JESUS IS TO LIFE
Today on New Year’s Day is a good time to begin life without limit. Life was never meant to have limits. In heaven’s terms a limited life is a contradiction. God is life Himself and the order of the universe. The mystery of life is that what we know as existence can be ‘reduced’ or more correctly, 'expanded' to a person – the person of God. In Him our life is infinite. As sons we have life without limit. The life of Jesus, rendered as ‘life to the full’ in the New International Version is a better translation than ‘Abundance’ or ‘a rich and satisfying life.’ These do not do justice to the infinite life that flows to us through Jesus.
'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full' John 10.10 NIV.
Jesus as the Son of Man had ‘the Spirit without limit’ because He lived out of His Father. It was His life in His Father that furnished Him with the completeness that had nothing to do with the law or Jewish culture. Jesus could not have won us life to the full had he lived from anything less than the Father and less than Himself. He won our sonship by living in God!
To live in anything that is not Jesus is to handicap ourselves and rob ourselves of the life and authority that is without limit. This is so no matter how beneficial a program or observance may be. Limitation is a form of death and one of the fruits of the law and the tree of knowledge. Living in limitation may be described as living in one of the many varieties of un-life. Living from worldly idols and the pride of life will deplete our authority as will living from religion. This is the most subtle form of un-life and masquerades as godliness. We live in limitation when we choose to live in anything that is not Jesus. But when Jesus is our life, His life is ours. In Him we are in the Father and we have the Spirit without limit.
FEAR AND SELF
In the secular sphere ‘striking political gold’ is code for an appeal that goes to the core of the voters ‘fear and self-centeredness.’ It’s possible to form large churches on a similar basis; to pull people together with an appeal to fear, self-interest, self-effort and often the illusion of superior morals.
‘The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector’ Luke 18.11 NIV.
Religion multiplies the political spirit like nothing else. Emile Durkheim opined that ‘religion is society and society is religion.’ In other words, people are worshiping themselves. This kind of ‘social cohesion’ can produce a Trump administration or can be revealed in the outpouring of generosity and self sacrifice that we see in Australia in time of flood or bushfire. Of itself this is not God or godliness. It’s often done by atheists and agnostics who are operating in human kindness. No one can deny that this is good. But it’s not the Kingdom of God unless one is joined to God and releasing His spirit and life.
The social gospel is not the gospel of the Kingdom. Such a ‘gospel’ could be advanced even if there was no God. The gospel of the Kingdom is a flow of the spirit-life of God. It is life itself and it is ‘personal’ as in a Personal God. Not only does it convey His spirit-life in streams of living water. It can achieve things that can only occur at the hand of God. Like the healing of the sick.
The Kingdom of God is never about ‘issues.’ It’s about the healing of issues and the resurrection of dead hopes. There is only One Healer. One who can produce pure love and genuine self-sacrifice. This is the One who prayed that His sacrifice would make us One with God in John 17.
In New Year’s Day it might be timely to depart the life of religion and enter the life of Jesus. Jesus began a new and living way based on offering Himself as a life for us in His person. This has always been our life in the Spirit, our life in His Spirit, His Spirit as our life. This is the meaning of the Lord’s supper. Eating Christ and Christ being our life. Eating His spiritual body has implications for ourselves as His church. Observe the difference between life in the Spirit and in the flesh.
IN HIM IS LIFE
Jesus is to resurrection what Spirit is to life. In the Spirit, Christ is the church manifest as people. In the flesh christ is defined as the (institutional) church. In the Spirit Christ’s life as His people is the church (His body). The institutional church is the reduction of Christ to abstractions and burocratic structures. This kind of church is the manifestation of the letter - the letter that kills. But the church built without human hands is the manifestation of Jesus as His people. Law and letter are what shackles are to convicts. Letter is to life what illness is to health. But Jesus is to everything what resurrection is to death.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
Spirit and life flowing through us originates with God. Living from our union with God, the spirit and life of the trinity flows through us in rivers of living water. With Christ as our life all we do is alive. When we do things to pay back Jesus or achieve acceptance with God - our works are dead and lack in spirit and life. In the old covenant mentality we ‘do’ in order to ‘live.’ In the new covenant mindset we ‘alive,’ therefore we ‘do.’ Life in the flesh retards the Kingdom. Life in the Spirit advances it and makes ripples that continue into eternity.
To attempt to live from our behaviors and good deeds is like expecting a young tomato plant to grow after we have removed it from its pot and hung it in the air. Living as such we are joined to ourselves and not to God. We will wither, our activities will not build the Kingdom and we will stifle ourselves and those unfortunate enough to be inveigled into our schemes. You have union with God. Live from it!
HE’S NOT IN A BOX
God has always been more present with non-conformists, the oddities and outrageous than He has been with the scribes, the orderly and the custodians of belief systems. This is because Godliness is Jesus Himself and not a form of godliness without power. Individually and as the church we can receive God’s life without limit today. It is ours if we are willing to lay down our stuff and receive Him as our life. The life of God cannot be described in words. It simply is. It was manifest in Jesus. Today He can manifest as you.
'To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory' Col 1.27.