work is like straw, which will be burnt. They must be prepared to pay the price. This requires a radical change over; they must consider the things of above, not the things of this earth. I desire their whole heart and am not satisfied when they espouse only human values.
Sometimes the Lord addressed a complaint against priests: "They must not try to please the people. I am not interested in what they have found out about Me through diligent study, I want to meet them personally. because it is only what they have experienced personally in their association with Me which will convince, not any academic knowledge about Me. Only if their hearts are full of Me, can they, or rather can I-in-them, approach people. Purely human love for others is not enough.
p.182....the Lord broke in: "Take a piece of paper. I have something to say to you." I sat down and Jesus dictated to me. I was like "the pen of a fast scribe" and I was just able to keep up with the Lord.
To My priests:
I want to repair the relationship. I have good things in store for them. I will give them new fruitfulness. Just let them come to Me. My plans are ready, everything is ready. I want to make it plain to them and to give them some insight; them in the first place. Let them take their places. Great things are in store. Take a lot of time to listen to Me. I am the Head of the Church. I and I alone. I know what everyone needs. There is no need for anxiety or disappointment. Fear not! I have the future in My hands. (In between He said to me: 'You must put this down literally.')
Bury the feuds and grudges that separate you. Join together in love. I am in your midst, in the midst of My priests. You are an honor to Me if you do what I say. Amen, yes, Amen.
p.183. Much earlier He had said to me on a couple of occasions: "Do not pray for what is here now, but for the new things that will come, which are still very weak." And He had said: "I am beginning something completely new, starting at ground level, on a much deeper basis than is usually considered by people who are involved in renewal of the Church." He said more: "Priests new-style." On other occasions too, He had started to talk about 'priests-new-style' or about 'a new generation of priests and priestly people.'
p.185. The Lord spoke to me about priestly people who were not ordained: "You must go to these people and tell them that I have a very special task for them."
In this way something totally new was brought forth. He set me on a new track with an eye to the Church of Europe: priestly people.
p.190. This is all related to the deep level at which a new generation of priestly people must make a start: a new bursting through of the Holy Spirit, with Jesus-only as the center point, with Him taking into His hands, the leadership. Compromises and the avoidance of difficulties, which in themselves might attract large numbers, should not be entertained. Simply a nucleus of independent, courageous Christians, who wish to be led personally by Jesus and His Spirit to forge a new way for the future.
Besides talking about how the first steps should be radical and begin in the depths, the Lord also spoke on a number of occasions about how the nucleus should be small. Even that is not at all the way we would expect things to be.
I once read in Psalm 105: "When they were insignificant in numbers, a handful of strangers, He protected them: "Do not touch My anointed ones, do no harm to My prophets." Then the Lord interrupted me: "A solid nucleus. That's why I am not so keen to begin with mass appeals." he also said at this time: "One by one. Do not make the mistake of opting for huge meetings."
Then the Lord, who certainly knows something about fishing, said: "Look, that's My way too: one by one. Wait and have patience and then the reward will come. It's the same with people: one by one." Later Jesus said to me: "Pray for the small flock, which no matter how much it costs, follows Me and inspires the others. Those are the kind of people I am looking for.
p.194/195. God does not go in for mass production, but for a unique kind of mini-creation. So it is that He gives unique opportunities to every Christian who will let himself or herself be formed and developed by the Lord, as well as giving them their own special responsibility. For you have to be ready and able to stand on your own, without getting submerged in the anonymity of the masses, or remaining within the cozy haven of an established parish or group. If the pillars in a building start leaning towards each other, the building comes crashing down. Each pillar must stand on its own foundation- and that foundation is Christ- and together they are able to support the whole building.
I once met two young men in Poland. They were leading a group. They told me that they had taken part as members of groups on previous occasions. But during a retreat, the priest giving the retreat had proposed that they and a number of others should take on the leadership of groups themselves. "We had no idea what to do," they said, "because we did not have any guidelines. Of necessity we had to get down on our knees then, and we began with empty hands. Since that time we have grown spiritually a good deal."
"How about the others who were also asked to take on this task" I asked. "They have given up", was their answer,. Isn't that just the challenge that we need? A clear chance for people to say yes or no rather than endlessly working things out with them, hoping not to lose them, when all the time there is no growth or commitment.
p.211. How much unity in the Lord already exists between Christians of different churches - and alas, how many differences there are between Christians belonging to the same church. God is regrouping Christians, drawing up completely new boundaries, which cut through the traditional church boundaries.
