Life in Christ

Just in case you're a christian who's living without church, and you're not sure how to find healthy, positive fellowship with a functioning group of believers, I dare you to print out this two-page "guide to the basics" and pass it out in your neighborhood. It's designed to squeeze onto one page, front and back. It's also designed to be read aloud in your informal house meetings as frequently as you might desire.

If you do this, and if the response that you get lasts for more than a few months, please send me an e-mail to tell me all about just how lovely and how broken this group-sized adventure can be. What I wish for you is not merely Christ, but Christ flowing out from the Body of Christ. With the rare exception of a few "Pauls" who sometimes get exiled or thrown into prison, we are not meant to live life all by ourselves.

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Jesus Christ fulfilled the whole Jewish Law, which hung on two commandments. Then He took on the Law’s curse, being hung on the cross. Christ no longer hangs on the cross. The Law no longer hangs on our necks. But these two commandments – Loving God, Loving others – they are the very heart of God. They will always remain.

The Law came through Moses, but the Lord is the end of the Law. Jesus Christ is still pleasing God, and still bringing God’s Favor to all who believe. So, now, Christ in the Church is God’s Hope for more of what God wants – that divine glory and righteousness might flow through every woman and man who believes.

Our God is pleased with Jesus Christ and we are lost inside of Him. That’s a good thing, for us, because our righteousness is still like filthy rags, compared to His. In fact, God’s Hope is often deferred because, like Moses, we fail to maintain the re-radiance of God's Glory. But unlike Moses, we do not need to veil our failures.

There is absolutely no condemnation in Christ. His greatest mercy to us is that nothing keeps us from God’s love. We keep looking at Him. We are slowly transformed. Jesus Christ loves His Father. Jesus Christ loves our neighbors. The more we see Him doing that, the more we get used to doing what He does.

As children of God, we grow up to be more like Him. We encourage each other. We choose life over death. We stick with each other, and together, we stick with our God, through Jesus Christ. In the Spirit, the Father and Son keep on loving each other. In our spirits, together, our fellowship is with Them.

Living up to God’s Hope is not our objective. Reminding each other is not our objective. Making the right choices is not our objective. Letting his righteousness flow is not our objective. Obedience to his two commandments is not our objective. Confession, repentance and renewal are not our objectives. All of those are just byproducts.

God is our objective. Christ has made the way clear to God, who walks with us in Spirit. Being with Him, together, is more valuable than anything else in the world. Being with Him means more to Him than anything else that we may or may not have fully grown into yet. The Father lets us grow into His Life, because we are His.

There is one thing we need. There is one hope we have. There is one goal for us. There is one thing to do. There is One who is Holy. There is One who loves God. There is One who fulfills everything. That One carries us, still. He is All. He is Love. We have Him. HE is Lord.

He is far beyond patient with each one of us. We should be so patient with ourselves, and each other. When we know the Risen Carpenter as well as he knew his own Heavenly Father, then all will be right. Children learn all things by staying close to their parents. The Father takes care of the teaching. The growing takes care of itself.

Focus on God. Behold Jesus Christ. Get into the Spirit. The rest works out, s  l  o  w  l  y.

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Keep doing whatever you’re doing, if you’re finding God in it. Stop doing things that do not bring you closer to Him. Two people doing the same things may have two different responses to this. Let those who continue, continue. Let those who stop doing find new things to do that help them focus on God.

None of us ever do “nothing”. If you sit still and fast for twelve hours a day, that is what you are doing. Doing is natural. Doing is not the enemy. Religion is not the enemy. Overactive people are not the enemy. Immature people are not the enemy. Zealous people are not the enemy. Self is the enemy. Do. Just find God in your doings.

Feed the poor. Or don’t. Save the lost. Or don’t. Study the Bible. Or don’t. Preach the Gospel. Or don’t. Raise a family. Or don’t. Fast and pray for a mission. Or don’t. Everything has a season. Just do something that brings you closer to Jesus Christ in his ways. We need Him and we need each other. The rest is negotiable.

Large assemblies will always be impersonal. Small gatherings will always have peculiar weak areas. Just as God patiently works with each one of his children, God can work with a group of believers. The church can be much more than most of us know, but will always be less than what each of us wants. We are all growing, s  l  o  w  l  y.

If God asks you to sacrifice, sacrifice. If anyone else demands anything, respond kindly, and then do as you wish. We are commanded to love God and love others. We are not commanded to obey anyone else on the earth. We learn to find God and go along with His desires. God may or may not want you to submit to some fellow believer or other, sometimes.

Brothers and sisters – together – whatever you do, do it all out of love, with forgiveness and mercy. Remember how much you know you still need mercy, and it will not be as hard to show mercy. Remember how much God puts up with, from you, and it should be a bit easier to put up with each other. We will burden each other. We will.  It is still better than being alone.

If no one among you is blessed with the wisdom required for some season, then wait. Yes, wait for the Lord. Struggle and hang there, like the Lord on the Cross. But do not hang each other with expectations. We will fail to love God enough. We will fail to love each other enough. The survival of a gathering depends on One person. He must be enough.

Jesus Christ, in a church, pleases God. Jesus Christ, in a church, spreads God’s Favor among his brothers and sisters. Jesus Christ, in a church, can bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. Jesus Christ, in a church, is the most excellent way. Show Him to each other, and you all will stand firm to the end.

But if you are only one person, reading this, and if you do not know what to do, or who to turn to, then here is a simple suggestion. Print this on paper. Mail it to everyone in your neighborhood or give it to everyone at a nearby Sunday school class. And then pray this prayer, daily: “Lord, bring your people to me, and help me find your people.” When they show up, confess that you don’t know a lot. Then remember how much that’s really true... and let it move you to pray.

Focus on finding the Lord… all, together.

Then work the rest out with God, in Christ... s  l  o  w  l  y.
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"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

-- Isaac Newton