(The impetus to finally put these thoughts “on paper” came about because of a conversation my sister Sherilyn and I had about the words of an old favorite Beatles song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps…”!)
Wanted to share with you what the words of that Beatles song really mean! (To me 😉 )
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” really is–are you ready for this?–Jesus singing to “the church”. Yep. It’s true, I can’t help but hear within it a message to “the church”, accompanied by his guitar gently weeping for the church (Could it possibly be a post script to Rev. 2 and 3; His messages to the 7 churches?!). O.k. Maybe not! But to me at least, it is a lament to an entity that has gone amiss. An entity, commonly called, “the church”, The song does an amazing job of stating what has gone wrong, not with Jesus’ Bride to be, but what has gone wrong with what became an institution called the church. Without the Beatles realizing it, there is much truth being spoken out in their song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” about an institution which since long ago has been known as “The Church”. In their song “Revolution”, they say, “You say you want a revolution? Well you know, we all want to change the world. You say that it’s the institution?….”
I say, Yeah… that institution needs a revolution.
For the past several years I’ve been re-thinking “church”, that is, the entity called “the church”, and my part in it. Interestingly one of the definitions of “entity” in Merriam Webster’s online dictionary is: “An organization (such as [a church]) that has an identity separate from those of its members.” Exactly. The identity of the true members of Jesus’ bride and body is entirely different the the identity the institutional organized church has taken on, it’s identity is separate from that of it’s members. The members of Jesus’ body and bride have been given the Life of a Person who promises that his load is unburdensome and light, while the entity called the church historically has immersed it’s followers into being conformed within a system so loaded with burdensome and extra heavy baggage that it squashes the very Life right out of them. So, for some time now I’ve looked at what is called “the church” with a growing sense that something truly is amiss, realizing that I too, needed to set aside a whole lot of baggage that I had been carrying around about the church I grew up in (Still working on that…). I began to understand that it’s function and purpose had morphed into something different then that of the original gatherings of the followers of Jesus.
I’ve had to re-think and re-evaluate that “normal” experience which we grew up in; our church experience which we knew then, was not what it should have and could have been. During that time of re-evaluation and transformation there gradually came a time for me when the Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” began to have a whole new meaning as it moved from being just a hauntingly beautiful love song to an epic lamentation sung by Jesus himself, accompanied by his weeping guitar! (Stay with me here- maybe I can ‘xplain what I’ve heard…!) It became Jesus weeping over what what had become of something that men were identifying him with, something they called His “Church”, but, it was instead something that had been hijacked long ago by mere men who were sure they knew better than He how it was supposed to function, how it was supposed to be built, and what was supposed to to be it’s focus. The simple conclusion; church as we now know it is not functioning as it originally functioned.
Looking back in history, by the time of Constantine, men had stripped it of it’s original Love and Life and the heavenly power of God which it had been given at it’s birth, gradually and subtly institutionalizing it and politicizing it with the earthly powers of men. It devolved through the centuries from what it was intended to be: A beautiful bride reflecting and radiating Jesus Love to a broken world, a love that draws the world around it out of it’s own brokenness by an amazing relational experience of God’s kind of love (Agape love) which they had with their Groom as he was filling and restoring them with his Life (Zoe life: God‘s Life.). He shared with them/us the love, joy and peace of a Life which could only be experienced by our relationship with Him as a bride and body dwelling in the Son.
Church as we’ve known it, church as it devolved through the centuries to become what we now know and experience, is a poor reflection of that reality. It had become draped again in the robes of “religion at it’s best(worst)”, which Jesus so boldly confronted while he was walking upon this earth. He brought us a new way to walk: He is the Way to walk. He brought us truth, which turned the religious world of his day upside down, because he is the Truth. He brought back to us the Life which we lost in the Garden long ago, back to himself: Life itself. Our 1st parents ate of the wrong tree in that garden and passed on to us a deception– that now as our own god’s we get to decide what is right and wrong. That we now have Knowledge so we can decide for ourselves what is good and what is bad. We in essence, tossed God out of our garden, saying like any “normal” person (2 year old!), ” I can do it myself!” Except what really happened was, we got tossed out of the garden and were separated from the Tree of Life.
Jesus came back to restore that. He came to restore Life. He came so we could eat of that Tree again. He offers Himself as our Life, our Bread, and our Living Water. Jesus came back as a gatherer, to gather unto himself the community of God: a family, a bride and a body. And a new Temple for Himself to dwell in. And so now, we are His temples . Church in it’s beginning was called ecclesia, it was a gathering, a people gathered in the name of Jesus, as his temple. It was and is a people, not a place. We are his gathering place.
Here is the good (startling?) news: What has been commonly called “church” is not the place where he gathers. He does not dwell in buildings called “churches” or “temples”. He instead gathers in the hearts of men and women when and where ever they gather in His name. That is because in those who are born again, he is already abiding and residing within the hearts of men and women, not within the walls of institutions by any name. “Church” as we’ve come to experience it, for the most part has become a place you go to to be a part of a religious event. Depending upon where you go and who is going there with you, it may be a “good experience”, but, is it God’s best experience of His presence in the church? Within that question is a hint of what is amiss with our old/normal understanding of “church”. The picture that automatically comes to mind with the current usage of the word “church” is a place or a building (As in the question that’s commonly asked, “Where do you go to church?), or a denomination with this commonly asked question, “What church do you go to?” Church has become a thing or somewhere that you go to, to “do church”. And church there is done with an “order of worship”, or liturgy with dozens of our own variations (Which we called “improvements”.), being passed down through the centuries by tradition. You can count on them is some form: Welcome/introductions. Singing/music. Bible reading. Standing. Sitting. Offering. Etc., If you are Protestant your main focus is the Sermon. If you are Catholic your focus is the Eucharist. With all that, you’ve been to church where you are, for the most part, the passive listening audience. It’s been this way for decades. It’s been more or less this way for centuries. We have been going to an entity called the church with a separate life of it’s own which tends to tug us away from the Life Jesus wants to give his people.