Firstly let it be clear that anyone who wants to work in the service of Jesus, should not rush up and down in the Lord's field wherever he thinks fit, without first sitting at Jesus' feet, where he should be prepared to drop his own plans and be ready to follow what Jesus wants.
p.213. When Jesus has the chance to take the lead, He will create no end of different priestly tasks. You do not have to be afraid that He will force you and make you do things that you are not able to. But He will get more out of your life than you had ever imagined possible.
p.237. On one occasion when indeed I was actually staying at a monastery, I received the following words from the Lord: "Where ordained priests do their work well, people should not reject them. But where this is not the case, other priestly people should have the courage to take up this service. My people are in need. I cannot wait any longer. It is written 'Let them walk in confidence into the inner sanctuary' (Heb. 9 and 10) which was reserved for the priests, indeed for the high priest. That cannot be allowed. But I say that it can be. Who is the Lord? I will not leave my people in slavery any longer. Encourage them to take up their places as priests"(2 Chron. 35).
p.242.It is in this way that a priestly people can come into being, not as a priestly class, a set of ordained leaders, but as people each one uniquely created by God. Priestly people, who as it were, fall from heaven one after the other, like Melchizedech, like Jesus, people who can accompany others on their way from one stage to the next. That is what priestly work is. For the riches that we receive are received in order for us to pass them on, not simply to continually enrich ourselves. In your spiritual infancy you grow by accepting and consuming what you are given. But in your spiritual maturity you grow by passing things on to others. If you are there just to consume, eating spiritual cookies as it were, your growth stagnates and you will not get anywhere no matter how hard you run towards the church. But a tap that provides water is also the very first to be refreshed by that water.
p.243. Pass it on: that is the secret of spiritual growth. "Everyone is a chosen instrument" for this, each in his own way.
p.249 "Go forth from Babel, My people..."
Babel: this refers to the contemporary tendency to build a worldly kingdom with the help of a threefold power, firstly the power of a legally constituted organization, then the power of money, possessions and riches, and finally the power of scientific knowledge. To what extent this is good or bad, God must decide. But in any case it belongs to this world and will disappear with the passing of this world. Then there is the "whore" of Babylon: the false bride, who attempts to take the place of the true bride of Christ. This is the same mentality of Babel, the Roman sense of power in the world, but now it has become part and parcel of Christianity. It is the way that the Church often thinks now, that the kingdom of God can come into being by worldly means, that it can be built by organizing, by creating permanent structures, by using propaganda, by seeing money an essential precondition, and by attempting to make the foolishness of the gospel sound sensible by dint of learned arguments and conferences. The Kingdom of Heaven will be appropriated so as to become a kingdom of this earth, thus attaining the world-encompassing aim of Babel.
The whore of Babylon is not simply the Church, or this or that church, but the power of the world within the Church, insofar as it has been successful in subtly infiltrating Jesus' Church. It holds Christians prisoner in its slavery, like the Hebrews in Egypt and the Jews in the seventy-year-exile.
This spirit of the world cannot be converted, will not be made Christian, as many unsuspecting Christians believe, including many of their leaders. Nor can you banish it now that it is inside. But God gives us His message: "Go forth! Save yourself!"
p.251 In our own time these words are urgent: "Go forth from Babel, My people..." It is certainly the case that in our days there is an ongoing exodus, a chaotic flight from all the churches. Is that what is intended here? Or do not all these disillusioned people need to be taken care of? For that priestly people are needed.
p.262 "We are going to celebrate the Feast of Shelters (Tabernacles), starting right now." was what Jesus said. And: "we are going to live in tents." The time of ecclesiastical power blocks is over. In place of established churches which are settled and well structured, a time of tents will come: there will be lots of nuclei, groups, house communities, just as in the time of the apostles: more colorful, more varied, more mobile than the present arrangement. And not so chained to links with the establishment or administrative committees of the church.
p.262. Jesus said to me there in Jerusalem: "My seat of government is in the heavens!" What was being proposed was direct leadership from the Lord, which is much more reliable than any centralized human bureaucracy. The times are going to change. We have to realize this, even though we need not completely reject the present. But the wise Christian will prepare himself for the future in good time, and will help others to prepare themselves. For this reason priestly people are needed. Not organizers, but convinced Christians, who have already built up a personal relationship with Jesus, and can pass it on to other people. it is up to the Lord to determine when and how all this will happen. For our part we have to be ready, so that we are not taken by surprise.
