Church/Community Life and its Practice of Putting On
Church/Community Life and its Practice of Putting On
What do I mean by Church/Community Life and its Practice of Putting On? I am defining “Church/Community Life” as people, in a local area, who have decided to begin the process of living by the indwelling life of the Lord Jesus Christ together. In scriptural words its people who want to submit to the headship of Jesus Christ.
I am defining the “Practice of Putting On” as the different ways in which these people come together and function together as One.
In looking at these two thoughts I would like to begin with establishing the difference between processing the indwelling life of Jesus Christ and living by the indwelling life of Jesus Christ. Can a person process the life of Jesus Christ and not live by it? YES! Many people have come to the place of meeting Jesus Christ and recognizing His indwelling Life inside of them. At this point they are encouraged to read and study about Him and learn how to live like Him. One of the well know sayings today among Christians is WWJD – What would Jesus Do. I would like to suggest that there is only one answer to that question and that is He would live by the will of His Father and not His own sinless and perfect will. It is Jesus Christ who lives by the life and will of His Father. He is the first man to live “Church/Community Life” on this earth.
John 5:30-32″I can do nothing on My own initiative As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true.”There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. (NAS)
Making Jesus Lord or Head of ones life is much more than trying to do righteous acts or live by a set of Biblical rules of conduct. Making Jesus Lord or Head of ones life is living by His Will and this cannot be done alone it can only happen within the Body of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the head of the body not simply the head of your part. Jesus is the head of the whole body which He needs – The Head (Jesus) cannot say to the feet (some of us) I do not need you. Nor can the eye (you) say to the hand (the brother or sister you don’t like) I don’t need you.
1Cor:12-27 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ….If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” ….If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…..The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”…… But God has combined the members of the body…..so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other…..Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
A Baby is a head and a body that does not know how to work together very well yet. A child is a head and a body that is learning and growing up into the head. The mature person is the full grown body that the head directs in total unison to do great things in expressing the visible Christ to the world..
The Prayer of Jesus John 17:20-23 I’m praying not only for them But also for those who will believe in me Because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, So they’ll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, And give the godless world evidence That you’ve sent me and loved them In the same way you’ve loved me. (The Message)
This is the essence of Church/Community Life that a people become one heart and mind through the Spirit with Jesus Christ and the Father.
The Practice of Putting On
How is Church/Community Life practiced? In looking at this I would like you to remember the analogy of everyone being a body part. Guess what most people feel the most important practice in the church is? Well people who are hands think it has to do with the hands and people who are feet feel like it is walking and people who are arms well you get the idea. As long as we continue to look at this through our individual parts we will never be able to get a full view of Christ. Gifted musicians see the importance of music and gifted teaches the importance of teaching, counselors see the need for Godly counsel and gifted prayer warriors the need for prayer. Are they wrong? No, I don’t believe so but left alone or left to lead it will not produce an expression of Jesus Christ.
The body body of Christ has one Head and that is Jesus. He is the leader and those who take the time to hear His voice will be able to function as a body. Each part having its function in its time. Everything does not function at the same time or in the same way – but everything in its time and way.
One of the great failing of the church today is the church meeting. We have come to think that the body can all function there in that 2 or even 4 hour time. This is impossible!!!!!! For the body to truly function we need to look in terms of years not hours. Especially if you are only getting together once or twice a week. A proper functioning body will be able to meet all of its needs. And its only in a proper functioning body that the kingdom of God will really be seen on this earth.
A complete mature functioning body of Jesus Christ cannot possibly be contained or fully expressed in a room or in a day but it can be seen in part and expressed in part if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Jn.14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘?
Philip had been walking with God and yet was unaware who he had really been fellowshipping with because he was unfamiliar with the Father’s voice and the limitation of the flesh of Jesus Christ. God can be everywhere at all times but flesh cannot. So how can God express himself through flesh – He can’t do it very effectively through one individual body he needs many individuals to form His One Body. Through the many responding to the one voice of the Spirit God, Jesus can be seen and experienced in a more complete and fulfilling way.
So what kind of gatherings will a church of Jesus Christ have?
Prayer, Praise, Worship, Fellowship, Teaching, Preaching, Counseling, Eating, Fishing, Prophetic, Getting to know God’s Voice, Walking, Talking, Swimming, Evangelistic, Cooking, Painting, Mowing Lawns, Cleaning, Working on Cars, Vacationing, and on and on. The assembling of the parts of the body, what ever parts that may be, maybe just 2, maybe 3, maybe 100 or even 1000 those parts need to hear the voice coming from the head, Jesus Christ, and follow that voice knowing that the Spirit will cause the body to flow and express itself together as the one new man that it is. Let each part function as it hears and let no body part take the place of the head. If a body part has taken the place of the head those who possess the life of Christ will not be able to express the life of Jesus Christ.
Leaders in the Church point others to Christ they do not take the place of Christ. The purpose of leadership within the Church is to help others hear the voice of Jesus Christ not to tell them what Christ wants them to do.
Matt.23:1-10 Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer. “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.'”Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ. (The Message)
And one final note here I like what Peter Hoover writes in his book “The Secret of the Strength”
Spirit baptism is an inner experience, taught the Anabaptists of Moravia. It is not complete until we receive the outer baptism of water. Communion is inner, spiritual union with God. It is not complete until we outwardly partake of the bread and the wine. In the same way, brotherly love is the inner, spiritual union of brothers and sisters in Christ. It is not complete until we clasp our hands, embrace one another with our arms, and share our outward possessions in Christian community. Where such a materialization of love takes place, the true Gospel of the kingdom has been preached.
Oneness cannot remain simply an interior experience. It is true that the Kingdom of God is within us but the reason it is within us is so it can be expressed by us and in so doing bring the kingdom of God is brought to earth and thus fulfills the prayer of Jesus. “Thy kingdom come thy will be done on EARTH LIKE it is in heaven”. Lord it is my heart to have your will done on earth. It is my desire to yield my will and make you Lord of my life both internally and externally. Until this becomes a reality for God’s people the Lord will never be able to return. He only returns for the Bride who HAS MADE HERSELF READY. How did she make herself ready? A garment called Holiness was placed inside of her by her Bridegroom Jesus she took that Garment called Holiness and decided to live in it – it was this Holiness that she clothed herself in thus brining what was inside of her outside. The Internal Garment called Holiness when put on is called The Garment of Righteousness. This is how a people make themselves ready – A people who Christ dwells in- put on Christ!
Rev.19:6-8 Then I heard the sound of massed choirs, the sound of a mighty cataract, the sound of strong thunder: Hallelujah!
The Master reigns,
our God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Let us celebrate, let us rejoice
let us give him the glory!
The Marriage of the Lamb has come;
his Wife has made herself ready.
She was given a bridal gown
of bright and shining linen.
The linen is the righteousness of the saints. (The Message)
What kind of people are we who possess such a awesome life within us to do? Are we just waiting to be freed by death from this flesh we now live in or are we striving to hear and live in the life we have been given and thus overcome life in the flesh?
Rom.13:11-14 But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about! (The Message)