Today I am pondering our position in Christ as the people of God. As I do so, I recognize three pictures of our position that we find expressive of us in Scripture: Church, Body and Bride.
As the Church, we know that a building does not a church make. We can have buildings used for the purpose of gathering, but it is not a church until the people come into it. And wherever the people gather, whether in a building designated for such, around a dinner table with family and friends, or on an isle at Walmart, we are the church, called and equipped by God to encourage the Body of Christ, equipping that Body to function as it is intended to by God. A church can only be a church where two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus.
The body of Christ is the collective of the whole of all who are His, saved by grace through faith, and surrendered to Him for the work He has planned before hand for each of us to do. Collectively we work together in the world to accomplish God’s purpose and to fulfill His ministry as light to the world, drawing others into His saving grace. We are His hands, His feet, His mouth, His spleen. Each individual member of the body has its function, but we need one another to be all God desires and fulfill all He planned. We are the body. One malfunctioning part can hinder the whole, and without the help of all, one is hindered. Thus Body and Church are dependent upon each other or we are not Body and Church.
Finally, we are the Bride of Christ. But as I ponder our relationship as Bride, I am struck by the individuality of that. Though we all make up His Bride together, our relationship with Him is dependent on our individual relationship with Him. I cannot make you a Bride and increase your intimacy with Him. It is up to you; and mine is mine alone.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but what I am seeing is this: The work of the Church is to build up and equip the Body, all working together to accomplish this. The Body is made up of all who are Bride to Christ, each individually part of the whole, all needed for full and proper function of that called “Body of Christ”. But each who are “Bride” must come into their own personal relationship with God in Christ.
We can come together as the Church and help the individual grow in their relationship with the Bridegroom, but being Bride is a personal choice and a personal, completely individualized journey for each one called “Bride”. And only when each individual of the Bride comes into their own as Bride can they function fully in their role as part of His Body and His Church.
Question: How real is God to you? How alive is His Word to your Spirit? How PRESENT is His Spirit of Power in your understanding and function? If we struggle in any of these areas, we have not yet come into our own as His Bride, able to fully and intimate relate with Him. As we come into this New Year of life, I pray the heart of Paul for us today.
“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.” (Philippians 3:8-11, AB)
In marriage, the two become one flesh. That is what this heart of Paul says to me. I want to know Him more intimately and personally with every breath of every day. Through knowledge of Him comes my resurrection to life made new, full and abundant every day; life not bound by time, but empowered by the eternal.
Such intimacy knows the heart of the Beloved, rejoicing when He rejoices, grieving when He grieves, and giving one’s all: one’s own life to see all His desires fulfilled, thus suffering in likeness to His Own. Such intimacy with the Beloved makes it possible for me to attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body. I transcend this mortal when vitally united with the Immortal.
This level of intimacy requires of us the dying to oneself Jesus spoke of when He instructed, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” ~ Luke 9:23. It is the death Paul speaks of in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Are you there yet, Beloved? Are you acutely aware of your position as Bride and sold out to “one flesh” intimacy with Him?
I have come a long way, baby. But I am not there yet, not fully. Come join me in 2015 as we seek to grow in our intimacy with Christ, to be one with Him individually so we can have power and provision needed to be the Church and fulfill our role as part with them in His Body.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” ~ Philippians 3:12-16.