What is Church? Let me give the short answer. Church IS the Lord Jesus Christ, in substance Himself in all fullness, in appearance as many in weakness. The Church is One Person for real – the Lord Jesus. This One Person, the Church, APPEARS as many persons in outward form, yet at no point is any tiny particle of the Church, any least little member, anything other than the Person of Jesus. We ARE His body, the visible appearance of His Person, and members in particular.
Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die it abides alone. But if it die, it brings forth much fruit. John 12:24
It is true that we are light in this world and in the church; our desire to know God turns the lights on. Light and truth are for showing things as they are, exposing what IS.
Thus, this series, in exploring the meaning of “Church” in the context of defeating the Nicene Creed, must ask the most basic of questions. We have asked, “What is God,” What is Man,” “What is Christ Jesus,” but we have failed to ask the most pertinent question.
What Is? – Light reveals what IS. To expose means to place things out where they can be seen.
What Is? – If we are caused to see all things as they really are, what do we see?
If I look at myself, at my flesh, to see myself as I really am, in all honesty of heart and sobriety of conscience what do I see? If I look at you, at your flesh, to see you as you really are, in all honesty of heart and sobriety of conscience what do I see?
What IS? – I'm actually trying to get right at “What is Church?”
The Nicene Creed says this: “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” That's good as far as it goes, but words on paper and ideas in the brain are not real. Only Spirit reality is real, that is, God in Person here and now, and only what God actually says.
What is Church? Let me give the short answer.
Church IS the Lord Jesus Christ, in substance Himself in all fullness, in appearance as many in weakness.
The Church is One Person for real – the Lord Jesus.
This One Person, the Church, APPEARS as many persons in outward form, yet at no point is any tiny particle of the Church, any least little member, anything other than the Person of Jesus.
We ARE His body, the visible appearance of His Person, and members in particular.
Now, we understand the laws of physics as science. And when I say physics as science, I refer only to those practical, well-known by continual use, laws of the physical sciences.
In exactly the same way, we understand the laws of spirit as science. Just as there is no whimsical judgment in physics, so there is no whimsical judgment in spirit. If you violate the laws of physics, you die. If you violate the laws of spirit, you die. No one blames God if someone dies because they were driving drunk, tried to beat a train, and got creamed. The person violated the laws of physics and suffered the consequences. There was nothing “personal” taking place.
The laws of spirit are the same.
Many of the things Jesus said in particular were not religious, but scientific. The HUGE misconception of religion is that God sits up there and arbitrarily makes whimsical decisions by judgments no one understands as to what happens to individual persons, who goes up and who goes down.
For instance, “Seek and you will find.” God does not sit up there somewhere and decide whether you have “sought enough,” or “sought in the right way,” before He “allows” you now to find. That's religion and it dishonors God. God is not like that at all. Jesus was simply stating a scientific law of spirit. Everyone finds precisely what they seek. What have you found? You have found exactly what you are seeking; you are receiving precisely what you want. There is nothing personal involved. Those who expect God know God. Those who don't expect God know everything else but God.
Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” John saw those who were called, chosen, and faithful. This is absolutely true; the question for us then is, HOW is it true. This is not a religious judgment, but a law of spirit science. Yet most people approach it as a religious judgment. In other words, most think one of two things. Some think, “Well, I guess I just don't know whether I'll be one of those who are faithful; I just don't know if I'll make it.” Others think, “Got it, God, watch me, I'll prove to you that I am FAITHFUL.”
Both these have turned Jesus' words into performance, the second as self-righteousness, the first as unbelief. Yet it has nothing to do with performance, but rather, what do you want? Faith comes only out of desire.
You see, there is a third response. That third response is the response that says, “I know already that I cannot measure up, but I cannot be anywhere else, Jesus, than with You, in that last category of faithful. And so, Lord Jesus, by Your Word in my mouth, I declare that I AM faithful and true, with You now in all of Your glory. I simply cannot be found anywhere else.”
You see, in that third response there is no thought of performance or of falling short. Only faith coming out of true desire. And that is the only thing that pleases God. Everything else is sin.
But right now I am concerned with Church. What is Church?
Church is found for us only in the seeing of the eyes. Church is Christ Jesus, yes, but for us, Church or not Church is found only in the seeing of our eyes.
Jesus said something that sounds like arbitrary judgment on the part of God, a judgment applied entirely to what is Church. But we remember that He later said that all of His talk about God was figurative.
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. Matthew 18:34-35
This is, of course, the parable of the unforgiving servant, the one who was forgiven much, then turned and punished his neighbour for owing him little.
I do not want to fill this letter with verses on seeing, but I will give an explanation of the laws of seeing based entirely on specific verses; you will likely think of some of them.
The first law of seeing is simple: the complete acceptance in all humility and in all certainty that we are blind, we cannot see. Those who say, “I see,” are sealed in their blindness. Only those who rest in the utter certainty of being blind will ever hope to learn to see.
