There was a time when I visualized the Church to be what was presented to me by the systems that men’s ideas and wisdom created. In my genuine desire to serve God, I spent a good portion of my life preparing and pursuing to operate within those constructs. The result of my involvement in such things were of benefit. I learned an extensive amount through such experiences but in the end, I discovered that they were lacking in providing me the capability of coming to know God in a real way.
Eventually, I released all I had been taught and knew about what Church was and how God wanted to use the Church in revealing Who He is and in fulfilling His Purposes in the earth. As I moved forward in my journey, I kept running into other people who were on the same expedition and, though varying in detail, had come to the same conclusion regarding church. They were in hot pursuit of their Heavenly Father, uninterested in forms and religious organizations and simply wanted to relate with me based upon Christ, who just so happened to be in them and in me.
Such a concept proved daunting to me at the outset because I simply had been conditioned to “let people get just so close” before keeping them at bay. After all, I was called, chosen and anointed and I had to protect that from the, well, you know, common folk. Yeah, I know……..I cringe too when I think that I use to actually have that mentality. It was how I was trained and taught. Man, was I taught erroneously or what? And, boy, am I ever so glad that Father loved me enough to lead me out of that mess through repentance and humbling me?
The answer to both of those questions is a resounding, “YES!”
So, I actually had to learn – and please make no mistake about it, it is a learned behavior – how to accurately relate with people. Even though I committed myself to the process and sought to be led by the Spirit in learning to relate to/with people, I was far from perfect in doing so. It’s amazing how strong our own insecurities, baggage, perceptions of ourselves and projections of others can be. It was, back then and still remains at times, a very messy process, this thing called relating! But, I found out that involving myself in this process also introduced a Grace from God that I had not previously experienced before. It was almost as if He wanted this whole relating thing to work out and was rooting for me as I painstakingly pursued it.
Now, as I look back over the process, the lessons learned and the relationships that Father has developed in my life with other brothers and sisters, I am astonished and I stand as a very blessed man with numerous God-ordained connections pulsating with His Life, Love and Blessing. Through them all, He speaks to me, He encourages me, He equips me and, most importantly, He reveals Himself to me as never before. I’ve said it before and will continue to say it, Christianity is NOT an individual sport. It is a team sport! And, no one individual will EVER come to the FULLNESS of Christ alone. It takes a corporate Body to even begin to approach understanding and experiencing His fullness.
You see, Ephesians 4 clearly tells us that the joints of supply are the ties that bring cohesion to the members of the Body and that those intimate relationships serve as the channels through which The Source of Supply, the Head of the Body, Jesus Christ, disperses His Life and Provision to the various members. The power of God, through such relationships, courses through the members and closely knits them together quite naturally causing them to grow into an organic union.
The reality of the new birth we experience in Christ baptizes us into His Body by the Holy Spirit. The unity of the Spirit exists. It doesn’t have to be and, indeed, cannot be fabricated through religious organization and man-made forms. We are commanded to work at “keeping” the unity of the Spirit; NOT creating it! The work comes in learning to accurately relate and honor the Body and the connections that our new birth has brought us into. The reason so much division exists in the church today, if you won’t mind my saying it frankly, is the foolishness of men in adding stuff, things and attempting to regulate God’s business. You can read how Father specifically dealt with us regarding this issue here.
In the midst of all the extra-curricular additives that we have defined as church, people and relationships get sacrificed and lost for the sake of keeping the thing going. And the resulting impotence of our church methodology is caused by the fact that Father designed the Church to be built, strengthened, matured and ultimately bring about His Expression through the Life of Christ flowing through the intimate relationships of the Body and every member providing their measure of Him to the other members. Our thoughts/ways are not His thoughts/ways. If we do not repent and yield to His Way, we wind up hewing out cisterns that hold no water.
At this point, I’d like to present to you the thoughts and words from a dear brother and fellow sojourner along this way of relating in Christ that spawned this post. He also took his swim through a specific brand of church and ministry and has come out the other side to simply pursue Father and relating to people accurately. He’s the kind of brother that doesn’t say much. Yet, when he does, it is a wise move to listen because he speaks from a depth of experience and wisdom that is far beyond himself.
Can You Relate? (by Tony Murray)
The central theme of the Bible is about the relationship between God and man. It has been likened to the function of the many members of a body, with Christ as the head. Accurately displaying Father’s love to the world requires the efficient functioning of His Body, necessitating each member grow up relationally in Christ in all aspects.
The development we must all endure requires nurturing from the people Father brings into our lives, for there will be many who offer help who themselves function from selfish ambition. The way of peace cannot be found from self-centered individuals, for all they have to offer is the worldly, natural ‘wisdom’ that produces disorder. It hinders the process of us finding our identity as a son of God and often leads us to places where we are being questioned by God like a troubled Elijah was when he retreated to a cave (“What are you doing here?”). The wholesome, peaceful, gentle and practical wisdom can only be shared by one who is submitted to, and properly relates with the Head of the Body, as well as selected Body members.
Once established, our identity must be further severed from our old mindset by our continual reconditioning of our way of thinking. We must question the principles we follow which has kept us in turmoil as opposed to His Way of peace. We must stop justifying , dignifying, certify ying and pacifying (in the words of a well-regarded brother) the pathways and activities we have previously chosen based on some previously-accepted worldly wisdom. Our perspective of Father’s knowledge (our knowledge is incomplete) must be shared with and complemented by those He places in our lives who may have been given a different view (of Father’s reality). Then only, we will begin to find that wisdom that is full of mercy and good fruits, steadfast and without pretense, which will lead us into relating in a new and living way.
Keep your peace!