THE FULLNESS OF JESUS
Once again I have things to say about the New Covenant - the new and living way of Christ our life. Yesterday I read what a pastor had written about many of us. He said, ‘A lot of us talk about freedom from the law. But we walk the old covenant and the proxy law of our Christian performance orientation.’ We need to live new covenant because it is the power of God in us and the defeat of every life-denying work of the Enemy. It is Christ as you and the church. The scripture below distinguishes between the spirit of religion and the Kingdom of God.
‘This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God’ 1 John 4.2 NIV.
I belong to a house church. There is nothing cutting edge about it. We do not live to ‘the eight criteria of what a house church should be.’ Because we don’t live from the law or its proxies. Our numbers vary from four to seven. Sometimes we follow an ‘order’ similar to the common church program. But we are trying to move away from any template and allow Jesus in and among us to express Himself through us. He is the program and template in His person and heart for the occasion. The presence of Jesus is always stronger and more out there when we are spontaneously talking of our lives with Him than when we embark on something more formal. This is the incarnational reality of Jesus. The glory of Jesus is seen in the glory of who we really are in Him day by day.
‘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 NIV.
We pray a lot for each other and our families. And give prayer covering when members of our group go on a mission trip or go to hospital. We do not feel obliged to adopt a formal church outreach or mission. Rather, since Christ is our life, our mission flows from our vocation whether we are in so called secular employ or in Christian ministry. We take seriously the actuality of Christ come in our flesh and that we are the bearers and multipliers of His presence and healing power. The essence of our bonding and the expression of Jesus to each other and world is ‘Christ in you.’ We get along well, love each other and enjoy a comforting sense of community.
However I do need to say that a house church will not immediately bring comfort and joy if Believers are oblivious of their new covenant Sonship and their life in Holy Spirit. Christ come in our flesh is the foundation of new covenant living. A life in the indwelling Holy Spirit is the foundation of the church Jesus builds and through which He expresses Himself in Believers. A personal Jesus is ours in the Spirit. Ours for intimacy with Him and ours to function in His discernment and authority over the Enemy and his ploys. A personal Jesus is necessary for us to love ourselves and offer unconditional love to those to whom we relate. A real and present Jesus is ours in the anointing of Holy Spirit to act on earth with the authority of heaven. Church is a function of this - the dough that is leavened by the yeast of a genuinely indwelling and genuinely out-going Christ.
We do not have new covenant benefits if we are living old covenant lives - by which I mean living out of law, performance and judgment. Basically to live old covenant is to live from religion. We are headed for disappointment if we think we are able to regenerate our lives by coming up with some new form of church. The Church of the Firstborn from the dead is Jesus writ large in His people.
We need to actively embrace the new covenant as new creation people. In this state of being Christ is in us, with us and our life in every way. There is no dualism here, no compartmentalization and no dichotomies. You and the church are the one new man in Christ. The closer proximity to others entailed by informal churches brings with it relationship challenges that do not exists in larger settings where people can pass each other like ships in the night. But this is the advantage as well as the challenge of ‘where two or three are gathered’ living. We are challenged to embrace more of Christ as our deficiencies are exposed. In regard to this James remarks, ‘Consider it all joy!’
‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds’ James 1.2 NIV.
The basis of our life together is the at-one-ment achieved by Jesus at the behest of heaven. It’s not performance, an avenue for self-expression or the demonstration of spiritual gifts. I have been on mission trips where some talked the Spirit and walked the flesh to such a degree that what they did verged on wickedness and abuse. The situation was ‘saved’ to some extent by the work of intercessors at home who were prompted to pray into the situation far away. The root of our life is our Father and the expression of our life is Sonship.
The gifts of the Spirit are not something we add to religion or an old covenant mentality. They flow out of the Fatherhood of Father, the vicarious ministry of Jesus and the infilling of Holy Spirit. There is no fragmentation in the new covenant. He has made the two one. We need to step into the union with God that is ours as individuals and as the church. In Christ we are whole.
Those who have been formed from an institution are less favoured than those whose spiritual formation has happened because they are hidden and built up in Christ. Rooted in Jesus we will never be a weed or a tare. His church is simply Jesus expressed in His people. Unfortunately many of the institutionalized are not the church Jesus has built. They are the church man has built in Jesus’ name - something like Martha who wanted to make sandwiches Jesus had not asked for.
‘Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness’ Col 2.7 NIV.
The obsession with new forms of church is largely a furphy. The church rooted in Jesus and the habitation of sons will take on the form that is the expression of Jesus in the people who are gathered. The Kingdom grows out of Jesus. Not from an abstraction called the church.
People can talk of ‘leaving the institutional church’ and set about installing an institution in the form of a house or café church. Jesus did not prescribe what the church was to be - other than declare that He would build His church without human hands. Remove the ‘human hands’ from many churches, including new expressions of church and their might be little remaining of the church Jesus builds. We need to examine ourselves and see what Jesus shows us here. As Dr Stephen Crosby observes ‘church is not about venues.’ But it is about Christ as our collective life. But without an understanding of new covenant living we will be unable to be the church Jesus builds. Any setting has potential for Christ to be alive in and among us. He is not dependent on hierarchies but He is always made manifest in expertise and wisdom rather than ignorance and hubris. The church is about the Christ in us and Jesus expressing Himself through us. It is about us as sons of God