The Great Wilderness Exodus is coming for the Fellowship Weary
Transformed in the Wilderness?
In Scripture, the wilderness is often used by God to hone and refine godly character within his people and especially those whom God has called to be his messengers. However, in times of apostasy and corruption within God’s people and their organized religion, true believers are often attacked and forced to retreat into the wilderness for their own safety, sanity, and preservation of true faith.
Unfortunately, most true believers who give up on trying to find a suitable fellowship (there are some—but not many) find themselves on their own in no-man’s land, struggling to find help with their walk and growth in Christ. Their own wounds are left undressed, where only corporate ministry by the true body of Christ in fellowship can facilitate total recovery and wholeness. The wounds of God’s people everywhere are covered up and latent. Lingering past defilements, spiritual trauma, damaged emotions, and various self-centered issues are endemic—likened to Jeremiah’s prognosis of his day: “From the least to the greatest everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:10-11).
Granted, it is better to limp along in the wilderness than to comply with the lies of churchianity that usually lead to a slow death of faith in Christ. Churchianity with its false teachings tends to groom and program believers in Christ to put their faith in man’s teachings, and to live and work for the organization’s agenda. The nature of false doctrine is to make believers in Christ dependent on leadership and blindly follow, not reading Scripture for themselves or learning to hear and obey the voice of Christ individually.
But without accountability with other like-minded believers and true leadership as described in Ephesians 4:11-16, nomad Christians trekking alone in the wilderness miss vital character transforming processes.
Not Trusting God for Others
Perhaps the most sorely missed aspect of being transformed into Christ-likeness for the Christian in no man’s land is learning to trust God for others. Fears and expectations of betrayal within fellowship-relationships often obstruct the wounded or insecure nomad Christian from becoming closely involved with others. A standoffish approach to working and sharing within fellowship, even with family becomes part of the nomad Christian’s carnal boundary-setting dynamic. Growing in grace and mentoring others requires getting to know others on a personal basis and being known by others with proper boundaries. Those proper boundaries are laid out in the New Testament, with the foundational guidelines of grace, truth, humility, confession, and love. Importantly, proper boundaries grow with a healthy fear of God, respect for others, and proper respect with discernment towards leadership.
The avoidance of becoming vulnerable and real in the lives of others is one of the most difficult carnal defense mechanisms any Christian must overcome and more so for the nomad Christian, for many hide in the wilderness suffering from relationship abuses and betrayals. Like any other carnal issue this characteristic must be brought to death and the wounds supporting this personality dynamic must be healed in Christ.
Intimacy with Christ without the interference of close relationships on earth is all too easy for the nomad Christian. And for a season Christ will reveal himself to the nomad Christian while they are protected in the isolation of the wilderness. However, to be an effective disciple of Christ one must become vulnerable to the disappointments by others and not flinch when it happens.
Christ’s example of holding people at a proper distance, yet being personable, open, and honest is the disciple’s benchmark for Christ-like character development. Christ did not trust himself to anyone, yet he was trustworthy, approachable, non-condemning, and insightful, thus very influential in the personal lives of others.
“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:25-25).
Non-Constructive Burden Bearing
The nomad Christian does learn many aspects of true discipleship while in no man’s land. However, for most the law of Christ becomes easily misunderstood, where bearing the burden of others who struggle becomes a ministry of continual correction with little or no empathy. (See Galatians 6:1-5.) Often, when a strong, yet wounded nomad Christian does find a fellowship home, they inevitably work themselves into a position of informal leadership and gain the reputation as being the fellowship sage, giving advice and counsel, yet at the same time being aloof to the goals and plans of the fellowship leaders. They still hide in their own wilderness type fortification, unwilling to examine their own inner motives in true humility.
Pointing out the mistakes and issues in others in the guise of helping becomes their forte or gift, yet it becomes their sense of wellbeing and they begin to draw life from helping others rather than from Christ, ultimately taking the place of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives others.
Other bent character formations lurk in the wilderness for the nomad Christian where Satan brings a unique set of deception and often cultivates counterfeit gifts.
Carnal Spiritualism and False Voices—Picked up in the Wilderness
The practicing of the gifts of the Holy Spirit throughout much of Christendom has become a popular and yet a very misunderstood activity. Discernment of the counterfeit gifts is virtually non-existent, where carnal spiritualism is hoisted up as a move of the Holy Spirit in just about every sector of the body of Christ.
Carnal and false leaders push God’s people towards obtaining spiritual power with little-to-no regard to the Holy Spirit’s work of discipline, sanctification, training, timing, and leadership. Christians in the wilderness can also become deceived by a corrupt desire for God’s power and lust after the gifts. Many nomad Christians become caught-up in coveting the power of God for reputation, or a self-aggrandized agenda, or to overcome defilement and issues of heart—just as easily as the duped Christian trapped in charismatic-Pentecostalism forms of churchianity.
