Years ago I was reading a book on the search for meaning. In it one of the authors emphasised the need to be cautious about either/or thinking and be ready to contemplate both/and thinking.
The latter is what we call non-dualistic thinking. It’s important because we have been given life in a non-dualistic Being. The trinity may be three in one but God’s prime characteristic is One. Thus it should not be surprising that in Jesus Christ we get oneness with God, oneness with self and oneness with others. It’s called love and is the essence of life.
HORSES FOR COURSES
Dualistic thinking in which something is either correct or incorrect will deliver us the coordinates to travel from any point in space back to earth. Non-dualistic thinking in this situation will be no help at all. But it will be useful in helping us discover the meaning of meaning and the meaning of persons.
In every case, however, clarity of thought and the arrival at the truth is always aided by knowledge over ignorance.
This is why we cannot be dogmatic about faith communities being members of Christ’s body just because they claim His name. At least not without ascertaining what His Body is, and what means to be ‘in’ His body.
If a christ can be any one we say he is or have any qualities we care to nominate and if this membership can apply to anyone from the Waco Cult to the local Baptist church then our notion of such ‘belonging’ is at the least ambiguous or just plain wrong.
Then again ‘belonging’ is not everything as a youth can belong to a family and be a delinquent. Jesus described ‘good belonging’ in Himself as the branches of His Vine.
Jesus is the Way to belonging in the life of God. Paul points out that we can belong as sons or as slaves in Galatians. It’s beneficial to have the real Christ and the real Gospel.
BELONGING TO WHOM?
As I have written before, a useful criteria for belonging in the body of Christ would be that we have placed our faith in the Christ of God; that we have embraced Jesus’ gospel and not some made-up gospel of our own and that we are progressing into who we are as redeemed sons of God in the fullness of the inheritance that has become ours as a result of the ministry and victory of Jesus over sin and death.
Keep in mind that we all grow in our knowledge of God, of ourselves and of what Godliness means for us as individuals and the church. But growth as in a mustard seed growing into a fruitful and aromatic herb to minister as itself is on a different plane to having embraced a seed that is not a kingdom seed but a tare.
This is to say there is a critical difference in growing in the knowledge of God and embracing a different gospel of the kind Paul warned of – a gospel so distorted that it delivers us a curse. Keep in mind that there are entities in human bodies that are productive organs and other than are a tumour.
Such gospels negate the cross, quench the incarnation and leave the Believer in a separation mindset where, as far as we are concerned, Christ died for nothing (Gal 2.21). Thus claiming that one belongs to the Body in such a situation is like postulating water than is not wet. It’s meaningless – unless one lives to claim legitimacy for something that is of ‘any interpretation.’
‘Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture [or gospel] came about by the prophet's own interpretation of things’ 2 Peter 1.20 NIV. We are not entitled to our own gospel, our own way or our own truth.
Richard Rohr writes, “Binary thinking is not wrong or bad in itself — in fact, it is necessary in many if not most situations. But it is completely inadequate for the major questions and dilemmas of life.” (1) This is why Christ is our life and the law is not. In God’s scheme the Word is a the Person of Jesus Christ. In fundamentalism the christ is turned into words.
IDENTITY IN BEING
Anyone can produce a proof text, a positional statement or a fiction to avoid the truth. But in the Kingdom we do not live in words. We live in THE WORD because Christ is our life and we and Father are one. We are united with the truth because we have become one with life. ‘You will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV. (1) Rohr, Richard. The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See (p. 32). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.