Jesus appeared in a vision to a young woman on the way to work. ‘Where did you come from Lord,’ she asked in surprise? ‘Out of your hand-bag where you had put me,’ Jesus laughed. ‘That’s not where I live. But it describes my relationship with you – an accessory to your life.’ She looked taken aback, yet relieved. ‘So you ..’ she began. ‘Jill!’ Jesus interrupted abruptly. People can have me in their brief case or in a Bible on their coffee table, or in their yearly missionary trip to Thailand – and have religion. But I’m wanting to be your life!
Jesus is either our life or we and our stuff is our life.
There’s an empathy that can exist between friends that comes from unity of heart and soul. This is more than common interests and much more than holding shared beliefs. There are lesser forms of unity. Friendship based on ‘thinking alike’ may last for some years. But eventually this ruptures because no one was created or redeemed to think the same, or be identical to anyone else. And all have been redeemed to have Jesus as the core of their being. Thus the greatest unity comes from the bond of the Spirit. This is not unity in charismatic gifts. It is not religious and it is not church. It is Jesus in you. Jesus in people. This is the unity that comes when we are in the embrace of the Spirit of Jesus. In him we are one as the heavenly persons are one. This is His church.
The most fulfilling knitting together of persons exists between those for whom Jesus the Person Himself is their life. People of widely different dispositions will find comfort and grace together when the life that binds them is Jesus and not something extraneous to His person like the acquisition of an identity from membership in a denomination, an obsession with church or getting church right.
When Jesus is our life we are joined together as an extension of His person. We are the expression of Him personally and as groups of Believers. This is the actual Body of Christ as opposed to the common religious construct that would define His body as the abstract concept of the church and the churches. All who are the extension of Jesus are his church. Not all who are the church are of Jesus.
As Jesus was one with his Father so the church Jesus builds is the expression of His person. The glory of Jesus was that He was the Son of His Father. This too is our glory when we are in Jesus as Jesus was in his Father. Thus Jesus says, ‘I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one.’ He is talking of the unity that distinguishes his church – a unity that is Jesus from first to last. This glory is belonging to the family of God; of being joined to Father, Son and Holy Spirit through Jesus. This communion is so intertwined that He describes it as ‘I am in them and you are in me.’
This inter-personal union is not the kind of union that occurs because church people decide to get together in an ecumenical churchiness. It is clear that the union Jesus speaks of occurs in communion with himself and the family of heaven – not in the abstraction of the church. When He is our life our union with him produces union with each other.
‘I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. ”I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me’ Matt 17.21–23.
Unity on the basis of ‘church’ will always prove elusive. Unity on the foundation of Jesus as our life is more than enough. Lets be clear. We can repeat the words ‘organic church’ till our voice gets hoarse and our tongue cramps. But nothing living will grow from a construct. However all who eat His flesh and drink His blood will be the community of the saints. Jesus is indeed our life or we are nothing.
This is why churches getting together to produce community needs to be seen as the nonsense it is. Churches bunching together don’t produce the community of heaven. How can they when led by people anxious to preserve their sphere of influence, their ministry or their identity as people gathered around such and such beliefs. This does not imply that truth is not important. It implies that the truth that Jesus is our life is the foundation and substance of the church Jesus builds.
The church Jesus builds exists in the reality of the day of the Lord. This day comes when Believers decide to make Jesus rather than themselves their life. ‘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. This is the church Jesus builds.
Jesus builds His church without human hands. Flesh will never represent the Kingdom of God. ‘Letter’ based assumptions extinguish the life of God. The community of Jesus cannot come from the joining together of abstract entities. Such stones will never become bread. Beside the living stones that are Christ expressed as His people these dead stones will always be inert. Christ as his people is the genuine expression of his Body. We as his branches are the genuine extension of his Vine. Believers as his fruit are the supernatural outgrowth of our position in the tree of life. Apart from him we are nothing. But the Jesus seed cast into the soil will grow and fill the entire earth.
‘Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God’ Rev 2.7 NIV.