We Are His Workmanship
If we have heard the essence of the gospel, we are learning to move on with the Spirit, to count all things loss in pursuit of the high calling of God. We are on a journey to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. That is the high calling. It begins with the cross as the cancellation of our fallen nature. Man, as Adam, was put to an end there. And God raised us in Christ to make us alive to Him by the Spirit. The process, the journey, continues with the cross daily. We learn to stay yoked with Christ, and be listening to our Father.
The Scriptures (Paul’s letters) allow of no other sustaining factor in the body of believers (the church) than the life of the Spirit. The tragedy of so many systems of church organization is that they often serve as a scaffolding to hold up an edifice from which the Spirit has departed and which ought to be allowed to collapse.
The paragraph above in italics is from a booklet on unity by a Scot, a brother in the Lord, John Kennedy. In his later life, he served as an itinerant teacher encouraging local believers in India. He had a maturity which is needed always. Unfortunately it is too often lacking in what I will call the Western church. He wrote two booklets on this same topic and addresses practical issues. If we learn to listen by the Spirit, we can understand beyond the written words. This man John shared valuable insights. I am not sure these messages are still in print or I would recommend them..
The word of the cross has far-reaching impacts if we will allow the Spirit to apply it to us. This application is needed corporately as well as individually. It was so in the church at the beginning, in the first century. They knew Christ as crucified and the potential to be killed for worshipping Christ was a reality until the days of Constantine and the emergence of a harlot church. It continues today. A most important truth for believers to practice is a commitment to the Lord Himself. True unity exists as we allow the Lord to grow us up into Christ. Jesus said He would build His church. The strongholds of our adversary (the gates of hell) cannot resist that church. That church is His body. That is not a concept but a spiritual reality.
As I reread the passage in Ephesians and saw the phrase I use as a title, the word “we” caught my attention. Individual knowledge of the Lord is essential. Each of the 12 first disciples had that with Jesus but much of the time they were relating to Him as a group. Leadership among them was established yet a strong sense of humility was imparted as well. This was exemplified at the cross. They saw it happen. Not everyone of them had the same experiences. Three were taken to the mount and saw a heavenly reality. Thomas had a unique experience of the resurrected Jesus. We too often see that critically but we miss the point. Jesus met him where he was and he touched a resurrected man. The 12 continued on together and were all in one place, of one mind, with about 110 others in that upper room when the Spirt fell on them all, and they were filled with that Spirit of God.
As we each go on, we need individual time with the Lord as well as gatherings. Times may come for personal separation for a season. Saul had this after his time in Damascus. Jesus did it regularly. We each need recharging. Those times bring rest and refreshing and direction. Sadly, however, we still try to do church and too often it comes short. This will be a distressing thought but every time we organize and call it “church,” we continue to miss it. A generation of young ones is rising who do not want to do it anymore. We do need gatherings and they are happening. I must be full of care (careFULL) not to discourage what the Lord is pleased to accomplish as we gather. He does show up. He does encounter. But so much is activity that feeds our need to do. Been there done that. The Lord is bring us to higher place. May we allow Him to work on us and leave behind the frameworks. Lord, revive Your work in our time. Even so, come Lord Jesus and walk among Your lampstands and speak so that we may be aligned with You.