JohnSWilson3 Blog


The Briefcase or The Bag
August 23, 2012, 11:30 am
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

Some thoughts came to mind early this morning. The picture of a briefcase and a picture of a tote bag. You probably have seen both kinds before. Both are used to help carry things from place to place. Typically we see children and teenagers carrying tote bags, many times adults will carry these as well, something simple to carry some of the basics of things. On the other hand the briefcase is typically carried by a professional adult, something made more complex and often locked to carry professional work that must be protected.

briefcase

The briefcase is like a church that is complex, business like, and carry’s that same kind of “brand” where ever it goes. The briefcase church has an outward focus on the life of the body as being about professionals. It takes professionals to do the work, it takes professionals to run the business, it takes professionals to read the book(s), it takes professionals to lead people, and it takes money away from it’s members in order to “run” it. It’s members believe that’s how church is supposed to be done and prefer that professionals do the work because they are busy with their individual lives.

tote bag

The tote bag is like a gathering of brothers and sisters, an ekklesia, she is simple, community like, and carry’s that same kind of “life” where ever she goes. The bag ekklesia has an outward focus on the life of the body as being about one another. It takes every member to do the work, it takes every member to love one another, it takes every member to hear Christ together, it takes every member to build up the body, and they willingly serve and give and help one another in love. It’s members believe that’s what Christ meant when He said to love one another and they prefer Christ to be Head because they have their eyes on Him.

“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Cor. 11:2-3.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ ” Heb. 13:4-5.

” ‘…and the two will become one flesh.’This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the (ekklesia).” Eph. 5:31b-32.

Advertisements


The Alternator of a Car
August 18, 2012, 5:13 pm
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

Just as the alternator of a car can either drain the energy from the battery or let the energy flow to the rest of parts of the car, so too the body of Christ when she lives selfishly or unselfishly towards one another.

Just as the driver must remove and replace the alternator that drains the battery in the car, so to He must do the same in the body of Christ.

But after changing the alternator, the car will only sit and idle until the driver moves the car. Just as the driver must drive the car in order for it to move, so too the body of Christ when she has Christ as Head.

Each of these may look different dependent upon the gathering of the brothers and sisters, but when she is living by Christ as Head together there is always life.

Is she living by a system, a philosophy, a tradition, a personality, a something or someone or is she living by a Person? The bottom line is is she living by the flesh, by the soul-life, which is selfish, or by the Spirit, which is selfless?

How “does” the body remove the alternator of the car? How “does” the body let the driver move the car? How “do” we put off the flesh and put on Christ, to live together by the Head, the Life, the Spirit of Christ together?

She cannot. Only Christ can remove it. Only Christ can give life. Only Christ can give eyes to see and ears to hear what He is telling her.

In truth Christ has removed the old life on the cross! In truth Christ has raised us to His new life! The old is gone the new has come. We now live no longer by the soul-life but by the Spirit. May we hear Him together and follow Him by faith with love, living by this Reality!

To get around replacing the alternator we jump start the battery, but this only lasts so long, soon the battery is drained of energy along with having a dead alternator. When a crisis comes we too often want to go to a “new” church or in the “old” church start a new program, e.g. a building program, new Sunday school classes or Bible studies, or do a new model of church, to “jump start” the body, instead of letting Christ fix the real problem.

A car will need an alternator changed many times in its life, so to the body of Christ. During times of crisis, she must continue to fix her eyes on Him in order to see her life more fully in Christ and move forward in deeper experience in Him with one another by faith with love.

May we humbly ask Father to open the eyes of the body to her Life in His Son by the Spirit.

alternator



Comments related to “pastor.”

These are some comments I shared with a fellow brother and thought others might benefit from it.

__________________________________________________________________

I can get dogmatic regarding peoples use of mistranslated terms such “overseer,” “elder,” “pastor,” “deacons,” “rulers,” etc because of the hierarchy men use the terms for versus the organic function of those with this measure of faith and gift of Christ as they were intended.

My guess is the theme of scripture too often has been God’s people deciding to not trust God as Head over them but installing a man as their leader, a cult of personality as it were. “The concept of the Pastor as being a shepherding elder is well established” strikes at the heart of this problem. There is no concept of a single human pastor in the scripture. In the Old Testament these people were types of Christ or types of anti-Christ not an example for the ekklesia to follow. What is well established from the New Testament is that older people are brothers and sisters who have experienced Christ’s care from one another and have learned to express His life of care to others. I do agree that these older people were “pointed out” as examples/guides of those living by the Spirit, but this simply was not an appointment to a position. It was to help the body live by Jesus, keep their eyes on Jesus, by seeing others do so together. We have made a simple gesture of Paul to help the body stay focused on Christ to focusing on people, totally contrary to what Paul had in mind. Installing a man as a leader/leaders whether formally or not has been the bane of Christianity, especially in what we see in the ekklesia in Corinth, and then later in its ugliest form in Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and every other denomination, to its shame. Thinking we have made a doctrine of human leadership the lynchpin on whether the “church” has it correct or not versus living by our One Leader together. When the focus of “church” becomes about “leaders” instead of Christ she has lost her focus.

