Eyes For The Body
by Michael Barrett
The subject of this article is eyes. Not natural eyes but spiritual eyes. Eyes for the Body of Christ. This article is about eyes, not just in the Body, or to the Body, but for the Body.
The function of the natural eye is seeing. Likewise, the function of spiritual eyes is seeing. Natural eyes see natural things whereas spiritual eyes see natural things and spiritual things. The Lord has put spiritual eyes in His Body. These "eyes" are a gift to the Body. These eyes are prophets, prophetesses and the grace of God put into prophetic people.
The Context of Spiritual Eyes
Though the eyes are created to see, if you remove them from the body, they loose the context which actually gives purpose to their function. Eyes are created to see, but they are created to see for the body! Just as natural eyes are created to see for the natural body, spiritual eyes are created to see for the spiritual Body. If you remove the eyes from the body, what value or benefit are they? If spiritual eyes are removed from the spiritual Body (the Body of Christ) what value or benefit are they?
In this we see that the Body of Christ is the context within which spiritual eyes realize their purpose. In other words, the purpose of the eyes is to see for the Body. The eyes were created for the Body. Take the eyes out of the Body and both suffer. The Body suffers and the eyes suffer.
Prophets and prophetesses are given to the Body of Christ to see for the Body. If, for whatever reason, the function of seeing for the Body is refused, all suffer. Oftentimes the Body will reject prophets and prophetesses, and oftentimes prophets and prophetesses reject the Body. Either of these responses, regardless of what motivates the response, will neutralize the purpose and potential of spiritual eyes.
Now, technically we all realize that prophets and prophetesses, as well as every member of the Body, are in the Body. So I'm not suggesting here that anything we could do would actually put anyone out of the Body. The issue being communicated here is not technical, but functional. Once a person is born again, they are put into the Body and there they remain as members of the one Body of Christ. Again, the issue I desire to discuss here is function. In the Body, to the Body and for the Body. These three phrases have very different connotations.
The Prophet's Function
It is not my intention in this piece to delve deeply into teaching on the subject of prophets / prophetesses and their function as a New Testament reality. There are numbers of quality resources available which more fully address this subject. I do, however, want to point you to a few verses of scripture which may bring some understanding relative to this article.
In the Old Testament, the person who stood in a prophetic office was at times referred to as a "seer." In fact, in 1 Samuel 9:9, the Scripture says that those who were called prophets were previously known as seers. Gad, for instance was called David's seer in 2 Samuel 24:11. Samuel, in an encounter with Saul, referred to himself as a seer (1 Samuel 9:19). There are quite a number of other individuals called seers in the Old Testament, such as Iddo, Hanani, Asaph, Jeduthun and Amos.
In the New Testament, the words prophet, prophetess, prophesy, prophecy, etc. occur more than 200 times. The words translated in these occurrences can be traced to root words that mean in part "light" and "sight." In other words, these words mean to see and to give light to or make known. The New Testament function is exactly what the Old Testament function was. The operation of the "seer" in the New Testament and in the Old has to do with making known and illuminating. The function of the "eyes" is to see. The function of the New Testament prophet / prophetess is to carry and release a grace to the Body for seeing.
For the Body or For Themselves
The grace of God is always inherent in the gift of God. Paul, an apostle of God, said, "I am what I am by the grace of God", in Romans 15:10. In this same verse, Paul acknowledges that the effect of his work did not come as a result of him laboring, but came as a result of the grace of God that was with him. The grace was working Paul, rather than Paul working the grace. You will do what you are, if you are in an environment in which there is a "natural" flow. The point is that a prophetic person is going to see. They cannot help themselves. The grace will operate, regardless of whether they will it or not.
This is an important point, because it has been my experience that when I find a "displaced" prophet or prophetic person, they are normally in one of two modes, if not both modes. The first mode is that they have been reduced to only seeing for themselves. The second is that they are continuing to see for the Body, but because they are displaced, their seeing is turned into judgment and criticism.