The nomad Christian becomes highly susceptible to a false shepherd’s voice as they struggle alone, missing the accountability found in like-minded fellowship. Likewise, the written word of God becomes easily misunderstood and its power to become living and active is diminished without corporate discipleship interaction. Even in the wilderness, arrogance can easily take root and the deep motives of heart that are contrary to God’s will and purposes remain hidden—yet seep out through carnal prayers.
What Manner of Spirit?
Some have a Zealot Mentality and Arrogant Elitism
A contrary condition of heart is a plague to most believers in Christ including nomad Christians. On the surface most committed Christians feel a true love for Jesus and are willing to follow Christ anywhere. However, when trials and relationship challenges come, the true condition of heart and spirit comes out.
As the original disciples followed Christ, on many occasions their true motives and disposition of heart became apparent, giving Christ opportunity to point out these issues. In those accounts in Scripture Christ corrected his followers and disciples and this is still the case today. Unfortunately, few discern Christ’s means of correcting a carnal and contrary heart—especially when leadership is lacking Christ-like character and is aloof to the carnal conceit so many walk in. The following passage with footnote is an example of how easily the serious believer in Christ can develop a zealot mentality and become filled with arrogant elitism.
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. [Some manuscripts add and he said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man came not to destroy people’s lives but to save them.’] And they went on to another village” (Luke 9:51-56).
The nomad Christian easily succumbs to a carnal zeal to restore God’s people to right relationship with Christ. This zeal often lacks humility and wisdom, where motives of heart and a spirit of destruction seeps into their prayer life causing trouble and destruction rather than intersession that is heard from on high.
The nomad Christian can easily develop a disdain for anyone not aligned with their zeal, including established leadership and organized church. For the most part, this disdain becomes hidden from one’s own understanding and unconsciously emanates in fellowship and relationships. Thus, an aura of standoffishness and spiritual smugness often hovers over the nomad Christian like a dark cloud.
Giving Up the Nomad-Zealot Mentality
Becoming Part of the True Body of Christ
In the days to come, Christians everywhere will face increased persecution and demonic oppression. Much of this persecution has already arisen within Christianity as Christians increasingly turn against Christians. The growing schisms are led by false and carnal believers/leaders driven with anxiety and fear as they see the world falling apart. Many become radical activists with a mission to soften the Gospel, taking Christianity beyond “seeker friendly” into a “world-friendly” religion.
Already the internal meltdown has started within Christianity and soon a definite distinction between the false and the true will become glaring and confusing for the lost, the lukewarm, and the nomad Christian. The great falling away will begin and cause even greater rifts within Christianity as true ministries and fellowships begin to boldly appear proclaiming the good news of the coming kingdom. (See Matthew 24:9-14.)
For the nomad Christian, hiding in the wilderness will no longer be sanctioned by the Lord. The call to come out from amongst the false and worldly is coming to the confused church-going believer, with the urge to become unified in fellowship with true believers. The nomad Christian will not be exempt to this call of the Holy Spirit.
And with this call comes an urgent pressure to work on the heart to foster unity among the brethren and recognition of true leadership. This will require the nomad Christian to give up any vestige of the zealot approach to making things happen for God. Learning to submit to true leadership without becoming a “people-pleaser” or a “yes-boy” will be one of the nomad Christian’s challenges. There will be a great need for accountability amongst the true body of Christ, from the least to the greatest. Review Galatians and the Apostle Paul’s approach to holding others accountable (including leadership) to the true Gospel. The main issue for all in the coming days will be to grasp a true and solid understanding of the Gospel of Christ marked by example living.
What We Went Through in the Wilderness
These insights have been gained by way of our own wilderness journey as a ministry and for me personally, which all began some forty years ago. My personal wilderness trek started in the spring of 1975, the moment I gave God permission to do whatever it would take to change me into the person God called me to be. I concluded that prayer of commitment by asking the Lord not to stop the work, even if I asked him to stop.
Within a few months of that prayer the first of many trials and disappointments came crashing down upon my life and ministry. At the time I was a very young and naive assistant pastor in my home town Free Methodist church, which is an evangelical holiness denomination.
I was introduced abruptly to the insidious work of a hireling senior pastor and weak conference leadership that did little to mentor, train, or exercise discernment concerning pastoral appointments. In the winter of 1975-76, I found myself looking for a new fellowship home and a different denomination to continue on in ministry. Through the following years I worked in evangelical, Pentecostal, and charismatic fellowships until 1990 when I was led by the Lord to stop trying to change city hall and strike out on my own. (Stop trying to Change city hall, meaning that no true reform comes from within a corrupt and wayward organization, but true change comes from the outside and apart from the influence of the false.)
