Missionaries have gone throughout the world spreading Christianity. But what the majority of them could have been spreading was the incarnation. What has been spread in most cases has been the knowledge of good and evil with a Jesus Face – a moral program and a mixture of old and new covenant with Holy Spirit added. That’s not what Jesus left us. He left us His life as ours.
What is the incarnation? It’s the being of God expressed as the being of you.
The real church is the manifestation of the person of Jesus Christ as us. This is why talk of belonging in the Body of Christ is misguided if the body we have in mind is a dead body.
Christ come in our flesh is the incarnation par excellence. It supersedes religion and makes irrelevant all lesser gospels of the law and old covenant that got themselves resurrected as a false christ.
This may be more than disconcerting if religion is what you get your identity from and those you love have spent their lives promoting. Not to worry. Grace is the door to new opportunity. Not a reason for lamenting.
The church of Jesus Christ is always Him before it is us and inevitably us as the manifestation of Him when lived as Christ and not some version of ourselves. Nevertheless we are our real selves as persons and as the church when the Christ of God is our life.
This oneness with God is of the kind that is called perichoresis. This is union with God, with the self and each other that enhances our personhood and never obliterates it. Perichoresis means union with God. We are talking the quality of union that the trinity have with each other. A quality of union in which all are together yet all are expressed as their true selves. It is the kind of union in which uniqueness is gained and never swallowed up into nothingness.
BODY OF LIFE
The Body of Christ entails union with life and never union with death, as Paul emphasises when he exults that Christ has delivered us from ‘this body of death.’ He is referring to Adam’s fake union with life in which it was suggested that humans would find Godliness and selfhood by rowing their own boat rather than enjoying unconditional trust and belief in Father.
The cross ended the lie that had become Adamic life and the resurrection began the truth of Christ our life* and the new creation. This is the life in which we are one with God so that we are truly ourselves with the result that the Kingdom of God is manifesting as the church built without human hands. It’s built without human hands because it is the manifestation of the trinity and not the manifestation of the law and the knowledge of good and evil. It is the Body of Christ because we and Christ are one rather than our being one with religion and the law with the result that we are joined to separation. Thomas Torrance explains,
UNION WITH GOD
“As united to Christ in his incarnate reality the Church constitutes the sanctified community within which we may draw near to the Father through the Son and in the Spirit and share in the eternal life, light and love of God himself. That was surely the primary truth embedded in the mind and worship of the Catholic [universal] Church in the fourth century, and was rightly given precedence over all questions of external form, organisation and structure. If it was, as they believed, the empirical Church that had been incorporated into Christ as his Body, then the real structure of the Church was lodged in Christ himself, and had to be lived out in space and time.” (1)
This is Galatians 2.20 lived collectively and Christ our life lived specifically and concretely.
‘The Body’ is the trinity expressed as you and as us.
The core of the church, the Kingdom and the new creation – all expressions of the incarnated trinity in us – the Body of Christ – is that God’s people are the expression of God in their flesh. They are never the attempt to emulate abstractions like the law or any of the many and diverse formulations of the knowledge of good and evil, even the Christian ones.
Truly, ‘to live is Christ’ and truly ‘Christ is all and in all’ as individuals and as the church.
* Christ our life is best understood in terms of the vicarious humanity of Jesus, which is the foundation of your security in God, your identity and selfhood as a daughter and a son. (1)Torrance, Thomas F.. The Trinitarian Faith: The Evangelical Theology of the Ancient Catholic Church (T&T Clark Cornerstones) (p. 275). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.