If Jesus has raised your spirit from the dead by gaining your attention and signalling to you that you had been absorbing yourself in religion, but had very little real knowledge of Him, you would have come to understand that Jesus is all about life and not about religion.
Many have trodden this path. It’s the start of our re-birth and our introduction to real life.
FALSE RELIGION, FALSE CHRIST
You might find however that you will be opposed by many in the camp of religion – opposed because we can have a religious view of God rather than a Jesus vision of God. Even then there is a fair chance that our vision of Jesus may have been corrupted by a religious christ rather than a real Christ.
Years ago while reading an account of Manning Clark’s life I was struck by what he had noticed among certain of the religious: A life-denying attitude. The worst ever example of this was the crucifixion of the One who came to be our life. Yet even in this act of our depravity Jesus reached into it and undid it from within. Since by man came death. By the Son of Man comes resurrection and life.
I encountered a man once who took offence at a story of Jesus fellowshipping with surfers. Over the years others have opposed vivid colours while others have sought a kind of ‘holiness’ by opposing modernity. Christians have opposed dancing for the same reason – but not it seems cheating the tax man or sustaining gerrymanders.
THE DECEIT OF EXTERNALITIES
A friend once observed that it is better to be swimming in a pond of religion than in the anomie of unbelief. I didn’t agree at the time. Didn’t see eye to eye because religion can insulate us from the reality of a personal Jesus and leave us insulated from union with God. Spirituality is never what we are doing. It’s who we are part of who is part of us. Paul called it Christ in you.
OPPORTUNITY TO REDEEM
Yet Jesus can use the barrenness of religion to awaken us to the possibility that there has to be more; that there must be a life without limit if there is a decent God.
FROM THE INSIDE OUT
With Christ as our life, we will not get a religious life. We will get the life without limitation that comes in the form of spirit and life. In the externalities of the religion the spirit remains dead. With Jesus as us our spirit is alive and we connect with the Being who has already incarnated Himself in the creation. Even the irreligious can sense this presence. In Jesus we plug right into it and access this unmuffled spirit and life.
THE INCARNARED BODY OF CHRIST
Not many years ago there was a movement called The Emerging Church. Some of it did not go anywhere because we need to be alive more than we need to be re-invented as the church. There is merit in de-institutionalisation but not when it is replaced by another institution. Our great need is to live in what we have: Incarnation.
When Christ is our life the church that is us takes on the form that it needs to be to be - Jesus as us.
The incarnation and not the church is the hub of Kingdom life. When we are incarnated and living in the oneness with God that is ours, we are His Church.
Jesus is life. When we dispense with substitutes for Him and abandon every kind of religious insulation and EAT HIM with our spirit we become life. He is incarnated in us and manifests as Ben and Jill. In Jesus is life and that life is the light of people. With Christ our life this us, you, and the church. We are living in the infinity of life that is God.
Religion can be a ploy to overcome separation. There is no separation in Christ Jesus. With Christ as our life we and our Father are one. This is real spirituality – the burning bush and the transfiguration of Jesus is you. This is life in the Spirit.
Jeff Turner shares what many can identify with: The path from religion to life itself; the move from old covenant to new and the change from a life in Adam’s tree of death-dealing fruit to sucking the marrow out of life because we eat and drink Jesus Himself. He writes,
“I continued on in my religious desperation, praying an average of 5-12 hours a day, and often fasting (or at least attempting to fast) every other day or so. I exhausted myself and anyone with a 100 mile radius of me with my religious exercises and legalism. Everything and anything was banned in my house in the name of being “holy” and pleasing to the Lord.
There was literally almost nothing that we could participate in in the way of entertainment and recreation, for such things were carnal and “displeasing to the Lord”, and when I inevitably did allow myself to enjoy the simple pleasures of life (for who can ever truly avoid such enjoyments?) I’d fall under crushing condemnation and go for days feeling as though I’d sinned away the favour of God.” (1)
We are doing the Lord’s Table because it is a rite of our religion. Then again we can be doing it because it is a celebration of the fact that He is us – that we are one substance with God.
You are spiritual when you realise that Christ is in you and in your world. You are holy as God is holy because you agree with God that He has made Himself part of you.
(1) Turner, Jeff. Saints in the Arms of a Happy God: Recovering the Image of God and Man (pp. 9-10). Jeff Turner. Kindle Edition.