Nineteen ninety was the beginning of another long journey with the start of a non-denominational home fellowship where I counseled during the week and held Sunday meetings. Our support group met on Thursday evenings wherever we could use an empty church basement or someone’s larger recreation room.
Through those twenty-five years we saw many Christians come and go, looking for a magic teaching or a wondrous supernatural experience to make their lack of peace and instability disappear painlessly. Case after case of heart aching accounts of abuse and roots of dark bondage were revealed and yet few embraced the work of the cross and followed Christ.
Most who did drop out did so because as a pastor I refused to do their work for them. Many wanted me, as their counselor and pastor to make their inner turmoil disappear by relieving them of the responsibility of working out their own salvation in fear and trembling. (See Philippians 2:12-18.) It was the hard work of learning and being trained in discernment to deal with the vast issues of the fallen human nature and a wounded people who passively float along, wanting to play church.
We learned quickly to avoid trying to change Christianity and not to take on battles that the Holy Spirit was not guiding us in. We learned to work with those who God sent and grow up together and practice healthy scripturally based fellowship.
In waiting patiently upon the Lord and doing the hard work with no lime light upon us, our testing and trials proved our advancements. In this we gained much revelation and insight to develop sound doctrine that helps the sincere disciple follow Christ and not lean on us. We learned to die to our own agenda and not control and manipulate others, but present the entire Gospel of Christ with no strings attached.
And we experienced many disappointments as we learned how deceitful the human heart can become—how easily the devil can fill an evil unbelieving heart when you least expect it.
Taking Courage to become Vulnerable
Trusting God, not Ourselves or Others
To expect others not to disappoint us is something every true disciple of Christ must overcome. Trusting God for others, which includes allowing them to make mistakes and be disappointments, is a key Christ-like character. Few seasoned believers in Christ ever achieve this godly attribute.
Instead, most walk in fear of being let down and learn to subtly control fellowship friendships, spouses, children and extended family to the extent of becoming obsessed. Many saints walk in such bondage to relationships and suffer a spectrum of relationship idolatry, from mild anxiety to extreme phobia.
Christ’s discipline will take every saint (including those hiding in the wilderness) into the valley of relationship death, where trusting God for others brings freedom and peace. This work cannot be accomplished in the wilderness entirely, only by way of healthy body life within solid fellowship as guided by true leadership in Christ. We are to diligently learn to speak the truth in love and, “to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Ephesians 4:15-17).
An Invisible Fragmented Remnant
Unfortunately, the body of Christ is not joined and working properly together, making the body of Christ grow up in divine love. Rather, what does exist is a fragmented remnant of sincere believers strewn here and there throughout America and the world. Stuck in troubled fellowships or in the wilderness isolated, yet with many working in true ministries and fellowships, preparing for the coming day.
This fragmented remnant has very little power and very little recognition, but presses on to the high call of God in Christ Jesus. Soon, when a threshold of fear has been reached God will call, assemble, and make visible a mighty army that knows Christ intimately. They will carry the clarion call to come out from the false and from the deceit of this world. Their message will be the good news of the coming kingdom.
No Saint Left Out or Left Behind
True Ministries Must Be Prepared
An exodus and gathering of true believers in Christ is about to start, where the nomad Christian and sincere Christian in fellowship alike will seek unity of fellowship with likeminded believers. The unifying catalysts for this coming final move of God will be from increased persecution, extreme wickedness, signs in the heavens, the earth reeling from one disaster after another, droughts and economic hardships, nations teetering with crime and instability, wars, Israel under continued oppression, and a very confused Christianity becoming more and more divided. The Holy Spirit will increasingly call saint after saint wherever they are to wake up, come away, and prepare.
It will be a time for true ministries, fellowships, and for unheard of servants declaring in great power the message of how to become cleansed and transformed into a true servant of Christ. True ministries and true servants who are waking up now must become prepared to handle masses of frightened people who will be desperately seeking the truth. Most importantly, each must walk in discernment, where Christian workers and leaders will need to be experts in the gifts and rightly hear Christ’s voice to avoid the false and to weed out the tares planted by the evil one.
A Kingdom of God People
Love, Unity and Power for the Last Days True Church
Christ will see to it that the body of Christ, his church, will be pure, united, and walking together in love with him—in one voice. A people reflecting the glory of his presence within his body—”a kingdom of God” people truly distinguished from the false and the wayward.
If you are wandering in no man’s land and have given up on seeing His church become His bride, then it is our prayer that this message will warm your heart and move you to seek his face and prepare to be part of what God is about to do.
Copyright © 2015 Charles Pretlow All rights reserved