Life and vision promotes life and vision. In a personal Jesus we have this in spades. ‘He who has the Son has life.’ And again ‘In Him is life that life is the life of all.’ John Powell, who knew this, wrote a book entitled ‘Fully Human, full alive.’ Another book in the fullness of life tradition is Raising the Dead about a heart that is fully alive.
Those who find security in conformity will often take offence at child-like playfulness and irreverent fun. Admonitions to ‘grow up’ can come from mature people already dead in spirit or from younger folks with an already shrunken sense of being. Sadly some of these people can become pastors or leaders whose breath withers spirit and life from those who would have had promise if not for their influence. There are few people of real uniqueness and individually about, few who are truly who they are because so many humans live as mendicants attempting to suck life from that which is not human.
If you are attempting to draw life from Christianity you are an example of what I mean. So are we all when we are simply a living construct of the church. But not if Christ is our life. Not when we are the expression of the being of the Son of Man. Don’t expect to be spirit and life to anyone if all you are is a construct of religion and the church. But if you and Father are one, expect to be the manifestation of His Son!
I purchased a new smartphone recently. One of the pleasures it affords it the ability to take excellent photos and store them in the cloud where they can quickly be accessed to go in your Day One diary or be shared with others on Facebook. While FB can be a trivial pursuit it can also be used to declare the gospel of the Kingdom. Social Media allows the many to evade evasion the ploys of Gate-Keepers whose vested interest is the status quo, conformity and control. Then again it can support mind-numbing conformity and intelligence sapping homogeneity - like the notion that opposition to homosexuality is a phobia and a kind of irrational mental illness. This attitude itself is phobic and anti-rational. Nevertheless it succeeds in bullying many into taking a back-seat and remaining silent in the face of an enlarging social perversion.
‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind’ John 1.4 NIV.
I have offered before that I believe there is much opportunity to be had in the mind of Christ - but little from the mind of the conservative. Unless one can separate one’s thinking from the status quo we are unable to view situations with sufficient distance and perspective to offer a penetrating critique of the way things are. Acquiescence to ‘what is’ belongs to the horse and the ox but not to human beings. Sadly ‘the way things are’ can vary from best practice to ingrained ineffectiveness and stupidity. It’s useful to note that those who were chosen as the first deacons in the new testament church were people of wisdom and the Holy Spirit. They were not flaky folks who spoke in tongues. They were people of sound mind and sharp intellect who moved in the wisdom and revelation of the indwelling Christ. In Christ we gain the ability to retain that which is of value and abandon that which is manifest folly.
Jesus is God declaring Himself and His life to all. To posit the law as the declaration of God is to shrink God and shrivel ourselves. We are not competent to minister the kingdom when what we purvey kills the human spirit and dulls the soul. In the age of the Spirit you live in the Spirit of Sonship as a son inhabited and surrounded by the Spirit of God. To say that law is the essence of God is dumb God down and put our humanity to death. Thus in crucifying the son of God anew we crucify ourselves. No! God’s ‘yes’ is that Christ lives in you and you have become the expression of Jesus.
The Enemy is pleased if he can engage us in some venture, a witness or mission outreach that is good in itself. But is actually a diversion from our greatest need: Christ manifest as us in new covenant power. If he can keep us tied to the law with its muted sonship and small authority he has diverted us from the core of the new testament age - God incarnated in His sons. The parlous state of the world occurs not because of the multiplication of sin. But because Christ is not lived as our life in His new covenant fullness. ‘Having the Holy Spirit’ is not sufficient to undo the crippled state of being that results from a rootedness in law and religion.
Anything not Jesus dulls and deforms. If you are a leader in the Body you are duty bound to lead people into this fullness, to discard error and false doctrine and cast off every encrustation that is not Christ; to eradicate every hindrance which dulls Christ and cripples those He lives for.
You don’t have to be a politician who excels in finding a way of not confronting, habit, tradition and ‘our perspective’ that is institutionalized death. You don’t have to find a ploy of working your way around the issue so that this deadening of spirit; this stultifying adherence to law and old covenant remains in place. You don’t have to be the religious politician living from the political spirit making yourself responsible for embedding and institutionalizing death as a way of life. You don’t have to perpetuate this body of death. You can be spirit and life.
‘Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ Rom 7.24 ESV.
Each and every one of us has the capacity and potential to be who we were created to be in our full uniqueness if we are prepared to be ourselves in Christ, to receive Christ as our life and live from His person instead of the assumptions of the herd. There is no replacement in your life for a personal Jesus because there is really no replacement in the world of action for a genuinely authentic you.
On my walk last Saturday I took out my phone and snapped a scene that had caught my eye the day before. I posted it on Facebook with these words: ‘This front garden rejoiced as itself as I went by on my morning walk.’ I was pleased that quite a number ‘liked’ the photo and the post. But I wondered how many realized what a parable of Kingdom life this was. This garden, in all its colour and glory was simply being itself, without effort or strain. It simply rejoiced to the world as itself, rejoiced in being itself and in being what it was and in doing so gave joy to all who saw and pondered the glory of God.
You too have a glory that comes not from what you wear of what you possess but from who you are. Adam led us all in a false and debilitating attempt ‘to be’ what we already were: Like God.
He made us sons of a lie because we had entered the illusions of the Father of lies. But we have one Father who is God. In this Father we are truly sons and daughters. In Him we are nurtured in the spirit of Sonship to be our real selves instead of flitting about as shadows of our real identity. The reality is Christ and in Him we are real.
Jesus ended Adam. He put Adam’s lies, Adam’s culture and Adam’s degradation to death at the cross. In exchange He gave us Himself. This was God giving us Himself, giving back the Fatherhood we had lost at the fall through our immaturity and the trickery of Satan. This had been the plan from before the foundation of the earth. The plan was for Christ to be our life, for Christ the third person of the trinity to be a human being and for Christ to dwell by the Spirit in each of us to imbue us with His qualities and the life of the trinity.
Thus in a manner of speaking, we are like the garden in the picture. Liberated from religion and from the many artifices of the world; set free from law, legalism and pedantic rites, liberated from observances, we have become the expression of Christ. He lives in us and expresses Sonship through us each in the fullness of our unique identity and joy of being. In Christ we are both graced and imbued with God and our true selves. We are at rest in Christ. We have a perpetual Sabbath and Resurrection in Him. We are continually refreshed and regenerated by His person and we are in God. We are in the Father where we are authenticated and nurtured as the sons we are. The result is that we give glory to God by rejoicing as ourselves and in so doing, we live as the new creation and bear the fruit of being alive in spirit and in life.
If we are living in cultural Christianity, in an institutional routine or from the law we may have droplets of life or no life at all. Religion and cultural Christianity is a lie not a life. Legalism and a religious routine is not us having the Son. It is us having ourselves. But the Son lives in you and is with you. Agree with this, step into this, rest in this and step forward in this and you will be life itself.
‘Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life’ 1 John 5.12 NIV.