Joe Cavendish recently observed that going to church is ‘expressing Christ.’ If only! This would be like a friend receiving a golly-wog as an expression of you. I was disappointed for Joe because in receiving institutionalism as the expression of Jesus, he had in fact ‘received’ a false christ. Should a real Christ not be our possession we will adopt phantom christs as though they are real. Thus Bill Casper, an elder of long standing imagines the Kingdom is the perpetuation of his church. It is a kingdom but not the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is not the experience of church. The Kingdom is the experience of Jesus come in our flesh both with subtlety and power.
‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them’ Matt 18.20 NIV. Christ’s church is less a group of people gathered and more the person of Jesus manifest as people. Incarnation is the truth of the new testament age.
In some places, thought by us in the West as ‘heathen,’ their religion is their life. In many places familiar to us ‘religion’ is an addition to life and a routine. In the Kingdom of God – the one built by Jesus and not by man, Jesus is our life. He lives in us and we are the expression of Him. The Kingdom of God is the real Jesus multiplied and made manifest in ordinary folks.
Since the cross, the entire population of the earth belongs in God. Separation has been annulled and the atonement is accomplished. This is more than a legal status. It means at-one-ment. The task of the Believer is to show the non-believer that belongingness is already theirs. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. So there should be no condemnation in those who believe. Our gospel is not sin-mongering. It is that Christ is the life and hope of all. Present Jesus and let Him do the transforming.
However - should we not be in Christ Jesus - we will condemn ourselves and we condemn others.
‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death’ Rom 8.1,2 NIV.
Grace surrounds people like a net and draws them into God were they can be loved and transformed. This is the meaning of ‘fishers of men.’ Jesus did not expect that we would not sin again. Or hint that we would be ‘done for’ if we did. He loves us as we are and not as we should be. But it is this love that brings the comfort of God and the transformation that takes place as He rubs off on us. Jesus is not abrupt or demanding. But He is transforming. Yet our acceptance with Him is not based on our life or our degree of improvement. His life is totally our life. (See the Gospel of Chairs).
We are received before we repent. Not because we repent. We are received because we are loved. It is this love that elicits repentance and causes us to say, ‘Thanks Lord. I’ll have your way and your life!”
In the Kingdom Jesus began, all of us belong in His life. He has drawn all into Himself so that we can fellowship with Him and He with us. Christ is the way and the door to this fellowship. Drawn into God people are transformed by Him. If we would promote Jesus as life rather than a religion of moral rants there would be a thousand people come to Jesus where there is now only one. The world is going from bad to worse. But I don’t hear leaders turning to Jesus as the solution. Could it be that what we have advanced and promoted is religion. But not the Kingdom of Belonging?
‘Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV. What is this teaching? That ‘You guys should stop doing all those sins or else!’ No. It is ‘He and she who comes to Me will have life.” Life drives out sin because sin is death.
ONE AS WE ARE ONE
Jesus is not separate from us – or not meant to be. His spirit is meant to be knit into the fabric of our being. His life permeates us individually. The expression of His spirit in us and as us is the church He builds and is building, without human hands. In David’s Day the Presence of God was in the arc in a tent. It was not where it was supposed to be amidst the eternalities and forms of the temple proper or the proper temple. This situation prophesied of today. It foretold a time when trinity dwells in all who believe and makes their home in folks.
We can live in the reality that God has created, the reality of Christ in us and the Spirit of Christ as us. Your individuality, dreams and instincts in Jesus are the expression of the Spirit, and of Father. As the Family of Man we represent the Family of God. They are incarnated in. As such we are sons in spirit and in truth and witness to God in spirit and in truth. One with Him we cannot but express His nature.
When Christ is your life you are another manifestation of Jesus Christ whether in the woodshed, atop Uluru or in eating fish and chips. Christ is in you and manifests as you. This is the church Jesus builds. We are the blocks that make the new society – the living stones that form the new creation. The new creation will never be something that is imposed from above by God. It will grow out of people who are one with His Son.