This morning I chose to revisit a book from which I had received much revelation and life. I’m talking of a work written by the perceptive and well informed Gregory A Boyd, entitled Repenting of Religion - Turning From Judgment To The Love Of God. Well may we repent of ‘religion’ because religion is is not what Jesus initiated and not the Kingdom of God. I read a treatise once in ‘support of religion’ by an acquaintance. Mary, not her real name, was low on spiritual discernment then and has not improved since. Mary, as a product of a law-culture, is a child of religion and its knowledge of good and evil mode of thought. In this mode - the mode of the first part of life and the old covenant state of non-rebirth - we can offer up knowledge that is neither spirit and life or what Jesus is saying in the moment. PIECE OF RELIGION In this state of being we are able to present a piece of religion to fill any ecclesiastical opportunity. It is seldom revelation to others unless favoured by a particular intervention of grace. To do and say only what Jesus and Father are doing now we need to be living in what God has already done over 200o years ago. He has united human life, the life of God, the life of heaven and earth in Himself. This is the new covenant. The new and living way where dualism is at an end and union with God is the mode of the Kingdom of God. One with God we exude spirit and life and are always relevant to His current message. ‘Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does’ John 5.19 NIV. The inmates of ‘good and evil plus Jesus’ culture can be hostile to any critique of religion. This is what they live from. This is the air they breathe and the food they eat. They will often accuse those who call them to leave behind religion as being judgmental. But living from the law or christianity is not what Jesus began. What He began is His life as yours. Christ in you and Christ as you is the expression of the Kingdom. A knowledge of good and evil culture produces a lesser christ, a false christ and an arbitrary morality lacking spiritual discernment. For many christianity is moralism. But is it human moralism. For Jesus and for the Kingdom it is Christ our life. HIS LIFE AS YOU The first thing that caught my eye was a quote at the start of the book. By Dietrich Bonhoeffer, it said, ‘Jesus calls men not to a new religion, but to life.’ How simple, how profound and so aligned with Jesus’ message and life. The new covenant is not an adaption of the old testament. It is a radically new departure. In religion we may be zealous, pious, industrious and informed but never alive. Jesus’ ‘message’ is not so much a message as His life as you! The next piece of wisdom that my eyes fell on was this: ‘Large segments of the body of Christ mistake their judgment - their eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - to be the Kingdom of God.’ But it is not. It is the kingdom of religion with a Jesus addition. And not always the Christ of God added. But our construction that is a false christ of our own making. Tragically, many promote the knowledge tree - the essence of the fall - as though it were what Jesus began. I wish this were uncommon but it is the bane of Christianity - the mistaken view that Christianity is a framework of morals, actions and beliefs. Well, it would be if we were still dead branches of the knowledge tree. But we are sons of God and the expression their trinitarian life. Similarity in difference is the essence of trinitarian life. And it is the model of marriage, family and church community.
HOLY AS GOD IS HOLY Love is not love. God is love. Christ our life is not liberty to steal, rip people off, avoid paying taxes or leave to abuse and murder. Neither does grace liberate us to live as degraded people in fornication, adultery, homosexuality and sexual perversion. Freedom to degrade ourselves is not freedom but bondage. Grace is the door to Christ our life - a life in which we are the expression of Jesus.
Judgment, supposedly spoken in love is the mode of some of the rants against Muslims and homosexuals. Nevertheless, God is against degradation and sin’s self-harm. He is against perversion and the diminishing of His image in us. But His solution is not a moral crusade. The solution is His Son. In Him is life and that life is the life of all men and all women. Jesus is concerned with good morals. He expresses Himself in right beliefs. But the essence of His Kingdom is that HE IN HIMSELF IS OUR LIFE and that He brings this life with Him to live in us by the Spirit. Grace and transformation comes from Christ our life. We are the manifestation of Christ. Those who have the Son have life. Those who do not have the Son do not have life. This is why those who live in Christianity rather than in Jesus support death in the name of freedom. Death is anything that is not the fullness of our life in Christ. Our life in God is unambiguously LIFE. Whether we impart life or not depends on the choice we have made. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. But neither is there degradation and perversion. The essence of His Kingdom is Christ our life which means life without limit. CHRISTIAN RELATIVISM IN THE NAME OF GOD Is our life in religion and the need to be moral and do good deeds? Or is our life the person of the Son in us and through us? If the latter we are life itself. In the of former we are not. In the former we make up our morality as we go. Here we can be arbitrary and spasmodic and imagine ourselves credible. We may find ourselves giving our blessing to marriage equality yet obsessing over old covenant observances like the Sabbath. This is typical of the disjunction lived in both life and death. Jesus called this swatting at gnats and swallowing camels. But we do not release rivers of Kingdom life. In Christ we are alive in the Kingdom and discerning in the Spirit. In our life and through our actions we express Jesus and heaven has touched earth. There is no dichotomy between Jesus and a pure and upright life. In Christ we will be His life. To see Jesus is to see you. You are the manifestation of Jesus Christ. ‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.