The gospel of Jesus was very plain. For Jesus is was ‘It’s Me!’ For Paul it was It’s Him!’ To live in this simplicity is to live in revelation and life. If we have learned to think that doing Christianity is doing religion we have no problem in thinking that doing church is being Godly. Religion is based on the notion that we must do things to be accepted by God. It’s the ‘If you do this I will do that’ basis.’
Years ago I read what I thought was a somewhat amusing remark in a book called The Search For Meaning. A contributor observed that we can spend much of our lives recovering from our childhood. I though it was funny. My Mum not so much! There is another truth however. Growing in Christ and advancing into our own glory is similar. For many it means recovering from ‘veils’ and the religious myths that shaped us – abandoning cunningly devised fables and walking in the truth that is none other than Jesus our life.
YOU CANT BUY IT
If the old covenant was based on this ‘If you do this, I will do that’ - and it seems that it was - the new covenant is not. We have been gifted with life in Jesus. The new covenant simply means Christ is our life. It’s simple, all encompassing, totally sufficient and makes us one with God. And without you doing a thing. But that’s the rub. For quite a few ‘not doing a thing’ other than resting in Jesus robs them of their self-respect and their need to demonstrate themselves worthy. They don’t accept it and spend their entire lives walking in circles of confusion – a phantom of their real selves and sons of the slave woman.
We are one in fellowship. Actually we are one with Father and Holy Spirit to the same degree that Jesus and His Father are one. We find this in John 17. This does not mean that we will become passive however. It means that we and all we do will be filled with the spirit and life of God. We will do what Jesus is doing in the moment and in the season. We are liberated from the religious and other people’s Ishmael’s . We become who we are as sons and release rivers of living water without effort and contrivance.
‘Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does’ John 5.19 NIV. You can do this too because you and Father are one. As a son/daughter you are an expression of our Father.
Some people are a keen to demonstrate their good works in order to convince themselves, other people and God that they are worthy. But as slaves they are bereft of spirit and life. There are many non-believers who have as much human kindness and who help others. But they are not one with God. So its not charitable or ostentatious acts that make us Godly. Or that release spirit and life. It’s our living in union with God, the total acceptance we already possess in Him that is Godly and makes us Godly. This is the genius of life in the Spirit of Jesus. One with Him we impart life by being ourselves!
But here’s the thing. This living in Him is not a feat or a hoop to jump through. God has placed us in Himself through Jesus Christ. So you can stop posing as Mother Theresa and be yourself! You will multiply a lot more life and this will be life that lasts.
God is not in rituals, observances or externalities of any kind. He is in Himself. And He is in us. Our life, our individuality and community is defined by a person and is the manifestation of the person of Jesus. In Jesus you will always be yourself and you will always be Godly. In the new covenant Holy Spirit does not convict us that we are sinners. Spirit assures us that no matter what ups and downs, lapses, failed resolutions, sins and aborted re-consecrations describe us - we are always in God, in His fellowship and graced with His holiness.
Paul used the words, ‘Christ our life.’ Because He is totally our life. There is nothing to top-up through religious observances of any kind. Francois Du Toit writes,
‘Traditional religious rituals like special holy days and festivals, rules and regulations pertaining to fasting and special diets, baptisms, rites and observances, hold prophetic value until the time and person they point towards come to fulfilment. While many are still divided about whether the Sabbath should be held on the first or the seventh day, the Sabbath has already come to fullness in a Person. Who Jesus is and what He has done reflects all that God sees in the Sabbath!’