Get the Real Thing!
Saturday Night, April 14, 2001
It is all pretty obvious that there are some major difficulties in modern christendom. To understand our world and our place in it, we should ponder a few things. Where are the pitfalls? How did all the trouble and division come in? Here is a huge part of the answer to that question: Our definitions need to be defined by God rather than culture, convenience, or sympathy. Having drifted in our definitions, we have then drifted far, far from His Quality of Life. Let’s consider together a very simple thought that it seems may be needed to guide understanding of what is, and is not “Christianity.” And all of this is NOT about being critical or skeptical! Shame on anyone who drinks of the bitter cup of judgment rather than the cup of discernment. His redemptive heart calls us not to hate, despise, or ridicule, but rather to use discernment of problems as a way to participate with the Master in His Work. He “longs to gather as a hen gathers her chicks.”
If we do desire to be helpful, we must have Understanding…
To some, “christianity” is a belief system. They consider a “christian”—themselves, and then anyone who embraces a philosophy of one God, Jesus dying for their sins, and a few other basic beliefs. And then, of course, they should “attend” something, too.
Jesus Himself shot a hole in that thought process. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord!’…but I will say to them, ‘Depart from Me; I never knew you.’” Obviously, these active, religious people are not saved, according to Jesus. Though He says they will clearly be a part of the “christian culture,” and know the teachings and do good deeds, He does not have a relationship with them, nor will they be Saved. “But we ate and drank with You, and You taught in our streets!” (Mat. 7; Lk. 13).
Some are sure that “leading the good christian life” (being a nice person, not breaking any big commands, doing good deeds, feeding the poor, “attending church” and the like) means that they are Christians. Clearly, by the Teachings of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, there is a “broad road to destruction” filled with such people. Believing the correct things, “attending” something, and being “a good person” is NOT what GOD says makes one a Christian.
So, what is a Christian? What is Christianity? What is a “Church member”? Consider an analogy.
Picture an aquatic world where every single living creature breathes under water. That is their habitat. They only “breathe” what is dissolved in water, as do the fish. Their food source and life basis is only related to what is under water. Now picture a tadpole or polliwog, a creature who has lived totally under water his entire life, up to that point. Then, a miracle takes place—a metamorphosis, where he is no longer a water breather. Of course, this is known in biology as “metamorphosis.” It is a radical, permanent change from one order of life to another, from one habitat and source of existence to one radically other.
True Christianity is where “from the least to the greatest,” a METAMORPHOSIS has taken place. “Upon this Rock, I will build My Church!” God even chose the Greek word for metamorphosis to describe the Miracle that must happen to ALL whom He Receives as His Own. As surely as the tadpole no longer is a water breather, but crawls up into a new world and begins to breathe air, and as surely as a caterpillar sheds the slimy life of a ground crawler and spreads his beautiful wings to catch the wind and fly away…THIS is a picture, fashioned by God of the radical transformation from the kingdom of darkness, to the Kingdom of the Beloved Son.
This is, and must be, true of every single person who is truly Saved! It is “upon THIS Rock” alone that Jesus builds a Life and a Church. There must be a confrontation and a supernatural, discernible transaction between the Father and a human that “flesh and blood did not reveal,” “not of human decisiveness, or inheritance from humans, or of peer pressure and supply, but of GOD.” These Miracles of change from “mere men” to “more than Conquerors” are not simply “theoretical”! It is not simply a new philosophical belief system, a new set of buddies to hang out with for “meetings,” and a different lifestyle and vocabulary. True Christianity is a miracle of Life, empowered by the resurrection Life and Power of Jesus Christ coming now to live INSIDE of each person TRULY born a second time. Anything less is a counterfeit, a non-Christian, and NOT a member of His Church! At least they are not so, YET!!
Cultural christianity embraces “belief system,” or “good lifestyle” and “attendance,” and accepts anyone and everyone at face value. “If you SAY you’re a Christian, you are.” Wrongola! That’s not Helpful! True Christianity is only for those who have had a discernible miraculous change happen inside of them. They now no longer breathe water. They now breathe Air, the Wind of Heaven as their LIFE! They no longer crawl, but now FLY! And so it is, according to the Messiah Himself, “FOR ALL WHO (TRULY) BELIEVE!” Now, “seated with Christ in Heavenly Realms,” “tasting the Powers of the Coming Age,” with “Rivers of Living Water streaming from within.” “Now THIS is Eternal Life—that they may have intimate inner knowledge of You, the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom You’ve sent!”
