‘In Him is life that that life is the light of all.’ That’s what John said and it’s what Jesus said about Himself. Truth, understanding, spirit-life and wholeness are found in our personal Jesus. IN Him we are never alone. We always belong and are always at home, even when far away from loved ones and fiends. In Jesus is life and the life is the light of all who received Him as Himself.
This reminds me of a revelatory dream Jesus gave me once. I saw a family standing outside the façade of their church. The structure of the church had collapsed in flames because it had been engulfed by lava flowing from the pits of iniquity. The family in question were of fundamentalist culture, big on the law and supporters of church routine. Yet members of the family had been swallowed by the very immoralities they personally abhorred. These people were not ‘lost’ or outside Jesus’ grace. But Jesus was showing that is it He who is life. He whose life is the bulwark against the sordid traps we desire to avoid. The message was that rules and moralities in themselves have no power to protect us from sin or to make us whole and holy. It disturbs me that so many can be churched and ‘Christian’ and not know that our life is a Jesus life. They lead a religious life in which their Christianity is lived in a ‘Jesus vacuum.’
The thing is, if we do not have Jesus, we do not have anything.
Every time I notice that a church or a congregation has labelled itself a ‘Bible Church,’ I experience misgivings. Firstly our life is formed not from the Bible but from the person of Jesus. The life of individuals is the life of Jesus expressed and the life of the church is Jesus writ large in Believers. But this comes not from an industrious following of texts. It comes from the Spirit of Jesus manifest as you.
Last night on TV a pastor justified the abuse and rape of his wife using words of scripture. There is a culture in the church that justifies the domination of women and the suffocation of their leadership in the church by distorting scriptures and claiming the authority of the word. And this in the notion that they are a ‘Bible Believing’ people. But our life does not come from pages, from black and white print or from a book with a leather cover. That’s bibliolatry. Our life comes from Jesus as does our spiritual eye sight.
The Living Word is not the Bible but the person of Christ – the logos - the One in which the entire creation has its meaning and purpose. It was the Living Word that inspired the written word as Godly people were inspired by the Spirit of God. Jesus put the teachers of the law right on this one. He said, ‘In these words, you think you have eternal life. But their purpose is to testify of Me.’ Jesus never shunned women. He enjoyed their presence and honoured their femininity. There are numerous Bible examples where women are more astute than men. We would do well to note that in both Greek and Hebrew, Holy spirit is always given a feminine gender. We could also note that it takes both a man and a woman to reflect the image of God.
It’s significant that religious and secular organisations attempt to gain and retain power through hierarchy. But this is not so with the church Jesus builds. The trinity is not a hierarchy. It is one for all and all for one. The trinity is the model for marriage, the family and the church. Headship is found in Jesus. Not in males. Infinite life is found in Jesus. Not in Bible studies. Entire denominations have arisen from the distortion of scripture. This is why it is Jesus who is the light and the life of the Believer and not the opinion of cliques or false prophets.
Read the written word through the Jesus Lens. Interpret what you read through Jesus and the new covenant. The gospel of the Kingdom is not perceived through any private interpretation, or through the law. It is known for what it is mainly through the testimony of John and Paul. Paul’s gospel, which he called ‘my gospel’ is the authoritative touchstone of the ‘apostles teaching.’ John thought some of Paul’s though difficult to understand because Paul declared a complete break between the religion of the Jews and the new life in which Christ is totally our life.
The leading of the Holy Spirit is not a replacement for reading the word of God. Unless we have a reasonable familiarity with scripture we will be incapable of discerning what is of the Spirit and what is of an unclean spirit. Yet the words and teachings of the Bible are not a another kind of new testament law. Father did not give us the laws of Jesus. He gave us Jesus Himself to be our righteousness and our life by His Spirit in us.
As I embraced the call to know Jesus, it became clear to me that Jesus Himself was the narrow way and the new and living way who is the life of all. The Way is a person. Religion will have its patterns, rules, laws, morals, good advice, Christian conformity and religious structures as the narrow way. Not at all. This is a devious and crooked way - the wide way of the conformist trudging along mindlessly in the old covenant or in mixture. In the new and living way that is totally Jesus we are invited to leave the parade of dead men walking and joint those who are filled with His spirit and life.
Michael Kapler writes, ‘The narrow way that leads to life is not a straight and narrow lifestyle; it's the person of Jesus Christ himself.
Just as the New Covenant is a person, so is the narrow gate, along with grace, peace, salvation, truth and sanctification. There is only one (narrow) way that leads to life and that is through Jesus. Nobody can come to the Father except through him. "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he , will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture" (John 10:9).
Whereas the narrow gate is the person of Jesus Christ, the broad way is the attempt of attaining righteousness through the effort of works that results only in the elevation of the flesh. There are so many ways to show off your religion, because in the land of the legal, it's all about how you want to interpret the rules and even make up some new ones of your own.’
Jesus will not live in you and turn you into a ‘Living Bible’ or a manifestation of a bunch of texts. He will grace you as an expression of Himself. He does not dumb-down the spirit into the letter. He releases you from the letter into the spirit – the Spirit of Sonship where you bring glory to Father by being your true self. This is Jesus come in the flesh – yours!