p.265 The Lord does not think in terms of "churches", but rather in terms of "personal dedication to Him". In this connection, he said the following to me one day: "The time is coming, or is already here, where ever more Christians are to be found outside the churches rather than inside them. What is their function there? The salt of the earth will really have to start working." "But how are they to be reached, Lord?" I asked. "They must be tracked down by priestly people who are already at hand. Then they must be turned into the salt of the earth." This expression that Jesus used, "salt of the earth", occupied my mind. I prayed: "Lord, it is high time that the salt be taken out of all those ecclesiastical salt-cellars, where it is turning solid, out of the Catholic and the Protestant salt-cellars, out of the Baptist and Pentecostal salt-cellars and then the salt will be placed in the food..." Then the Lord interrupted me: "...and how do you get the salt out of the salt-cellars?" A surprising and rather odd question. I said: "You turn them upside down and you shake them." "Exactly", said Jesus, "and that is just what is happening today, isn't it? And...are you willing to pray for it to happen, and to urge others to pray in this way?"
p.266. Jesus had never said that we should keep the salt in all these different containers - and indeed there are all kinds of salt containers around, and many of them do not work very well- but He did say that the salt should flavor the food. However because we are frightened of losing our own beloved salt containers when we flavor the food, we have chosen rather to put the food in the salt-cellars! We have brought the world into the churches. It is not just that we have made use of certain worldly methods, but there is our whole spirit, our way of thinking. And what is the result? The salt has become tasteless, it has the same flavor as the world around it.
The church in our western world is no longer persecuted the way the Lord said that His church would be, but people simply walk over it, carelessly. And people grin in a friendly manner at each other as they do it.
I have already told how the Lord had said to me that the time was past when the Church had a significant and powerful position in the west. In this connection the Lord drew my attention to Ezekiel 20:32: "And what you sometimes imagine, when you say: 'we will be like other people', will in fact never happen." This trying to be like other people is exactly where we have gone wrong, made our mistake. It has made us inflated as churches, and at the same time made us powerless. This is why the churches in this form are no longer of any use to the Lord. This worldly mentality, which has taken the churches of Western Europe under its spell, leads to a dead end.
p.269. I had been spending a couple of days in silence. It was then that the Lord spoke to me. It was a message that He had for the ecclesiastical leaders in the Netherlands. Ten years before He had once spoken to me about the heavy responsibility that he had laid upon church leaders. He had not called them in order that they should run an organization smoothly, but to go out to the people of God, to teach them to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, so that others could be brought to the Lord.
Some years afterwards He had said: "Church leaders should be more modest. I am the leader and no one else. Tell them that I will take responsibility for leading the Church. Do they trust Me and the Spirit? Church leaders have a subordinate task. I have allowed a lot to go on, but I am going to take charge of My sheep now. The leaders must not make things difficult for Me, or actually hinder what I am going to do." I asked: "Are they hindering You then?"
"Fear," answered the Lord, "they are very fearful of letting go of things. Where is their trust in Me, the Good Shepherd? Do they think they can do it better than Me? I will point out the way and open the doors. The church leaders must accept that. There is not much time. They should not waste the time they have with unimportant things. They should ask Me what the important things are." Some time later He spoke to me again: "Tell the church leaders that they must purify the church. Otherwise I will have to do it."
After my journey, this message came for the church leaders:
I want to look after My sheep Myself. I am going to lead them out into liberty, from the slavery of this world that has pervaded My Church. Let My people go free. The world is moving towards its end. I want to save My people from going down. Cut the fetters with the world, so that the church does not go down with the world. Cut loose the church's association with money, as I said in the gospel.
