Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Missing Ingredient!

I was reminiscing the other Sunday, with the brethren, about my quest for holy living for almost my entire life. I grew up listening to the constant drum beat of "be ye holy, for I am holy" and "holiness without which no man shall see God." (Let me stop here and say emphatically that I am all for holy living). The carrot that was offered was "heaven" and the stick was "missing the rapture", "the great tribulation" and eventually "the lake of fire." I tried very hard to follow all the rules and commandments, made the best effort to keep every sin, intentional and unintentional, confessed. But the goal post always seemed to be elusive and the standard unreachable. Even though I put on a "holy" face, I knew in my heart that it was such a big burden to obey all the laws and commandments and keep every single sin of thought, word and deed confessed and I wasn't doing a good job at it. I tried to compare myself with others and console myself that I wasn't a big sinner as some others were. But my Christian life was like running on a treadmill, running hard but getting nowhere and honestly I was getting frustrated.

But thanks be to the Lord, that He opened my eyes to see that I could "never" live this holy life by my efforts. He also gave me a glimpse of how much He loved me and how much I was forgiven - not because I was a "good" Christian or was good at keeping my sins confessed, but rather while I was yet a sinner, He loved me and died for me. He saw me in my most wretched condition and yet He chose me. Now the words of Jesus, "but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little" made sense to me. This revelation of how much I was forgiven and loved by Him caused me to fall in love with Him as never before. What was the result of this love relationship? - I started living holier "accidentally" and "effortlessly" than I ever did by my efforts, trying to escape hell. No wonder Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." I found out experientally that "love fulfills the law ."

Moreover, I found out that I was already holy, not by my holy living, but because He had washed me and made me holy and the Holy One had taken up residence in me. Now, the exhortations in the New Testament for holy living started making sense to me - "you are in light, so walk as children of light" and "walk worthy of your calling." In other words, live out who you are. You are holy, therefore live holy. All my life I was trying to put the cart before the horse. I was trying to live holy to "become" holy, not knowing that holy living was to be a fruit of my being holy. Not only that I was trying to do it in my strength, not knowing that the only Person (Jesus) who could live holy was now living in me.

Dear one, can you see the subtle difference between living under the drudgery of legalistic religion and living in true holiness? It is a simple yet subtle difference of either being on the treadmill of "becoming" holy by holy living or living holy because you are already holy. It is so simple that it is very easy to miss it, but if you get it, it will change your walk with the Lord forever.

So what was the missing ingredient in my quest for holy living? T'was Love! Say "Yes" to love and "No" to fear, because fear has torment, but perfect love casts out fear!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some benefits of Organic Church Life

We met with the brethren today and had a wonderful time sharing Christ with each other. One of the things that we are experiencing and realizing more of is the benefits of meeting organically under the Headship of Christ.

Each person has the freedom to express Christ creatively in their own way. One such form of creative expression is through writing new Christocentric songs or adding new verses to or modifying existing songs.

Since Christ is a multi-membered Person, He is expressed fully when every member functions by sharing and participating as opposed to one-man preaching a sermon. It is akin to how a person is not made up of just one part of the body, but all the parts of the body together.

Overfunctioning or underfunctioning of certain members of the body leads to atrophy or weakness in the underfunctioning members and abnormal growth in the overfunctioning members thereby affecting the overall well-being of the body.

Since Christ speaks through different members, the chances of erring in doctrine or teaching is minimized drastically as opposed to a large institution or sect where doctrines are handed down by a few elite people or a person. Even if there is a chance of error in an organic church it is confined locally to the group and not widespread as in the case of denominations, sects or institutions where huge masses of people could possibly be led into error.

Most of the New Testament exhortations of "one-anothering" like bearing one-another's burdens, edifying one another, loving one another etc can be lived out in a small community of believers.

Since there is no room to hide in an organic church, you are exposed and very vulnerable. You can't but share your life with your brethren and therefore open up yourself to the possibility of getting offended or offending others. It is here where the instrument of the cross can be allowed to work in your life to conform you to the image of Jesus. It is here where your flesh gets exposed and you learn to put it off and put on Christ and live by His life. You see the fruit of the Spirit - patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, love and other virtues develop in you by the Spirit. In short, this is the natural habitat for the believer where one grows and matures into the fullness and stature of Christ. This rarely happens without living in the community of brothers and sisters.

