Jesus lived in complete freedom - as Himself, as His Father’s Son and doing only what was on His Father’s heart. In doing this He was not only fruitful on a daily basis. On the macro and micro scale He did all that Father planned for Him to do, experiencing the satisfaction of self-realization in spirit and in truth.
To be who we are is a pearl of great price. To achieve what we were born to accomplish is a treasure hid in a field. Both are synonymous with Christ as our life.
People can speak of living to their potential, self-realization or self-transcendence after Maslow. But nothing is in this realm is achieved independently of a life in God. Many Believers would live more of life if they lived in God instead of living in religion. Many might claim satisfaction in humanistic self-development or religious achievement, but as C.S. Lewis depicted - even this is to be a ghost of our real selves. The genius of Christ come in our flesh is that we are never a phantom of our real selves. We are always in a state of becoming and of becoming more than we are. Reality, including our real self, is Christ. To live in God is to receive Christ as life - which is to embrace Christ who has come in our flesh.
This is why those who go from church to church searching for a ‘fellowship that meets my needs,’ or a group that fits their agenda are such tragics. Life to the full is not found in such externalities. Life lives in you!
Real life and fruitfulness are found in Christ our life. We need to stop looking for this in others when we have the potential to be ourselves - when Christ is our life.
As a child I was angered by injustice. I have always been impatient of restriction. My Mother said that as a baby I hated being hemmed in. Later, on hot summer days I loathed putting my swollen feet in my best black shoes and enduring some well-meant and irrelevant sermon while imprisoned in a church. There was no spirit and life there. But lots of law from a deviant gospel. I have never had a high regard for anything that is life-denying. As sincere as many of the homilies were, many of them fell into the category of humbug. It seems to the religious mind that anything useless, pointless or wrong is ok if it lives in the package called religion. Of course it’s not. Nothing that is humbug is ok. This is why Jesus declares that all that is of Him is spirit and life.
As a school boy I was outraged when I saw teachers abuse students. As a high-school boy I burned with anger when treated unjustly by a teacher. There are things that are worthy of being angry about. Let’s be clear. We are more Christ-like when we oppose injustice and abuse than when we rationalize it, dodge confronting it and go on with some religio-political spiel about ‘authority.’ The spiritual abuse that flows from false doctrine and perverse teaching is extremely serious because it dwarfs the spirit and can last a life time. Jesus lived from the authority of His Father. Never from the authority of religion. Can it be that we need to examine ‘By what authority’ we live from the flesh in the name of God?
Jesus casting the money changers out of the temple was symbolic and prophetic. The actuality came at the cross with the burying of Adam in preparation for the resurrection of sons and daughters in Christ. Jesus’ cross, resurrection and Pentecost is the casting out of the merchants of religion writ large!
I’ve encountered folks who are annoyed when they are short-changed at the super-market, or infuriated because a booking they made did not deliver what they had ordered. Yet they are sanguine about doctrine that imprisons people in spiritual disability. They accommodate themselves to situations that blind them to their living in a lesser gospel - a lesser gospel that shrinks their personality and intellect while walling them inside uncertainty and fear. There’s always a cost when we are a politician instead of a son.
If we are angry at physical abuse then we need to be more angry at spiritual abuse that binds people to a body of death and shrivels their soul in the name of God.
VANITY OF VANITIES
Religion will not sharpen our humanity. It will dull it. It smothers our ability to sense injustice and that which is perverse when it masquerades as godliness. It leads to lethargy, pragmatism and the lazy accommodation of ourselves to a status quo that is another gospel and a perversion of Christianity. If Jesus came to set captives free, who are you to rationalize religion that keeps them bound and blind to the infinite fullness of the gospel of the Kingdom? Law based religion makes us conformist, inert, political figures who rationalize humbug, bad theology and benumbing religion in the name of God.
‘If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea’ Mark 9.42 NIV.
Especially grievous is it when we replicate a culture of ‘little ones’ because we have rationalized our living as a little one ourselves.
Some are sanguine because they know no better and trusted in those whom they mistakenly believed would tell them the truth. Some are sanguine because there is something at stake - an identity they think they have but which is an idol and a substitute for an identity in Christ. Some are sadly mistaken because they think they can have two masters. Some are unsuspecting because they have been brainwashed into a reality that is not real. And others are simply hirelings.
‘The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep’ John 10.13 NIV.
When Jesus expelled the purveyors of religion His face may have been white with anger. Sure the religionists countered that He had no respect for authority. They usually do. In actual fact He had more respect for the authority of His Father than He did for theirs. We need to ask ourselves if Jesus, on seeing us in the church, would not grab a whip and throw us out as a money changer who markets the status quo for personal need. We can do better than pedal the status quo because we think we get an identity from it. The law will give us a misshapen identity. Religion will make us a blind man. But Christ our life will make us who we are: Sons and daughters of God.