Ever since I can remember I was impatient with anything that represented itself as life, when it was actually less than life. I was a five year old when I realised that religion was not life to the full – not in those words – but I saw that what was offered as life as religion was not actually alive. Well, no more alive than a pile of wool and ribs in under a tree in a paddock that had once been a sheep.
HE IS WHAT HE ADVOCATES
Jesus emphasised that He was truth and life. In other words He was and is in Himself the salvation and life to the full that He offers. He is not offering is His religion. He offers Himself on the basis that if we agree that He is our life He is our life infinitely, as the very substance of reality.
Thomas Torrance got to the essence of the Gospel by emphasising that “Grace means the primary and constitutive act in which out of free love God has intervened to set our life on a wholly new basis. But [it] also means that through faith this may be actualised in flesh and blood because it has been actualised in Jesus christ. We are able to actualise faith because Jesus being our life is our faith.” This is why we live from the incarnation and not from the law.
IT’S ABOUT BEING
If we are disciples of the knowledge of good and evil, which we are should we remain tied to the law, we will interpret the life and state of being that He offers us as religion – which is of course an abstraction. Thus every time there is speaking opportunity or a conference we will offer up a piece of the knowledge of good and evil. We may present a discourse but it will seldom be a piece of revelation that Jesus is communicating through you. We will not be offering spirit and life because we aren’t spirit and life. We are promoters of the tree of knowledge. Not that we would know. Because ministers of the old covenant cannot see. We can speak something and nothing in ministry without being aware of it. But as a minister of the new covenant, you will know you are alive and you will give life – not just religion.
I have spent much of my life with people who do not know that they are not fully alive in their Christ Inheritance. Not alive because they do not care or do not want to know about things other than their church routine. Those who have will have more and those who do not have because they are too smug to be aware of more will lose even what they have. I have seen this in real life.
Then there are those who take offence at the thought that there could be any more life on offer than what they have as Christian. These can be dead in their spirit and alive to doing what they always do. Some of the most un-alive people are the most active in good works and yet impeded by the idea that any more of God might destroy the entitlement they have accumulated by doing what they are always doing – earning salvation.
The heart cares about not being alive, because we have been made to possess unlimited life. We have been gifted the limitless life that is Christ our life. The heart knows this even if the mind is too dull to cotton on.
MORE THAN A RELIGION
Michael Kaplar writes, “I WAS A YOUNG CHILD at the age of ten when I professed faith in Jesus Christ and I can remember it like it was yesterday. I recall looking over at the picture of Jesus hanging on my bedroom wall and coming to the realization that I had just entered into personal contact with the One represented in that picture. In that moment, I experienced something I can’t describe, but the reality transpired within me that Jesus was more than a mere religion. He wasn’t just a swear word or figment of someone’s imagination, and he was much more than a picture on the wall.” (1)
Jesus is much more than religion. To treat Him as such is to downgrade Him and miniaturize yourself. We strive to emphasise the truth that Jesus is much more than an entity around which an institution is built. His life for us is more than an intellectual acquisition that we call ‘our faith.’ We desire that all who minister are capable of presenting spirit and life instead of something and nothing – a piece of the knowledge of good and evil. All can know that our inheritance is actually a state of being in which we and Jesus are one. In this state of being, we have been drawn into His life of communion in the Trinity and oneness with people and the creation that has its being in Christ.
In this kind of life you can be alive, even if you are growing old and your body is fading – because your spirit is alive in Christ your life.