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A Quiet Call to Christians (Essay)

The Gospel is not primarily a belief. It is an invitation. An invitation to meet and become an intimate friend with a Person who is both truly God and truly human and who gave his life so that we may live in the presence of God forever.

But Jesus is not just an historical figure; not even a unique Figure who performed something that nobody else could (his atoning death and resurrection). He is all of these, but he is also a very contemporary Person who stands before us now as a living figure. Beyond the Jesus of ancient history is the Jesus of the present moment; the Jesus who waits to come and dwell within our spirits and through his Holy Spirit transform us increasingly into his own image.

The Gospel is the good news that this miracle has been made possible by the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. It is also the good news that this same Jesus now waits for us to turn away from a self-centred life and toward him, by inviting him to come into our spirits in a real and vital way.

Christianity is not a religion.
It is a relationship.

A relationship between a man or woman and God in Jesus. A Christian is one who has Jesus spiritually within.

But this relationship with God is not something simply to be enjoyed by ourselves. We are saved and transformed, not simply that we may become holy people and go to Heaven when we die, but so that we may become parts of a community of people who are similarly being transformed inwardly and who, collectively, maintain the presence of Christ in the flesh within today's world. This company of genuine Christians, the church (not to be confused with any denomination, or even with the institutionalised church per se) is the Body of Christ today. In a very real sense, it is the continuation of the incarnation of Jesus down through history. Jesus Christ is the Head and the church is his Body; his corporate Body in the world. Through the church, God is involved in human society, just as Jesus was involved in human society. Society is influenced by God to the degree that all aspects of it are influenced by members of the church and to the degree that each of these church members is surrendered to the will of God. The healing of society and its transformation toward a holy and just community is, I believe, a consequence of the sanctification of the individual and the sanctifying influence of many sanctified individuals upon the broader world.

Nevertheless, the church can only be a unifying and transforming factor if it does not succumb to the divisions of human society itself. Alas, this is just what has happened. The church as a whole and the people who are its members have lost sight of the unifying vision of being the Body of Christ and have allowed the false gods of human society to usurp the place that belongs to Christ alone. Christian has become divided from Christian along the lines of race, politics, class (and sundry other "secular" divisions) as well as the peculiarly "religious" divisions of denomination, worship style, theological doctrine and so forth.

These become "gods" when they assume a greater importance than the simple but profound fact of belonging to Christ, being in him as part of his corporate Body and being indwelt by his Spirit.

All of these false gods must go. The church must spiritually unite, not necessarily by merging into a single denomination, but by awakening to a single vision ... the vision of itself as it ought to be; a vision of the church in all its sundry and diverse manifestations united in a higher unity as the Body of Christ, indwelt by the same Holy Spirit, with Christ alone as its Lord and Head. Differences (denominational and otherwise) cease to be causes of division and become manifestations of diversity within this larger unity. The church must awaken to the vision of itself as the New Jerusalem into which stream all the diverse strands of human society, merging there as the single citizenry of the Holy City. It must have the vision of this citizenry going forth into the world again, still being members of whatever race or faction they previously were, but now with this one great difference; that from henceforth they carry first and foremost the badge of a citizen of the Heavenly City. Ambassadors now of Heaven, being transformed inwardly by the continuing workings of the Holy Spirit, in the process of being moulded into the likeness of the Man from Heaven, they enter the world again, bringing with them the vision of humanity redeemed, of society transformed and of a world truly reflecting the qualities of heaven.

This is, unfortunately, not what we have today. But how do we get from today's church to the ideal? How can this great renewal occur? Is it just a dream?

I do not believe that it is just an unrealisable ideal. After all, Jesus taught his disciples to pray that the Father's will be done on earth as in Heaven. God's will is followed in Heaven totally, otherwise it would not be Heaven. And in praying what we have come to call the "Lord's Prayer", we are praying for the same to apply on earth as well. Surely Jesus would not have taught us to pray for something that would never come to pass!

Once the holiness of God is truly revealed to us, the full force of sin begins to be correctly appreciated.

A genuinely converted person feels inwardly drawn toward personal holiness. If one claims to have been converted and yet delights in some deliberate sin, something is seriously wrong. It is true that even a converted person will, at times, commit sin and it is true that Christians continue to struggle with sin, but it is not true that a genuine Christian can continue to wallow in deliberate sin. Unless holiness becomes increasingly attractive and sin increasingly distasteful following conversion, the validity of that conversion must be seriously questioned, irrespective of the intensity of sobs and fervour of promises at the penitent form.

The church and all those within it must also be clear that Jesus is their personal Lord and that allegiance to Him must come before allegiance to anything or anyone else. Christians must see themselves as individual members of the corporate Body of Christ and must be submitted to the Head and work together in the unity of the Spirit so that the will of the Head (Jesus) is carried out through the corporate Body. We must realise that in trying to put in motion our own plans for the way in which we think the church should operate, we are treating the Body as our own bodies would be treated if our limbs and organs acquired wills of their own and started operating independently of the brain. Our own bodies would tear themselves apart; so why should we expect any less disastrous result for the Body of Christ?

This does not mean, however, that we should see the existence of different denominations as an evil. Rather, we should rejoice in the variety of ways that God provides for us to express worship. If we were to regard membership of our own denomination as necessary to salvation; that would be wrong. In effect, we would be saying that our denomination, not Jesus, is the saviour. But it is equally wrong to say that all true Christians must withdraw from denominations altogether, as that too would be setting up something besides acceptance of Jesus as necessary for salvation. In seeking the unity and the growth of the Body, we also seek the unity and growth of all the local manifestations of the Body, including all existing groups and denominations of Christians who have truly been set free from sin by accepting the sacrifice of Jesus.

There are some "key" passages in the Bible that are so filled with tremendous spiritual value that all who would call themselves Christian should take time out, not just to read them, but to meditate on them and ask God to illuminate our hearts as well as our minds to their great truths.

I would ask each person reading these words to prayerfully set aside a little time each day, for five days, for the following meditations. This may be alone, or with a small group of people (maybe members of your family, or your Bible study or prayer group). The five days can be consecutive or not, whatever is most appropriate for you, but in any case, it is only a very small investment of your time that has the potential of delivering a huge spiritual dividend.

As well as this set time, I strongly urge that you frequently bring these passages and thoughts to mind during your daily routine. This is something that you should do, not just for five days, but indefinitely. Form a habit of meditating on these verses; on other Bible verses too, but constantly return to these until they become part and parcel of your mind-set. Their message will then be ˜natural' to you!

Please next see the five prayers and meditations here in this same forum:

"Quiet Call" - 5 basic Biblical meditations/prayers

This message has been edited. Last edited by: SCUW Prayer Group,

By David A. J. Seargent
Posts: 3 | Location / Country / Region: Australia | Registered: 02 December 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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