*** This article is part of a blog series by some of us meeting together in an organic expression of the church. The introduction to the series is here. Other contributors are listed at the bottom of this article. This series is not based in theory or rhetoric and is not an attempt to “teach”. Our hope is simply to point to Christ as All in All and to share real life experiences of those who are living together in this way. ***
The life of the church flows from Christ’s life in us, not from our activity.
This sounds obvious, right? It’s all about Jesus. Yes, of course.
Except that it is not. It’s often about many other things, and we don’t even realize it much of the time. We’ve made a commitment to Jesus (got saved, answered an altar call, said the sinner’s prayer, confessed Christ as Lord, or whatever you prefer to call it) and now it is time to get on with being a good Christian and doing church stuff. Or so we’re told.
I humbly confess that I spent most of my life with this view of what it means to be Christian.
But does “doing church” and “being good” really sound like what Jesus called us to?
If He called us to something else, what is it?
When I ventured down this path of “organic church” (I’ll define that a little more later) it was hard to give up the priorities that I had placed on other things. It was actually difficult to make Christ the most important thing in my life because I was so wrapped up in the other things! I was consumed with studying the scriptures and knowing “proper” doctrine (which changes with the group you meet with), learning what rules I should live by (again, these change with the group) and trying to correct my behavior, taking part in church services, serving in a church ministry, learning what my spiritual gifts are, evangelizing the lost, getting my children involved in church activities, and so on.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to learn together and experience with a group of believers what it really does mean to make Christ the center of our lives and the center of the church.
In our church, we do our best to hold onto Christ as our Life and our Head, willing to go wherever that takes us. We seek to give Him room to work in us and through us. We are far from perfect and still have so much to learn as we mature together. I pray that we continue to keep Christ as Head and at the center of it all.
This willingness to yield to Christ together, to lay down our agendas and aspirations, to listen and rest in Him, and to follow His leading as it is brought forth through the body makes it very difficult to describe what we are doing at any particular time. We don’t have a list of ministries, programs, or financial campaigns. We have a Person, and He is our vision and goal.
How do we keep Christ as the center?
I recently adapted the opening lines of the Star Trek franchise as follows:
Christ: the final frontier. These are the voyages of His Ekklessia. Its eternal mission: to explore endless new worlds in Him, to seek out new life and a new civilization, to boldly go where the old man could never go before.
Our church seeks to explore Christ together and express Him to each other. We explore Christ through all of life, as He can be seen in all things and all circumstances (Romans 1:20). We meet together during the week to behold Him and seek Him together. We read the scriptures and find Him there (Luke 24:27-32). We meet together as a church weekly and express to each other what He has revealed to us.
We seek to know our Lord. He is a living and active Being, and while He can’t necessarily be seen or felt physically, He can be known. He desires to be known and to be loved by His bride.
“There is scarcely a soul that seeks You, that loves and knows You.” – Michael Molinos
How lonely our Lord must be among all of this activity that is done in His name, yet is often a distraction from resting in Him and dwelling in His sweet presence. (Even good activities can distract us from knowing Him.) I like to read biographies. You can learn a great deal about someone this way, but you can never know them as a real person simply by reading about them. To have a relationship, to have fellowship, there must be more.
Does this mean that we just sit around and talk about Jesus?
Heavens, no! I have learned that seeking to know the Lord in an inward and intimate way allows Him to reveal Himself more fully through my spirit (think of it as exercising an internal organ) than my mind could ever comprehend. It is in this deep spiritual place where true revelation from the Lord is given, for revelation by definition does not originate in man, but in God.
I have also learned that this revelation leads to a choice. Every single time. And the choice is this: will I choose my will or His will? His will may seem difficult to me at times, but it is always in line with God’s good, unchanging purposes, and usually against my fleshly desires. When we choose to live according to His will as it is revealed to us, we are living by His indwelling life.
As we learn Christ together in this way, we begin to consider ourselves less and love others more. We have more peace. We find joy in times of abundance and despite times of suffering. We do crazy things to help others. We come to know each other and treat each other as family. We share Christ with various people in our lives, often in deed, sometimes with words. We reject legalism and traditions that inprison the Spirit of Christ. I am learning this as a pattern (not a blueprint) that follows Christ’s life. Where He is Head and all things are submitted to Him, the fruits of the Spirit naturally blossom and the fragrance of Christ is known.
Out of this relationship with Christ, the activity that He truly desires can be expressed through His body naturally and in season.
But activity without relationship doesn’t lead to much of anything except exhaustion. If you don’t believe that, think about your marriage, or ask someone who is married. Activity is not what makes the marriage flourish; it is the relationship, the deep knowing and longing for another person. This is what “quality time” is really about. I’ve often heard couples say that they just feel like “roommates”, implying that a deeper connection is not being pursued. The longer a couple goes on keeping up with activities without resting and enjoying each other, the more the relationship suffers. So it is with Christ and His bride.
Activities, programs, gifts, knowledge, buildings are not our center. Nor is meeting in a home, rejecting authority, or criticizing other Christians or institutions. None of these things will produce an organic expression of the church.
Our center is not found in the external trappings of religion, but in the inward spirit where the Holy Spirit resides in us. The center and foundation of our community is knowing Christ together through intimate, spiritual fellowship with Him, expressing Him to each other, and following the revelation of Himself that He imparts to us (living by His indwelling life).
All else flows from this, as He guides us. At least, this is my experience.
May we have eyes to see Him, ears to hear Him, and hearts burning to know Him.
A good definition of organic church.
Living by the indwelling life of Christ. Also here. And here.
Other Bloggers in this Series (And Post Dates):
R.C. Babione (2/29/12)
Brigette Babione (2/8/12)
Jackie Dukes (2/1/12)
Marc Hardy (1/25/12)
Mark Lake (1/18/12)
Seth Roach (2/15/12)
Carrie Walters (2/22/12)
Michael Young (1/11/12)