Do not guide My people according to the customs and laws of this world. Teach them to understand My ways. I am the Good Shepherd. I call each one of them by name. My sheep follow Me because they recognize My voice. Why is it that so many are leaving the churches? Because they do not want to follow a stranger, because they do not recognize his voice. There are many hirelings , paid with money. That is why the sheep are going away. Become poor as I am poor, and they will come back again and follow you. And stop violating my message with your human understanding of it. Bow down son your knees, pray to Me and listen in the silence of your heart to what the Spirit has to say to the churches. Don't use your time up on unimportant things. Your plans are not working out. Do you not see that? Where does the crisis in the churches come from? Why do you put your faith in earthly knowledge rather than in Me? You who should be leading My flock, have you yourselves become prisoners of a system? If so, let Me liberate you. I do not ask for slavish imitation, but friendship. That is the only way in which I am prepared to lead. Don't worry so much about whether things are going to get out of hand. I am the Lord of the Church. Free yourselves from your worries and put your trust in Me. Take the same starting point as Myself: "Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who sorrow, blessed are those who hunger and thirst, blessed are those who are alone and slandered because of Me." That is the challenge of My good news. It is quite different from the message of the world, which is being delivered in My Church by many. Whoever comes to Me in his need will receive in abundance from Me. For I am the true Bread, I am true wealth, peace and living water. Is My power reduced by your lack of faith, by your worldly spirit, by the idols of this world which you follow? What have I done wrong, that I should be treated in this way? Why do people take My sheep from Me? For they are Mine, aren't they? I gave My life, My blood for them, didn't I? What are those people doing to whom I entrusted My sheep...?
Let My people go forth in freedom.
p.271. A few months after I had received this message, I was in Hungary. I was staying somewhere in the South and there was a meeting taking place there, of about fifteen pastors from seven different churches. On the day before it took place, which I was spending in silence and prayer, the Lord gave me a message for them:
Be at one with each other. Visit each other's services. Be happy about the things that I am doing with the others. Do not be so afraid of each other, because I love the Christians in the other churches just as much as I love those in your church. They have all received precious gifts from Me. Do not boast of your own riches. But allow yourself to be enriched by the Christians from other churches. Each church is imperfect on its own. Love alone makes perfect. The form does not really matter. Even theological formulations are ultimately matters of form. look at the desperate situation in the world and join your hands together so that you may in unison show My body and My glory to the world. The time is short. Be serious about unity, so that the world can at last believe that I am the One.
To me, the Lord added something more at this point: "When you get back home, I will add a bit more concerning the churches in the Netherlands." This He indeed did a few weeks later, in the following words:
Why are you pulling separately? It is this very pulling separately which stops you from being led by My Spirit. The special calling that I have given to the Christians of the Netherlands is being rejected. And you hold on to your separations. I have created unity and broken down the wall of division in My own flesh. Humble yourselves before Me and before each other, and seek each other out. Reconcile yourselves with each other, like Jacob and Esau. Forget what you have suffered from each other and celebrate together the feast of reconciliation. I, Jesus, the Lord, ask this of you.
p.275 After all that I have described is there a vision for the Church of the future? The Lord said to me once: "The churches of Europe will be destroyed, but from the ruins something new will be born." On another occasion He said: "The most important thing is that there should be a new beginning. many people in the churches will be fused with the world.. But there will be a group of Christians from different churches who will come together. These will become the salt of the earth, a Church which will be priestly in its totality. A great filtering will take place, which will be shocking for many."
A time of great movement is coming", said the Lord, "but those who rest in Me need have no fear, in the same way as My people Israel had nothing to fear in the time of the plagues in Egypt."
I asked on one occasion: "Is this the end of the Church in Europe?" The Lord's answer was: "It is not the end, it is going to take a position up front! How on earth can people say that things are going badly. Things are going well! I am going to rearrange the Church of Europe and put it in order."
It really does seem as if in this part of the world we are on the eve of the arrival of a new Church, which will not resemble the current structures, but will be a Church in movement, a Church in freedom. Christians should be prepared for this in good time, so that afterwards they do not go down with the much-loved old certainties.
If the churches still want to have a role to play, Jesus must be at the center of things, first, over and above all church structures. "God had decided that to achieve the fulness of time He would bring everything together under one head, Christ." (Eph 1:10). It is a grievous sin that in a world where the need is desperate, the churches persevere in their lack of unity and see their own priorities as more important than Jesus' last prayer: "That My disciples may be one." Why this blindness?