You can search all around and find some “good” churches, some with a little life. You can search further and find some “better” churches, some who have better life. If you search really really hard you may find and experience the golden thread kept intact through the centuries by Jesus himself; the genuine functioning faith and practice of the early ecclesia which has survived the devastating effects of “The Church”. The ecclesia, the gathered “community” is still linked by a golden thread back to what Jesus originally intended and built, and has preserved through the centuries: A community of believers, the ecclesia, actively functioning under Jesus’ headship as he gathers them unto Himself. I see our time as ripe for the rebirth and renewal of the faith and the function originally given by Jesus’ disciples to the early followers of Jesus.
So, here we are today, The Church remains as it is; The Church, with it’s perceived “normal” function as we’ve known it, built upon “the good, the bad, (and the ugly?”) traditions of men.
Jesus’ guitar is gently weeping over church as it is. Much good is contained within it. Much good flows through it because God is gracious and good to his children within it whom he loves. But still, as it is, functionally it remains built on a foundation of man’s traditions, man‘s “good”, not God’s best. There is a better way. There is a best. He is trying to remind us. He is trying to wake us up. Jesus intends for us to have his best, something much better than “(our) good”.
So enough of trying to set the scene. Here are the words of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and what I think it is saying from this new perspective:
“I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping while my guitar gently weeps”
The 1st line speaks a simple truth: The love of the church is sleeping… He is telling us that we have become the Bride he spoke of in Matt. 25:5: (“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”) Startlingly true, and more so when we compare the current church love with the first love of the early ecclesia/gatherings.
“I look at the floor and I see it needs sweeping
Still my guitar gently weeps”
Continual sweeping and correcting was always a part of the growing, maturing process of the early ecclesia. To say the church floor today needs sweeping is an understatement, it is in a mess! A mess which, for the most part, we don’t even see; We’ve swept the mess under the proverbial rug for centuries. What was hidden there is not pretty…
“I don’t know why nobody told you
How to unfold your love”
We were told, we just didn’t get it. We didn’t hear it with ears to hear.
“I don’t know how someone controlled you
They bought and sold you”
We didn’t have ears to hear and because of that we slipped under the control of someone other than the Head…
It did not take long in the history of “the church”, before it was corrupted and controlled. What had been known as the ecclesia was soon bought and then sold into slavery; enslaved to this world’s political power and the power of money. The other worldly ecclesia was persecuted and enslaved by a worldly ecclesiastical monarchical institutional system run by the whims of men, instead of the Spirit of God. The history of “The Church” was not kind to the followers of the Lord Jesus. It served a different lord which literally put to death those who did not conform to the system.
“I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps”
Time has passed but it is now time for a turning. Time to get radical, i.e. , time to get back to our roots. Time to follow the golden thread back in time to re-examine and understand what our new birth into His new family, into this new community of God, really means. Time to re-examine what being the bride of Christ really entails and how we are intended to function within that new reality.
“With every mistake we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps”
With every mistake we must surely be learning. Surely, at least, we who are the called out ones, we who have been gathered into the Lord Jesus, must be willing to learn.
I don’t know how you were *diverted
You were *perverted too
I don’t know how you were *inverted
No one alerted you”
The church was Diverted; it was distracted and it was turned aside from it’s only purpose: To love and glorify and point with joy and gladness to Jesus.
The church was Perverted; it deviated from it’s roots and it’s original, simple, Jesus honoring practice, into practices that were far removed from the life and love of Jesus. It slid into distortions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations. And what was abnormal became normal. “Church” history, if we are honest, is an incredibly sad history. Jesus’ guitar should not just be gently weeping over it, it should be screaming(for crying out loud!).
The church was Inverted; it turned inward, it became all about itself and about perpetuating itself and it’s own (political)power with it’s own prestige and earthy glory. It lost it’s first love. It removed Jesus as it’s Head and instead sat him out in the wings of the church as only an “honored guest”, and thus only had a form of godliness but not the power of his presence in it’s midst.
*Diverted 1. To turn aside from a course or direction.
2. To distract.
1. Deviating from what is considered right and correct.
2. Of, relating to, or engaging in… practices that are considered abnormal or deviant.
3. Marked by misinterpretation or distortion:
1. To turn inside out or upside down.
2. To reverse the position, order, or condition of.
“I look from the wings at the play you are staging. While my guitar gently weeps”
Jesus looks at this church from the wings where the church has placed him. Looking at the men who have taken his stage and replaced him. Men who for the most part do not yet know how to truly equip the gathered saints, because they themselves have only been trained to stage the play and act the part. And church people too, are trained and conditioned to watch the show that leaders lead as they are taught how to act their part.
Could this Jesus be wanting to step up once again to the center so he can teach all of us how his unfolding of our love for Him unfolds his Agape Love through all of us… We have been taught by default, that it is mostly up to “the trained” to make Life and Love happen within the church. It’s not. God’s Spirit within us desires to train us all how to walk as Jesus walked and do as he did… so that all of us are participating together with him in the Life and Love of a gathered community of believers.
“Look at you all Still my guitar gently weeps”
Look at us all! We need to look back to Him, get off the stage, invite Him back to the center, and let Him make Love and Life happen in us and through us.”
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh, ooh”
His guitar continues to weep,