Years ago I noticed a statement by Dr Gordon Moyes. He said, ‘Christianity is not a religion. It is a person.’ He meant the person of Jesus of course. Paul made the same affirmation when he spoke of Christ our life as the glory of human beings. The Kingdom of God is either Christ in us and as us or it is a disappointment and a charade.
There are contractions of the gospel of the Kingdom and its joy by communities and swathes of Believers who have accepted the religious notion that it is all about morality. And so they become absorbed in right behaviours like sexual purity and anti-abortion. They oppose homosexuality and along with it, marriage equality – as though this is godliness. But it’s not. It’s living from the knowledge of good and evil with Jesus help. But Christ is our life in the micro and the macro.
Jesus did not propagate a moral agenda. He offered life to the full. Perverse habits, degraded lives and socially accepted evils are dissolved not by railing against them or through condemning the sinner. But by drawing all into His fellowship and His life.
Sure, I believe waiting for one’s wedding night is a good thing. I see fornication as degrading, adultery as family destroying and homosexuality as subversive of the image of God in the family. But the essence of the gospel of the Kingdom is life in Jesus name. It’s not at all about ‘not sinning.’ But it is entirely about the God-head incarnated in you!
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ John 10.10 NIV.
Fortunately, Jesus came to save sinners. He is full of grace and truth. He is the exact image of our Father and the ultimate demonstration of what it means to say ‘God is love.’
‘Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ Rom 8.1-4 NIV.
To walk according to the Spirit is to have Jesus life as yours. He lives in you, walks His life in you and releases His purity and grace into your being. Thus you become a fountain of spirit and life.
Jesus is the way to a full life. He is our full life. He is our real life and the life of all the people in the world. We can have this life just by asking for it. Actually it is already ours, but we need to possess it by saying, ‘Jesus come in to my being and be my life.’ Once you do this you will never be the same. You can leave behind your mechanical Christian life. Jesus will enter your being. Father and Holy Spirit will come with Him and their holy presence will drive out all degrading habits and fill your person with joy and well-being.
Yesterday I read a first person account of a young woman and her purity ring. But the symbols and religious ploys did not deliver. How could they? She eventually succumbed. Technically she did not lose her virginity but in actuality she did have sex with her partner. Such splitting hairs is normal when we attempt to make a god out of morality rather than allowing Jesus to be our God and our life. Self-control is not found in self-effort and attempts at self-manipulation. When Christ is our life we are more able to live to our ideals. His life is being lived in us. But when we don’t we are covered by His grace. This is the scandal of the cross. We are received on account of Jesus’ performance. Not ours.
RELIGION OF MORALITY
It was obvious reading her story that her parents and those like her had made a religion out of morality, mainly personal morality at that and more to the point, sexual morality. Sex is personal and obvious. More in your face than social sins and national wickedness like economic injustice and hard-heartedness towards refugees. Humans can feel guilty about sex – even in marriage – and most of it is false guilt, as though something must be bad because it affords pleasure.
One theologian wrote that what passes for Christianity is a ‘Christianised version of the knowledge of good and evil.’ Sadly this is not the life of God or the Kingdom of Heaven among us. It’s a life in Adam with a whiff of Jesus. If we live from behaviours and morality we are living from the relativism of the knowledge of good and evil where we have no power to love or to be one with the morality we espouse. Situated in Adam when we could be in Christ we are not part of the new creation but live in the old regime un-resurrected and un-healed. Separation is not life.
This obsession with morality and living in the illusion that the Kingdom is restricted to morality makes us blind to the subtly of sin, degradation, non-life and non-love that flows from separation from God. You can live in this separation as a religious Christian if you have settled for religion rather than life, missed the essence that Christ is our life and that His life multiplied in all is the new creation. Contained in the law or some performance mode we live in separation from God in our mind even though God has drawn us into Himself in Jesus. But Jesus lives to set us free from self-deception and captivity to Satan’s veils of confusion and decay.
Her story helped me understand why many in her culture oppose abortion but are seemingly unmoved that over 300,ooo innocent civilians died because of chaos of the war in Iraq – a war begun on the basis of lies about weapons of mass destruction. Or why Christians are seemingly unmoved about the greed, deceit and sense of entitlement that precipitated the global financial crisis – where the poor eventually have been made to pay for the sins of the rich. Or why Christians deny climate change because they are addicted to a life of materialism and the illusion that happiness is secured by endless consumption of goods and services. God has no need to destroy those who destroy the earth because they are destroying it themselves.
An obsession with morality can blind us to the big issue of life which is simply this: You either live in God or you don’t. Living in religion or Christianity is not living in God. Going to church is not being ‘God-fearing.’ Honour to God is seen in receiving His son, receiving Him personally into our lives and allowing Him to be our life, our culture and the new creation reality of the Kingdom of God come to earth.
I have friends who have told me they are not interested in theology. Others who have said that they seldom read the Bible. They may as well have told me that they are not interested in knowing whether they are living in the truth or captured in a fish-bowl that is a cunningly devised fable. It’s hard to believe Christians can be so foolish or make ‘faith’ out of their ignorance.
While ‘Trumpism’ may seem to be supported by a version of Christianity this aberration is not of Christ nor supported by Christ. It has more in common with Barabbas and the spirit of anti-christ than the Kingdom begun by God’s Son. It is the kind of thing that dupes those who live from religion rather than the person of Jesus and hayseeds who have made a life out of being un-informed, not thinking and not reading anything that does not accord with their limited world view. On the contrary they are sitting ducks for conspiracy theories and perversion of the scriptures and Christ’s gospel. Such people are grist to the mill of false Messiahs like Donald Trump. You can have life, you can have insight and spiritual discernment but it takes more than praise and worship services and church attendance. We need to rightly discern the word of truth by living in Him. Then we might perceive the grossness of our sin in electing the incompetent Mr Trump to the presidency of the united states and the leader of the free world. As someone wrote recently in The Age. The greatest present threat to world peace is not Russia or China. It is the United States.
‘Without revelation people run wild, but one who listens to instruction will be happy’ Prov 29.18
‘The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth’ Rev 11.18 NIV.