Now, if you are a prophet / prophetess and this hits you, please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I am in no way wanting to slam you. I think most of the displaced prophets and prophetic people that I meet are in such a condition as a result of what the Body, and leadership has done to them. It is not my intention to blame anyone for the condition, but rather to identify it and offer the pathway to a solution.
To all of the displaced prophets and prophetic people who read this article, I am truly sorry for all the needless pain we have caused. Please forgive us. We need you functioning in the Body now more than ever before. I am asking the Lord for a major outpouring of His grace for the ministry of reconciliation specific to restoring the prophetic to a place of function in the Body. The Body must have eyes to go forward effectively.
Diversity and Assembling
I also want to make an appeal to the prophets / prophetesses and leaders alike. We must realize that the need for God ordained relationship is greater now than at any other time in human history. The idea that prophetic people can't get along with the other graces / gifts in the Body and work together is preposterous. The idea that evangelists, teachers, pastors and apostles can't get along with and work together with prophetic people is also preposterous. We all need one another, and no one gift or person is any more needed in the Body than the others are.
In Acts 13:1-4, we see a beautiful picture of diversity. Prophets and teachers were assembled there in God's sovereignty. These giftings could not be more diverse. However, these brethren had come through their differences to a place that they could worship and minister to the Lord together. They were assembled! Their hearts were given to the Lord and to one another. This is a picture of true unity. There was genuine relationship there at Antioch. The Holy Spirit marked their fellowship with His approval by visiting them and speaking to them. The result of the relationship between these brethren and the unity among them has had an impact on the Church for all of time. The commanded blessing of Psalms 133 was realized by this group of believers. May God grant us His grace to come to such a place. May the Lord raise up 1,000 Antioch's, even 10,000!! Perhaps the result might be the sending of 1,000 or 10,000 like Barnabas and Paul! God grant it!!
The Gifts of God: Giving and Receiving
In Ephesians chapter 4, the scripture outlines the five gifts given when Christ ascended into heaven. The scripture, in verse 8 says that Jesus gave these various gifts to mankind. In the giving of the gift to man, is the gift then for man? These gifts are given to man and then the man to whom the gift is given is then given to the Church. A gift made a gift of and given. If you are a five fold gifted person, you have been given a gift, but you have been made a gift to the Church. This simply means that the gift wasn't given to you for you to use for yourself. The gift belongs to the Church. It belongs in the Church operating to equip the saints - the Body of Christ! Your employment is in the Church. The context of your function is the Body of Christ!
Now there are two very important issues at play here. They are: 1) the gifted person giving themselves to the Body of Christ (and obviously, the first order of giving oneself is giving oneself to the Lord) and 2) the Body of Christ receiving the gifted person. The responsibility of the gifted person is to the Lord in obedience, but this can never be realized without the Body. The responsibility of the Body is to receive and honor the gifted person. Frankly, we must get a lot better at doing both in order to realize the full potential available in this divine exchange. I believe it has been said, "Insecure pastors meet rejected prophets, a recipe for disaster." That is true, but it is also true that any undealt with hangups will nuetralize the effect of the intention of the Lord. We must ask the Lord for His help.
I believe I have been seeing that we have come to a time that we are about to experience tremendous reconciliation in the Body. I am hearing that we are about to see many, many prophetic people restored to their place of function in the Body by way of genuine relationship. The eyes are coming back into the Body! Psalms 74:9 says, "We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us that knoweth how long." What a tragic condition. We cannot continue in such a state. We must have the grace of God in restoring the eyes to the Body. Please pray with me to that end.
"Lord, help us! Help us with your grace, Father. Give us hearts of love for one another. No matter how diverse we may seem to be, we need each other. Cover us with your grace, Lord. Grant to us repentance and reconciliation. Put the eyes back in the Body in a functional way so we can see more than we have been able to see. Give those prophetic people among us grace for us and give us grace for them. Give us all more of your love for one another. We cry out to you, Lord, and trust you for your work among us all. Amen, so be it."