We were sitting under a large tree sipping a cool drink My friend observed that we can belong to a denomination or a church and busy ourselves with tasks pertaining thereto, all under the impression that we are working for God – which reminds me of a statement a conference speaker uttered in a hushed hall once. He said, ‘You can spend 15 years in the mission field but God did not send you there.’
Having studied the sociology of religion, I’m aware that there are many definitions and formulations of what religion is. A definition I use here is simply this: Religion is the attempt to fill the space left by the absence of God with something of ourselves. This can be seen as much in the most elaborate of religions as well in a local church where people attempt programs without the infilling and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Such religion can be elaborate and empty or meticulously planned and ugly.
The Presence of God is Jesus in us and among us by the Holy Spirit. He is the fullness of life and light because He is life itself. When Jesus is present life-sustaining resurrection power is present to enlighten and ignite our being with the infinite well-being of God. People saw this recently at the Christmas Carols at the Meyer Music Bowl. Silvie Paladino sang with passion and anointing. Christians who saw this began to weep and the crowd responded to they knew not what – but it was the Presence of the Living Christ.
Just as the Father was revealed to the world in the face of Jesus, so the Believer is the face of Jesus when we live a Jesus life. The difference between those whose life is Jesus rather than about Jesus is striking. In spiritual terms it is the difference between a mummy and a living person. In Biblical terms it is the difference between the body of death and the one new man.
‘What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ Rom 7.24,25 NIV.
When you have been in the Presence of God you will never be satisfied with anything less. It is life-giving. The presence of Jesus comes among those whose hearts desire Him. There is no formula. But there is more of Him when we obey His instruction to be filled with the Person of the Holy Spirit rather than merely attach ourselves to a doctrine of Him. The Spirit of Christ not only brings with Him the power witnessed in the book of Acts. He multiplies Jesus in people to sustain the life of heaven on earth. When filled with the Presence of Jesus, people near us will say, ‘We felt alive!’
‘He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups’ Eph 2.6 NLT.
Jesus is drawing believers into Himself because He needs to be seen to be alive in the church before He can be seen as the life of the world. There is no dualism in the church Jesus builds. He is the church which is what we mean when we say that we are the Body of Christ. But more often we are so infatuated with the church to which Jesus is a footnote that the church is a dead body on which religious professionals jump up and down to restore its life.
‘Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ John 6.53 NIV.
There is much ‘Lord talk’ that does not come from God. Beware of prophecies that multiply words but say little of Jesus. Don’t be taken in by prophecy that is full of figures of speech but actually says nothing. Scorn prophecy that is so vague that it is nothing more than the kings new clothes. Prophecy is accurate when it come from Jesus – not because it is legitimized by a prophetic round table. Pyramids and hierarchies and ‘government’ of this nature represent the flesh, Egypt and the kingdoms of this world – but not the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. His is a kingdom of the heart, with certainty and with authority.
The church Jesus builds is built without human hands. His church is manifest in those for whom He is their life – in those who eat Jesus rather than a diet of ‘Jesus stuff.’ There is a vast structure called ‘the church’ that has little relationship to a Jesus life. Jesus is not dependent on it and can do without it entirely. One thousand intercessors will not revive a body of death. Jesus will not tolerate a dead horse between Himself and His people.
Don’t perpetuate iniquity in the name of revival. Jesus always put Himself forward as life itself. He declared that those who would not eat His flesh and drink His blood would have no life in them. Jesus builds His church on the proclamation that ‘He is the Christ, the Savior of the World.’ Jesus is His own mediator. Christ in His people is His church in the world. Jesus manifest as His People is the Kingdom of God.
‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him’ John 6.56 NIV.