The other thought that comes to mind is I have come to realize just how the life of Christ, His Spirit builds up His people. He builds up His body by His Spirit, experienced by His people together and as we the learn to express Him to family, friends, etc. Christ said He would build His ekklesia/His people. This IS job of the Single Pastor alone, but not human “pastors” as institutional Christianity has developed. The Single Pastor living through one another. Every member in Christ can express His life (gift) and we should acknowledge such, which is very encouraging to one another, but this is no cause to “put them into position to use those gifts.” My question is what do we mean by this? If they are living by His life already why would we put them into a position? If anything when we do this we have already focused on the “gift” and not on Christ who is the gift and divided the body between the specially gifted/the clergy and the laity which are two completely foreign concepts in the Bible. It was another problem in Corinth, they focused on certain “gifts” or “gifted men” and not the Gift. I guess my question is that, not considering institutional Christianity’s focus on using “gifts” or perhaps more likely “human talents” for worship services, sunday school, discipleship training, etc how can a body function in body life? I think the answer is body life functions as a result of Christ’s life in His people in closely connected relationships with Christ as Head.

These are some thoughts that have arrested me for some years now. I am compelled by Christ to know Him intimately as I live by His life with His people.



“Let love of the brethren continue…”
August 5, 2012, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Q - Letter to Hebrews

“Let love of the brethren continue…”

At the conclusion of chapter 12 the author to Hebrews makes a climactic statement about the brothers and sisters. They “have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God” and because we have been graced with having “come to God” by faith in Christ Jesus our Lord, we can hear Him not in fear but in love. If we have been given “such a great salvation” then we must “see to it that (we) do not refuse him who speaks” to us by His life in us. The author now brings the entire letter back to his beginning thought. “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven…We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Later the author said that in order for what we hear by “his voice” to have “value” it must be combined “with faith.” The whole object, the entire purpose of God from the beginning was to have an expression, a manifestation of His Son in His creation, to bring “many sons to glory!” Because we are so apt to drift, to fall back to religion, instead of fixing our eyes on Jesus, we are called to live by His life together. Jesus is “the author and perfecter of our faith.” Only by Him will He have His heart’s desire.

Chapter 13 are the results, the expression of Christ in His ekklesia as they hear Him and live by His life by faith – “Let love of the brethren continue.” Being in Christ causes a different way of living. It is counter-cultural, it is other. It is selfless and sacrificial. We find this in type by many selfless acts in society, most especially in our Lord. This is nothing new to the local ekklesias that have been previously written to in the New Testament writings. Christ’s life can never be contained. His life always gives, even to the death for all. But this life is a mutually life giving Spirit, and as a result the ekklesia giving and receiving of His life is strengthened and encouraged. This life is not all about talk, far from it, it is about expressing His life in practical ways towards one another. The Pharisees were guilty of all talk, they knew the Scriptures, but they did not follow even the milk of the oracles of God. May we never just talk about what we hear from Christ, the milk, but live by His life of faith in love, the meat. Today we have a lot of talking through various social media, even in our face-to-face interactions it can be a lot of talk about Christ, but this is only the milk. It is necessary in season, but it does not bring about the fullness of Christ, whose life is love. As Paul succinctly said “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

Christ’s last words to His disciples shows what the expression of His life in the disciples would look like: “love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus said this repeatedly in his final hours with His disciples. He continues to repeat those words to His ekklesia today. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” This cuts against the grain of our flesh. When we choose to follow what He says, to love someone else instead of ourselves, there will be a “removing of what can be shaken – that is created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” The only thing that has substance, the only thing that is in truth reality in the mind of God, the only thing that truly remains is a Person, Christ’s life, and His life is love.

The Spirit speaking through the author of Hebrews is bringing the ekklesia back to this last supper with the disciples. In this statement “Let love of the brethren continue” the Spirit is returning the ekklesia back to Jesus’ last words. Interestingly, the word “continue” comes from the root word for “abide” or “remain.” A retranslation of these two Greek words of Chapter 13 verse one could be: “Let love of the brethren abide.” Jesus said “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” The way the author of Hebrews writes these words is of course the problem that this ekklesia has been dealing with: drifting away, falling back to religion because of their difficult circumstances. Our modern Christianity is the result of having drifted and fallen back to religion. Human traditions have replaced the mutual sharing of love, the actual participating in the life of Christ in and to and through one another. We have made love for one another into a travesty. The hour of the day is to return to loving one another by faith, not based on what we know or don’t know or what opinions one holds as compared to another or anything else that would divide us, but solely on the basis of the unselfish love of Christ. Brothers and sisters we must come back to fixing our eyes on Jesus, hearing Him who lives in us and loving one another by faith, no matter the cost. How would Christ in you love another right now, today? We have too many securities, too many people trying to protect us from ourselves, from our flesh, so that we have been imprisoned in a world that has no resemblance of the life of Christ. Do you not know that the flesh was crucified once for all? It is a reality to be lived out. Read the letter to the Hebrews, it is milk, just like all of the letters, but it is milk to open our eyes to the reality of who we are in Christ, a new paradigm. The old has gone the new has come. Now before us is the meat, to live by His life. Will we abide in our selfish love or abide in His unselfish love? If Christ is in each of us and He is our life, then to abide in His love is to find its fullest expression in loving one another. “Let love of the brethren abide.”