The reason we cannot see is we are blind, literally. Our spirit eyes are covered over with a thick skin similar to a cataract. That is the skin God put upon Adam and Eve in the garden. Yes, it is taken off in Christ, but we must understand what “in Christ” means. I am convinced that “in Christ” has one definition only. “In Christ” means being inside a Person, Jesus, and seeing out only through His eyes in the full knowledge of being “in Him” in all ways. The greatest honor given to Jesus is those who believe that He is true even when they are blind.
So, we are blind because there is a heavy obstruction over our spirit eyeballs. Thus when we “see,” we see ONLY a reflection of ourselves. You and I have never SEEN another person; we have only ever seen ourselves as we “look” in the direction of other people.
Thus, when Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged,” He was not speaking of arbitrary decisions of God based on our performance. He was speaking of a simple, but absolute, law of spirit science.
When you and I look at others to “see” them, we cannot see anything but ourselves. Thus, if we don't like what we see, we speak judgment against our brother and sister. We speak at them concerning our own failings, yet we wrongfully assume that our own failings, the only thing we can see, somehow belong to our brother or sister, when in fact, what we see has zero relationship with them. We speak only of ourselves, yet we call our own condemnation of our self “them.” They are just busy tootling along, and our description of our self with their name forced on it, hurled at them, completely sidelines them. Wow, where did that come from?
So, when Jesus said, “My heavenly Father will do to you,” I simply cannot read that as God sitting up there doing arbitrary things at people based on their outward performance. Rather, I see it entirely as a spirit law.
And this should not be a strange concept. Heaven and earth are continually and intrinsically related at every point. We learn and are taught as we grow up to respect and to use the laws of physics by which to live; spirit is a realm just like physical is a realm, closely related, sharing great similarities, though also great differences. Thus to learn and be taught to respect and to use the laws of spirit by which to live should be the same. No one becomes religious because they leave the pan on high heat and the soup is burned. In the same way, we should not become religious about the simple laws of spirit.
But this law goes in both directions. I see Christ living as me, I see me carried utterly in Him, I see Him revealing Himself through every nuance of the human me, stumbling, foolish, and so often wrong. If this is true, then, in looking “at” you, I also see me. That is, I also see you so wonderfully tucked into Jesus, so much so that, by gum, I have to keep myself from falling on my face to worship you, because you are altogether glorious. Yet we walk heart in heart, comfortable and close, knowing Who it is we both really love.
Those who reach out to “correct” others are doing nothing more than groping their own false self.
Jesus said, “You judge according to the flesh.” You judge by outward appearance and NOT by real substance. He meant, “You are judging only your false self.”
And it is an amazing thing. When a corrector begins to “correct” others in a fellowship of believers, those who truly know the Lord are simply amazed. It is so plain that this corrector is talking only of him or herself, yet foisting their own judgment of themselves upon others as if the problem is the others and not the false self.
Let me give the absolute law of all church. Whatever you do, say, see, feel, or do to others you ARE doing it to Me.” Notice the “doing to.” Church is doing things with each other; not-Church is doing things to each other.
My next letter (I hope) is “Father.” And I'm really getting excited about that letter. I don't want to include here what belongs there, though these two letters are intrinsically related. Part of Father is these words of Jesus, “In My Father's house are many dwelling places.”
Father is so big and He has so many, many, many different appearances.
There is one sin in the church, one sin that you and I could commit, even though we subscribe to the testimony of Christ as me. That sin is to say with one breath, “Christ as me, praise God, hallelujah,” and then to turn and, seeing Christ as someone utterly, utterly different from me, not recognize Christ, but see only our own false self and thus declare, “Hey, you have to be like me, you have to fulfill my calling, you have to find my expression of God BEFORE I will accept that Christ is as you.”
That sin will turn every part of “Christ as me” into lying in our mouth.
And now I see a letter must be written, “Scorn.” But I cannot write that letter in frustration, only by tears of sorrow, by life laid down, and by love poured out.
In this world of vanity into which our Father has placed us, we cannot know “Father,” except we also, in full measure, deal openly with “Scorn.” Although I will not bring that topic much into this attempt to define “Church,” I will share this one example – and say that one of the several specific and deliberate reasons why I chose to leave move community is that I had come to the place where I could no longer walk with scorn. I could not walk with scorn as others because I could no longer live with scorn in me.
That reality of Jesus in me was shown to me by the Lord in a circumstance in my last year of teaching in the Christian school. There was a young man in my classroom over a couple of years, a large young man, a “teddy bear” to his classmates, yet I could see psychopathic tendencies in his eyes and demeanor. One day, this young man, sitting in the back of the classroom, defied me out of a spirit of scorn. I told him immediately to leave the room and go talk with the principal. He refused, but continued sitting there with mocking scorn in his eyes, defying me openly with words spoken out of that scorn.
I am not afraid of violence; I have faced violence several times in these settings and found it to be mostly a paper-thin façade that collapses easily in the face of being real. I had no concern over violence against myself.
This was not violence; it was scorn. Spontaneous violence is human, coming out of deep-seated frustration and loss; scorn is satanic.
I was unable to remain in the same room with scorn. I moved immediately into the hallway, keeping the majority of my students in my sight, bearing full responsibility for them. Out in the hallway, I asked a student to go and get the principal, who came and led the young man out. Only then did I return to my classroom.
