Not a few church-goers have no relationship with Jesus at all. What they have is a relationship with the culture of church. I know this because I was one of them. Then again many Christian are followers of Jesus in the culture in which they were born. To be so is sufficient because they are aware that He is more than enough. They are followers of the Son of Man and He is their Lord. There is a life and freshness about this simplicity. I noticed it when I visited such a church once in Hobart many years ago. A year or so later I noticed this freshness even more in a church near my home. I had moved to work in Melbourne and there was a notably alive gathering of Believers five minutes’ walk from my house. When the pastor spoke it was about Jesus and in Jesus. This was not oratory. It was the freshness of life that is called 'living water.'
'Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life' 1 John 5.12 NIV.
This is not to say Christians as a whole have nothing to learn. We live in a time of favour when Jesus is bringing out things new and old. Things that have been hidden in the scriptures are being exposed. Privileges in Christ that have seldom been understood are being revealed. The deceit and robbery effected by the Enemy is being undone and thousands are learning to live as sons in the Son of God. The Spirit of Sonship is being revealed and expanding among the people. The new covenant is being studied and understood and the people of God are rejoicing as the slander of the Enemy about the Father is being stripped away.
God is not Demands. He is love. In Jesus we and the Father are one. He is the source of our comfort and the salve of our desperate need to be loved - despite our sin and our failure we always belong. We are always at home in his arms surrounded by His massive heart of love. Despite what we are, we are deeply loved. This is our greatest need and the source of our transformation. People are learning to abandon their focus, their performance obsession and revel in God's love for them as a person. Thus Believers become sons not just notionally but in spirit and in truth.
BODY OF DEATH CULTURE
I was raised in a culture that was not only legalistic. The plan of salvation was misconstrued as law centered. The ground of our being was viewed as the law. It was taught that Jesus as a young man lived from the law, that He came to enable us to keep the law and that righteousness is defined by the law. Of course it is not. Righteousness is Christ. He lived out of His Father as a son. It is Jesus, not the commandments, the Bible or even Christian values that are our life. Life in the Spirit is Jesus as you: period.
This 'law culture' of which I speak, portrayed a picture of Father that was more like Aristotle's Unmoved Mover than the Father who is revealed in the person of Jesus. But here's the death rattle that is the law. Even when law grounded people receive the Holy Spirit to become Spirit-filled, the dove on the head does not overcome the problem of the feet, clamped in the crocodile jaws of the law. In order to receive the Holy Spirit in fullness one must receive the gospel of the Kingdom in completeness – which means that in this gospel we are hidden completely in union with God, here to live openly as the sons of God in spirit and in truth.
ROOTED IN GOD
Our foundation is Christ who Himself is our life. Jesus said, 'Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood there is no life in you.' It's true. Jesus spoke nothing of ‘a law plus Jesus hamburger.’ Neither did John or Paul. Christ is all and in all. Christ alone is our life and He is more than sufficient. He is everything. He is everything in regard to the fact that we are completely graced. In Him we completely belong in the family of God and in Jesus we are completely sons of God because He, by the Spirit is completely our life. In the age of the Spirit you are the manifestation of Jesus. All of us together as the Church are the manifestation of the fullness of Christ.
'In this new life, it doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us' Col 3.11 NIV.
God hates death. He loathes death and deadness in all its forms. God loves life more than form and tradition - and more than order. There is no life-giving order in anything that is not Jesus Christ. God Himself is love and Jesus is the expression of the Father. You in your uniqueness are the expression of Jesus. We can have an intellectualized, theological life that consists of an attachment to a belief system, some behaviors and occasional insights. But there is a life that surpasses this where the spirit of sonship is more than a notion and a theology. It is Christ in you. Sure there are drops of water in this theologized mode. But it’s rivers of living water than issue from us when Christ Himself is our life. John wrote of this life in the words below. It does not describe Christian super-heroes. This is the inheritance of every Believer.
‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14,20
'Spirit and truth' is but another expression of His life in us. Salvation comes from the mind and heart of the Father and the Son - from their person. Not from our cherished ideas or ingrained assumptions. We have no right to death promoting perspectives simply because they are our heritage and our religious tradition. Don't merchandize death in the name of God. Don’t be double-minded and promote your distorted gospel as if it is His.
There's no pluralism allowed in respect to the Source of our life. There is one way and only that way is alive. He who has the Son has life. He who has an abridged version of the Son does not have life. He might have arms and legs and a hole in the heart or no real heart at all. Don't accept a travesty of the gospel as though it is the gospel. As an insightful author wrote recently, 'As long as we live in apathetic certainty we stagnate.' There are people like this who have no spiritual eyes or ears. They have atrophied from their addiction to their private gospel. We cannot grow the Kingdom of the Spirit in an old covenant saucer of water and cotton wool. It's not going to happen. TESTIMONY OF JESUS
God's command is to believe and live in His Son. Jesus testimony is I AM YOUR LIFE. Jesus announced Himself as light and life. His life as ours is both love, grace and transformation. The new covenant is hinted at and restated in different ways in the New Testament. It never appears as a program or set of propositions. Even in Paul. This is because it is a Person and not a method. It is new because it is the new and living way of the Son of Man in the sons and daughters of men. It is not an 'it' but our life by the Spirit of Christ. It is Jesus as our life.
'Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory' Col 3.1-4 NIV.