CHRIST IS THE HEART OF ALL LIFE
I was sitting in what might be called ‘a successful church.’ We had a nice building, a good band and comfortable chairs. There were about 600 people there. The church bulletin was a fat document bulging with church activities and ministries. As I perused it I noticed that most of what was listed there could be just as well carried out if there was no church like the one we were in. All of it could done from a house and probably without all the overheads and paraphernalia.
Maybe this was a parable. Our treasure in our jar of clay (us) is Christ in our being. This is the direct presence of Jesus, the Spirit and Father in us where we are and continuously. Christ mediates us into the Communion that is God and God into us. The sacrament is you in union with Christ. This reality reminds us to seek life in Christ Himself and not look for it in the container.
Today I found the following in Facebook, written by a ‘successful pastor.’ He writes, "I got frustrated … According to the Bible, every single one of these people has a supernatural gift that's meant to be used for the body. And I'm like - 5,000 people show up every week to hear my gift, see my gift - that's a lot of waste.
Then I started thinking how much does it cost to run this thing? Millions of dollars!" He observed that many pastors of such churches had resigned and were helping people set up house churches. ‘Good luck with that,’ I thought. It remains to be seen if pastors acculturated into institutionalism are free enough to allow Jesus to be Himself without their templates being imposed among His people. In any case there are pastors among the people who are gifted as pastors entirely without reference to the institutionalised role of ‘pastor.’
I know people who have a thing about church planting. Kingdom Leaders plant Jesus in pastors for whom Jesus is life. You will know such people if He is your life. Probably not if you are part of the Christian Industry. One kind multiplies spirit and life. The other kind just multiplies structures and hierarchies.
Not a few religious leaders appear to think that you can expand the kingdom by planting institutions. Good luck with that one too. The church Jesus plants and builds is simply the multiplication of Himself in people. It’s always alive. Lives are healed and the gifts with signs following are seen in the manner of Jesus and the apostles. I was at a house church in India some time back where two women testified that their doctors had declared them free of cancer after they had prayed for Jesus to heal them.
APOSTLESHIP BEGINS WITH A PERSONAL UNION WITH JESUS
Genuine apostleship has nothing to do with institutionalism and the perpetuation of religious boxes. It is entirely a function of union with Father and authority given by Him to genuine sons of God. In the church Jesus builds each person is a tree of life rooted in Father and producing fruit that is alive with His infinite life.
FATHERHOOD AND SONSHIP
Since Christ is our life, each person has an array of gifts that are a function of our union with Father. Our gifts are an expression of ourselves and our sonship. Our unique personhood is an expression of Jesus. The spiritual gifts that we possess are a function of our unique personality and our unique relationship with God. Each of us are one with our Father. Living in our union with Father we are distinct sons, yet part of the body of Christ that makes up the fullness of Christ.
The fullness of Christ multiplied comes from the fullness of Christ and all He has done in us. Never from our living in a fraction of Christ or a portion of a non-descript covenant.
We are full in Christ when we live in all that He has provided, which is to say, our roots go down deep into the soil of the trinity so that we are trees of life producing the fruits we were meant to bless others with from before the foundation of the world.
Both the fruits and the gifts are a function of you and our union with Father. The fruits surfacing as your distinct character in Jesus and the gifts according to your personality and the distinct nature of your sonship.
GIFTS AND FULLNESS
Spiritual gifts are not a thing in themselves. They flow from the integration of you with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They bubble up extravagantly when we are living in our new covenant union with God. They are sporadic and unreliable when we live in old covenant separation and incompleteness.
FULLNESS IS AN OVERFLOWING GLASS
‘Fullness’ is ours in new covenant union with God. ‘Fullness’ in Christ begins with living in the fullness of our inheritance – in the completeness of all that Father and Spirit gained for us in Jesus.
Fullness is not everyone operating in the gifts. Fullness is all of us living in all of Christ in the spirit of sonship. The diversity of gifts are a function of this. This overflow comes not from fastidious attention to detail or from ‘activation’ but from the simple reception of Christ’s life as our life. This is to say fullness comes not from Christianity but from Christ.
In Jesus ‘lived the fullness of the God-head bodily.’ This is true of every Believer who believes. Each believer is the home of the trinity – not because we have done something to earn it but because Jesus has earned the right to make us one with God. ‘The Plan’ that Paul names as ‘Christ in you,’ is the incarnated trinity in all who believe. There’s no institutionalism here. This kind of church is simply the powerful the manifestation of Christ in people at any time at any place and in any circumstance.
For many Christians a life in God is church attendance and adherence to some form of morality. This is bare-bones Christianity and possibly not a relationship with Jesus at all.
VALLEY OF DEAD BONES
Bereft of Christ their life people can live as consumers from the structures and patterns of institutionalism, knowing little of Christ, experiencing scant healing of their soul and little intimacy with Jesus. This is the shipwreck churchianity has made of the Kingdom.
Christians were not meant to sit in churches in paralysis and dormancy of gifting while a leader acts out his gifting from the pulpit. Each of us is a fountain of living water according to our nature and gifting. God’s gift to the world is the manifestation of Himself in you. Your glory is the joy of being yourself in Father! The fruitfulness and power of the church Jesus builds is the manifestation of Himself in all.