We can be quite active as church attendees, yet have no real relationship with Jesus. In my middle thirties I came to a stage where I realized I had made a hash of my life. What was to become the most life-transforming realization was that despite my considerable efforts in the church, I realized that I did not know Jesus. What was it I did know then? It was a version of Christianity. Religion is a subtle counterfeit of a relationship with God.
I began to ask Jesus to reveal Himself to me. I resolved to get to know Jesus and follow Him wherever He should lead. As yet I had no knowledge of the Holy Spirit and His ministration of Jesus and the gifts. But in the loneliness of my house I experienced a strong sense of His presence at the kitchen table and on my many walks to find direction and peace.
As a result I did a lot of Bible reading. As beneficial as Bible reading is, Believers need to know that the place where Jesus meets us in not in a Biblical account of things past, in the life of the saints or the great men and women of God who once were. The power of new testament living is today and in you. We have a life with Him in the Spirit in the moment. Our new testament comfort is Christ in us.
‘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.
The summit of life to the full is not found in Bible study. Nor is it in praise and worship or anything religious. The excellence of living life to the full is Christ in you.
Today the fullness of God is with us and in us through the ministry of Holy Spirit and the fact that God has incarnated Himself in all who receive Jesus. Today we are inhabited by God and in fellowship with God. This is our state of being and the reality that the religious need to embrace and live. Religion is basically the attempt to create ‘the presence’ that already exists and the striving for the union with God that is already ours. The cause weakness in the church comes from the fact that greater are those who are in religion than those for whom Christ is life. Involvement in religion is not His life. He is His life. He is I AM because He is distinctly personal, separate from His creation and from that what we call ‘doing His stuff.’ The kingdom of hope and recovery that is ours is a person. Not a religion. Those who live in religion are subtly deceived. Yet there is life for them as close as the prayer, ‘I want to see Jesus.’
T. S. Eliot wrote of the impotence of modern life, much of which has a direct application to a life in religion instead of a life that is Christ our life.
We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless As wind in dry grass Or rats' feet over broken glass In our dry cellar Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralyzed force, gesture without motion..
It is a great curiosity and a travesty when great numbers of Believers are absorbed in Christianity, yet have no genuine relationship with Jesus. This produces the ‘hollow men’ that T.S Eliot writes of above. Hollow men and women make a hollow church of clouds without rain.
For several years following my life-changing trauma I found comfort and rejoiced in a song I had learned at a Christian camp for separated and a divorced people: ‘Open My Eyes Lord. I Want to See Jesus.’ Jesus both opens our eyes and reveals Himself and His new and living way to us in ways exactly suited to our individuality. He is God and as the Son of Man is our eyes for ‘seeing God.’
We can, as I did, go through our lives in a fog of religion in which Jesus is seldom seen except through the mist of our self-centered and denominationally created veils. The Bible says, ‘Only in Christ are the veils removed.’ This ‘fog’ can take the form of our immersion in sincere effort on behalf of God and considerable busyness for the cause - a cause which on deeper inspection can be more about the maintenance of our belief system, and the security we have made for ourselves, than a relationship with Jesus.
I though this quote had come from Martin Luther. I was wrong. But it did come from his namesake, one who stood for truth though it cost him everything, Martin Luther King. He wrote, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Many Believers may not be stupid. But too many are sincerely ignorant - particularly of their inheritance of new covenant life known as the vicarious humanity of Jesus. Here’s the thing. We must give Jesus absolute leave to lead us out of wrong assumptions into all truth. Don’t expect to see and know Jesus well if you live to maintain your own ideas and assumptions. We cannot expect to know God as He is or experience ourselves in the fullness of sons if we limit ourselves to the suppositions of our up-bringing or denomination. To do this is to stunt ourselves and suffocate our spiritual discernment and exposure to the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
‘In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples’ Luke 14.33 NIV.
‘As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him’ Matt 9.9 NIV.
Repentance means laying all of ourselves at the cross and living in complete openness to what Jesus reveals. Growth and maturity into the Spirit of Sonship comes from living in Christ and following Him unconditionally everywhere He leads. This means dying to all that is ours and all that is of Adam and rising with Jesus to live in the wisdom and revelation of a newly created life - a life that is all spirit and no law and religion. Paul stated that the letter kills. He might as well have written that religion kills. Anything that is not Christ reduces God and dumbs down our humanity robbing us of spirit and life.
‘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.
To follow Jesus unconditionally is to open ourselves to infinite understanding and sensitivity to the centrality of Jesus, the absolute trustworthiness of our Father and our security in God. But to follow Jesus with restrictions; to follow Him only to the boundaries of our learned assumptions is to imprison ourselves in religion. It is to furnish ourselves with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. It denies the Spirit of Sonship and leaves us with such dull discernment that we think we are releasing life when we are perpetrating death in all we do.
Don’t expect to be enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation if your life is committed, no matter what, to the maintenance of your learned assumptions and beliefs. This is a death sentence to your growth as son/daughter of God. All apostolic people are rooted in their Father - never in the law.
In these posts you find few quotes from non-apostolic writers or theologians. One cannot be apostolic and live from the law and the old covenant. Such Believers do not speak in the spirit of wisdom and revelation and neither can they. We cannot live in the law that separates us from union with God and experience the continuing revelation of God for the moment and the season. Not even the gifts of the Spirit will ameliorate this. Many Believers living in this mode can ‘give a good sermon’ but cannot speak in the spirit of wisdom and revelation - because they have not entered the Spirit of Sonship, even though it is their inheritance. New creation life, the life hat is Sonship in spirit and in truth is ours when we are willing to deny our veils of old covenant and law and embrace the gospel of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. There is hope. Since by man came death. By the Son of Man comes the resurrection of the dead.