The first priority is to make oneself humble. To begin with there should be a meeting of responsible church leaders, not for the purpose of discussion but rather to break down our devout stubbornness and to beg pardon, and ask for insight on how to get out of this cul-de-sac. Who is going to make the first move?
p.277 On this theme the Lord said to me: "I love My Church, which is moving towards its final goal. But I am often upset by the lack of unity between churches and amongst groups. Charity should be more important to you than pure doctrine. What do you know about pure doctrine anyway? If you are not in a close relationship of love with each other, you certainly do not share in the truth."
In this respect the church leadership must be united in being prepared for a great thinning out process, because they truly need to work towards a small, powerful Christian force rather than a superficial mass movement. While in the past the stress was always put on keeping hold of the masses (it didn't really matter what they believed, as long as they stayed together), the substance had disappeared, and what is more, the masses have now been lost as well.
p.279 The time when great churches embraced all the people seems to be over, at least for Europe. An opposite approach is making itself felt: "The time has come for judgment to begin in the house of God" (1 Pet 4:17). And this means a radical thinning out. When we follow this road, a church or a community becomes a temporary home for those who are children in the spiritual sense, a place for them to grow to adulthood, and not a place where they should be permanently dependent. it should prepare them to personally receive the Lord's leadership and His Spirit. It is the same as in a family, which is also a community for a limited time, where children are raised to adulthood. A church or a community is not a final end in itself.
p.282. Yes we need a vision for the future that extends beyond earthly boundaries. True reality is not here on earth, however hard people try to believe that that is the case. Jesus proclaimed: "My kingdom is not of this world", and he underscored this by His death and resurrection.
When the people waited in expectation...they asked John the Baptist: 'What should we do?" (Luke 3). Is this a living question for us too? And what is the answer?
For leaders it means that they must have the courage to lead Christians forward in full freedom of Christ. In order to do this, they also have to know this true freedom from their own experience, for you cannot lead someone else further than you have come yourself. They should give up their managerial tasks and their anxiety that matters will slip out of their hands. The Lord once said to me: "There is no need for you to be so afraid about whether you are doing well. I am standing right behind you." You get much further with a bit of encouragement than you do with a lot of timorous correction. For the others who have made clear to themselves that they really are Christians, it means the resolution to make use of their freedom, no longer being servile to social and ecclesiastical systems which depend for their functioning on rights and obligations, but being free to follow Jesus and stand beside Him in founding God's kingdom on earth, yet not feeling forced or obliged to do this, for indeed the Church of the future will be a Church of freedom.
p.284 Unfortunately most people are terrified of their freedom, because people are frightened of responsibility. For this reason they unloaded the freedom that Jesus brought us and gave it to the civil authorities and the church authorities, who have been more than ready to take over and take control of things themselves.
p.286 The Church is already there, it is coming in the same sense in which Jesus is coming. I meet people like this ever more often, individuals from every kind of church and from no church: spiritual wanderers, who for one reason or another, have set out on a search, often after a disappointment, and have found meaning in accepting Jesus alone, as is in my own case. This future Church may seem a bit as if it is still in the air, unorganized, not worked out in any kind of agreement, but coming from an inner impulse. It is a bit like a bird that is migrating.
I perceive a similar sense of unrest amongst Christians, a kind of migration, yet for each person it is different. So it is that gradually a whole network of Christians is becoming visible, Christians who are looking for their own way to walk with Jesus...and are finding it. A lot of them meet each other, often coming from different churches, and they meet as a community of brothers and sisters, not needing any organizational form, but a real encounter. These individuals are not simple unconnected grains of sand, nor are they a sectarian group who have shaped their own form of Christianity. Through the Spirit, Who pervades all, they recognize each other immediately. How often on my wanderings, also when I was behind the iron curtain, has it happened that people have said after half an hour together: "It seems as if we have known each other for years."
Such personal encounters can develop into small living nuclei, house communities, just as in St. Paul's days, not existing in order to lean on each other, in order to become "consumer-believers", but in order to enrich each other, to form a inspiration, and to spread further the love of Christ so that "the world can see that we are His disciples (John 13:35).
p.289. There is already a lot happening in a hidden way, just as was the case with Jesus in Nazareth. The time seems to have come when Christians can, without making a great fuss, have the courage to go further along this road in public, and indeed dare to do so openly. It is only hoped that something such as this that has been set in motion by God's Spirit does not get stifled in meetings and other organizational forms. For where the human impetus for organization gains ground, the Holy Spirit slips quietly out of the backdoor. Our urge for organization must be fastened to the cross.