In short, you see DNA of the Trinity in the local church (ekklesia), since she came out of Jesus' side and lives by His life. You see the fellowship, mutual love, submission, sharing of life, laying down of life between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, manifest in the local ekklesia.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tower of Babel (TOB) vs City of New Jerusalem (CONJ)

1. TOB built by 'dead' bricks, CONJ built by 'living' stones.

2. Bricks - man's handiwork, Living stones - God's handiwork.

3. TOB - man's effort to reach heaven, CONJ - result of God reaching out to man.

4. TOB - man made religious organizations/institutions, CONJ - the ekklesia of Christ

5. TOB - dwelling place of man, CONJ - dwelling place of God.

6. TOB - anthropocentric, CONJ - Christocentric

7. TOB - mystery of iniquity, CONJ - mystery of Godliness

8. TOB - Babylonion system (worldly system), CONJ - Heavenly system

9. TOB - wordly kingdoms, CONJ - heavenly kingdom.

10. TOB - legalism, CONJ - Grace.

11. TOB - headed, controlled and led by man through heirarchical authority, CONJ - headed by Christ alone through every member of His body functioning.

12. TOB - community disintigerated, CONJ - community formed.

13. TOB - Division, CONJ - Oneness/Unity.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Born to be wild

So, we went to a wild life safari recently and the animals in captivity reminded me of the message shared by Milt Rodriguez at Threshold 2011. It was pathetic to see these animals living in an artificial habitat, lying around motionless, not hunting or being the wild animals that they are supposed to be - a case of lost or mistaken identity as a result of being in captivity. They wait for the humans to bring their food. At one point when the elephants saw the white striped truck approaching them, they ran towards it knowing that they were going to be fed. The elephants munched on the "pre-packaged, processed food" that the humans threw at them. Humans have tried their best to create a habitat for these animals, but everything smells of human there, nothing like the wild. The lions that are supposed to live in a group called a 'pride', now live in isolation. They perhaps have lost their natural instincts and forgot the smell of a live prey. They have forgotten what it is like to go on a prowl, crouch upon the prey and make a kill, and bring back the meat to be shared with the pride. Since they do not have to run after the prey, their muscles have probably atrophied. Since they get "ready made" food, they probably, have become lazy. Folks, they were born to be wild.

My story, as a christian, when I was in captivity, is similar to the story of these lions. I was in the institutional church setting, pretty domesticated. Little did I know that I belonged to the 'pride' of the Lion of Judah (although I had head-knowledge of it). I did not have to hunt for my 'food' - Jesus, since I was expecting to be 'fed' every Sunday morning. I got 'processed and prepared food' thrown into my mouth, with no effort required on my part. Since I didn't have to move a finger to get my food, I became quite lazy and my muscles atrophied. I began losing my spiritual instincts and started forgetting and losing my identity. I had been tamed, domesticated and institutionalized. As a lion, I was supposed to be living in a pride or a community of believers, but I found myself living a solitary Christian life. The only contact I had with the kind of my own was for a few minutes before and after the 'service' which was limited to handshakes. After that I was on my own. I did not know how to find my food and share it (share Christ) with my pride, since there was no pride at all. I did not see how I could do the 50 or more "one anothering" in the New Testament, like carry "one another's" burden in this artificial environment. I thought I was living in the right habitat, but little did I realize that it did not smell like the wild, but it smelled of 'humans', the work of man's hands. Little did I realize that little by little I was being stripped of my identity as a 'royal priest' and my spiritual instincts being suppressed.

But thank God, He opened my eyes to see that I was 'born to be wild'(singing 'born to wild - steppenwolf now). I was to live in the wild, my Canaan land, a land where there is abundance of food, my inheritance - Jesus Christ. I was to live in my natural habitat, the ekklesia, hunting down my food -Jesus Christ and sharing it with my brethren in the ekkesia. I was to live a shared life with my brethren, in the same pattern of sharing that goes one between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Trinity - a life of shared love, life, fellowship, communion, relationship. Since then my muscles are slowing gaining strength. I'm honing my hunting skills with my brethren. Our 'pride' needs help to be rehabilitated in the wild fully. I pray that the Lord will bring 'special lion handlers', the apostolic workers, to do just that.

P.S. Milt Rodriguez is an apostolic worker, who co-labors with Frank Viola, Jon Zens and Alan Levine.

THE NAKED GOSPEL - Andrew Farley

Please download this book for FREE by clicking here. You can also buy a copy for yourself by clicking here. It is a MUST read for every Christian! As Andrew puts it, it is "Jesus plus nothing. 100% natural. No additives.It's the truth you may never hear in church. The Naked Gospel is a chapter-by-chapter assault on the churchy jargon and double talk of our day. It puts forth a message that is simple but life-changing. With a fresh take on Scripture and unapologetic style, The Naked Gospel will challenge you to re-examine everything you thought you already knew."