A person is not a walking miracle of metamorphosis because they say they are. A person is not saved because they “grew up in the church,” or believe the right things, or live a certain lifestyle. It is the other way around! IF they are truly Saved, and therefore a member of His Church, the miracle speaks for itself! If there is no evident miracle, then it doesn’t matter what one may think he or she believes, or how good their lifestyle may be. The proof is in the “DEPOSIT” (Eph. 1:14; Col. 1:27), not in wishful thinking or even in sincerity. What God sees and responds to is all that matters. “What counts is a New Creation.” IF the miracle of the Godhead dwelling within is there, then (and only then!) there has been true conversion. If the evidence of a Life that breathes Heaven’s Air (instead of this world’s way of breathing) is evident—and the Gift of flying is infused—we have true conversion.
Human emotion, human sentiment, human relationships, human effort, human intellect, religious superstition, fairy tales and drama are common counterfeits. True Conversion and Realm Translation and Metamorphosis are the very nature of the New Agreement, the New Covenant. Hold out for yourself, and for others, for the REAL! Only the supernaturally, authentically re-created are Christians, and true “members” of His Church. Who are we to contradict Jesus? If we welcome those without true conversion, allowing them to think they ARE saved and “members” just because they say they are, and show up at a “service,” we’re not serving God well. That’s just naïve and not helpful to them or to God! We can do better than that, as His Ambassadors, if we approach others with Mercy, Truth, Understanding, and Discernment in daily love and relationship.
So, if a person is truly converted by Encounter and abandonment—now with the Creator Himself living inside of them—they’ll instantly be perfect and mature, right? NO, never. Re-Birth into another Realm doesn’t mean that the tadpole will get everything right the moment he turns into a frog. : ) Childhood takes its toll, sometimes! The one who is now miraculously breathing Air instead of water will have some challenges. He or she won’t automatically and instantly know how to live like a Prince or Princess kissed by the King! (1Jn. 5:20-21).
We’ll still find ourselves feeling a bit like a frog at times. Am I right??!! : ) But, we’ll know the difference because we are, as Peter said, “conscious of God.” And that should bring great encouragement to us when we are struggling—we know He’s calling! (1Jn. 5:13-21). HE is able to keep you from falling and present you spotless before the Glorious Throne! We know we’re going to be okay even in our struggles; if He’s committed—and we Know He is in our inner man (not just as an external theory based on Scripture memory) (1Jn. 5:1-12). The metamorphosis has clearly changed everything about what a Saved one desires to “breathe” and “eat.” “Like newborn babes, they CRAVE pure Spiritual milk.”
Transformation of kingdoms (Col. 1:13) changes even how he or she interprets events, failures, pain, and success. Their life-giving habitat has been totally transformed to something “new every morning” in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth, the new and revolutionary love of their Life! Now, anything that is not “from Him, and through Him, and to Him” has no more appeal (1Jn. 3:9; 1Pet. 4:1-6; Rom. 8:5-11). And recovery from even the worst difficulties is a matter of the powerful, unbending Hope of that empty grave, and the great comfort and promises of the One who fills everything in every way!
When we build around cultural definitions of “christian” and “church” rather than around the Evidence of Supernatural LIFE, we will soon reap a harvest of half-bred and incestuous, mutant and diseased circumstances. This leaven will create whirlwinds and energy leaks and heartache and confusion galore. With all of that will come temptations to compromise and ignore Principles and Commands of God’s Word in order to “hold things together.” Hierarchy, program, choreography and other man-made intrusions and defiance of Command will enter in, to keep peace and “order” in the meetings and method. “A little leaven leavens the WHOLE batch,” according to the Master.
Everyone is harmed by false “definitions” of God’s Stuff, and by unBiblical building practices—based on human traditions, human reason, and human organizational structure. When we build men’s way, souls are lost, teens’ lives are trashed (75%+), marriages are destroyed (60%+), and relationships are frequently left devastated. Beyond all of that, Spiritual babyhood is perpetuated forever in the majority of folks within man-made ways to “have church.” Chaos, heartache, clergy hierarchy, and more…all of these flow from having mis-defined what a Christian is, what a Church is, and what a “leader” is. And all of this occurs, whether in a “house church” or an “institutional church” when we define things improperly.
The Call is then to function as Priests, “admonishing one another daily” in life and love and liberty, with creativity and joy and peace.
Let’s look for the MIRACULOUS LIFE of GOD, “the working of this same power that rose Jesus Christ from the dead!” as the definition of what GOD has Touched and Saved. It is far more than belief system (though this will need to grow to be Right as well) or lifestyle (though this also will be dramatically altered by the hand of God, if HE is involved).
With True “Zoe” Life in Christ, rightly defined and non-negotiable, we can then help others by serving our God well. We will live, as our big Brother does, to extend His Love and Truth, looking to HIM as Source, and Life, and Way.
Zoe Life? It is the “New Deal” (“New Testament”—“New Covenant”) Father has made with His People in His Son. The gates of hell will continue to prevail against the impotence of all else. He has for us something better! The current, the tangible, the supernatural…the very Life of Jesus within: Accept No Substitutes!