These nuclei will thrive so long as Jesus is the only Leader. "In this way the Body of Christ builds itself up from within on charity (Eph 4:15): every Christian, every nucleus with its own gift. Together one body and one spirit, no longer divided, lurching hither and thither on account of differences of doctrine, but growing together towards Christ, our Head (Eph 4:4-7,14,15). The time is fast approaching in which organic structure rather than organized structure will develop in the Body of Christ. The un-liberated people of today feel totally helpless and powerless, without any form of organization. But there is now a whole people on the move through Europe. Jesus described such a phenomenon once as: "a community of love which shines like the moon in the night sky."
Formation and guidance in this way has to take place above all on an individual basis or in small groups, with people who have committed themselves to following Jesus, and have paid a price for this, not with people concerned only with theoretical knowledge or people who have obvious human skills, for example in the field of organization or the ability to speak. The New Testament is concerned with other tasks: that of being an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a shepherd and a teacher (Eph 4:11), where these arise not as natural human qualities, not given by other people, but given by the Lord and His Spirit.
p.290 Should there be some kind of mutual relationships or order amongst these nuclei? For we human beings, who always want to plan everything, it will require an attitude of trust in God to leave things to the Lord of the Church for the time being. That was what Jesus did. I imagine that by present-day standards He was a pretty poor organizer.
Continual dependence on Jesus' leadership and that of His Spirit will be essential. If we do not have that, the danger will again be there that we human beings subtly try to take over from the Lord. This is our weak point, we human beings who believe so much in ourselves. Lord please keep us small and humble!
Finally, how, in broad outline, will the Body of Christ be built up and function in the Europe of tomorrow? I would summarize my expectations as follows: A Church in movement reminds you of concentric circles in water, which appear when you throw a stone in. They all move together in harmony, round Jesus as their center, and their movement proceeds outwards from this center.
A clearly recognizable Church will be there around Jesus, consisting of small, living nuclei. I think that Jesus had in mind many such nuclei when He said to me once: "I do not have in mind large meetings of like-minded people, but I have in mind things on a much smaller scale." When Jesus woke me in the night once and asked me to write down the following, it struck me that Jesus sees these as some kind of commando force: "There must be traveling ambassadors. This must be a normal phenomenon amongst Christians from all kinds of groups and churches, so that fruitful contacts can be made. This is a better way of preserving the unity of belief than a magisterium or a synod which is timorously trying to keep control of everything. There should be a more dynamic Church, more lively, not divided into power blocks, a Church which can adapt its form to different situations, just as I adopted many different forms after My resurrection. Love is mobile and supple, intellect is hard and sharp. That is the way I want to have things, because I do not sit on a throne, instead I travel around through My kingdom."
Around the nucleus, there will be a WIDER CIRCLE OF BELIEVERS and half-believers, of sympathizers and those interested, just as there was in Jesus' own time. These would be people who are still searching, that circle of eternal onlookers who profit enthusiastically for a time, but continue to lead their own lives. We should not be too quick to ask them if they want to be Christians, and certainly not for the purely human consideration of "the more the merrier". As long as they are not ready or not willing to accept the consequences, they should continue to be inspired by a fascinating example, but not be pushed. We must certainly not compromise the high evangelical ideals, just for the sake of numbers.
Jesus was aiming higher, at a nucleus of dedicated disciples, but at the same time He did not exclude other people. But the question arises: Will sufficient attention be given to the huge mass of sheep without a shepherd? Do the ideas we have discussed not aim at a kind of elite Christianity?
p.292. The fact is that even now the sheep without a shepherd are being neglected. It is precisely in the context of a renewed Christianity that these people will be made welcome and attended to by truly living Christians. Concern for the masses will actually become greater. But the starting point will be different from what it has been. A solid group at the center, then the masses, and not the other way round. Were there not many priests, scribes and people learned in the law in Jesus' own day? But still Jesus talked about "sheep without a shepherd". What on earth would He say today with all these theologians and clerical civil servants?
Jesus came to the world to save it, but remained outside of it, did not blend in with it, did not chum up with it, in the way that the churches have done. He called on the world to turn towards Him.
should also be the attitude
of the Church of the future, like Jesus: fully human, at the side of
people and at the same time outside the world, attentive to God and the
other world. The aim of the Church is not to build itself up, but to
the world with the Kingdom of God in all possible situations.
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