You see, it has nothing to do with me. I cannot be in the same room as scorn. When I see scorn, not as human foolishness, but as deep-rooted theology, then I can only get as far away as I can as fast as I can. It is not any judgment of others; it's simply God.
As a measure of the deep sorrow of God fills my heart full in writing these words, I will leave this letter now and come back to continue when I am filled again with the joy of His Church.
Jesus IS Lord. We ARE His body.
What is? Jesus IS. We do not make Him so.
The idea that we could “make Jesus Lord” is part of the package Adam bought from the serpent, trading his identity as the image of God in weakness for the outward appearance of the serpent. The idea that we are “to make ourselves His church” is in the same preposterous package.
John 12:24 does not refer to us, but rather Jesus alone. Yet, as we abandon all thought of “our needing to die,” we discover that, since Jesus is our only life, He reveals Himself through us in a special way, a God-way, in a laying down of our lives for the brethren. This measure of life poured out comes only out of ALL Fullness now.
What is Church?
Church is NOT a group. One of the destructive forces preventing God's people from knowing the full joy of Church is the idea that church is a group.
Church is not a group; it is the connection between one individual and another individual, eye to eye, heart to heart, in mutual respect and honor. No matter how many people are in a room, all interaction is one person interacting with one other person. The fact that someone speaking is being heard by several at the same time does not remove the simple reality that every single one of those connections is one with one, even though there are several or hundreds of such one with one connections happening at the same time.
The one speaking is Christ, the one hearing is Christ, both hearts are Christ; Christ sharing life with Christ.
There is something else that requires a group, that requires an impersonal relationship, replacing the eye to eye with a stream of words separate from a relationship of mutual respect and full recognition of the other. But that something else is not church, and thus not the question of this letter, though it bears upon our experience.
This connection, then, between two individuals, this connection we call, “Church,” is Spirit. Think of cell phones. One cell phone cannot communicate with another cell phone except through the “bath” of microwaves filling the atmosphere. Inside that very bath are literally millions (in a big city) of separate individual cell phone connections, filled with communication. But your cell phone picks up only those signals sent to it from that one other cell phone, yet entirely inside the larger bath of microwaves containing all.
Thus the Church is that connection happening entirely inside of Spirit. Christ as me is not the connection; Christ as you is not the connection. While the connection, as Spirit, is Christ, it is not Christ as, but simply the Spirit of Christ. Christ as me stops at my perimeter. What goes beyond my perimeter, then, in connecting with others in the Church, can be Christ or it can be something else.
What am I saying? There is one sin in the church, sin that breaks Christ. That sin is manipulating others as if they are not what Christ ought to be. It is sin, straightforward, and unforgiven.
You see Church, since it is Spirit, is entirely the nature of Spirit. Spirit is wind; Spirit is dove. Doves leave the moment there is any sign of commotion. Church leaves the moment it does not exist in the connection between two people. In complete contrast, Christ as my only life is a rock. Rocks stay put; they do not move. Rocks are sure and certain anchors. Regardless of my callous disregard of another person, Christ still carries me.
Thus, manipulation of others, in all of its forms, as it moves out into the pathways of connection from one individual to another, the pathways that are Spirit in which alone Church exists, instantly create not-Church taking place between the one manipulating and the one allowing themselves to be manipulated. Allowing one's self to be manipulated is as sinful as manipulating. Both are not of faith because both do not come out of Christ.
Now, I must say that I am not speaking of normal bumbling human interaction, normal human frustration and misunderstanding. I am speaking of another spirit. So, the next time you get frustrated and say things to others you shouldn't have said, and then go back and ask forgiveness, all of that is just part of Church. I am speaking of that which never says, “I am wrong,” which never appears in a place of needing forgiveness.
Church is 100% real to the human experience. But there is another spirit that shows up where it does not belong. If you want to see a real example of what I am saying, read Gene Edwards, A Tale of Three Kings. Read the Bible account of Absalom and David as well. David would NOT manipulate others; David would NOT allow others to manipulate him. Thus David acted entirely as Christ; he walked away. More on this later.
But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16
Paul gives, here, one of the purest expressions of Church in the Bible. You see that every joint and every part are operating fully as individual to individual before the larger entity of “body” can exist. And inside of this reality called Church, at its core, is the word, “speaking.”
What do we speak in order to know Church?
Speaking the truth in love. What is the truth? You see, it is apparent that we cannot know in experience what is Church unless we know what is truth and unless we actually speak that which is truth inside of and out from the love of God abounding in our hearts.
So, what is truth?
Let me bring back in some questions I asked at the beginning of this letter.
What Is? – Light reveals what IS. To expose means to place things out where they can be seen. What Is? – If we are caused to see all things as they really are, what do we see?
If I look at myself, at my flesh, to see myself as I really am, in all honesty of heart and sobriety of conscience what do I see? If I look at you, at your flesh, to see you as you really are, in all honesty of heart and sobriety of conscience what do I see?
Now, let's go back to our present reality. When I look at you, all I can “see” is outward appearance. Outward appearance is deceptive, that is, the real fish ain't where you “see” it. The light has bent and the real substance is something entirely different. Substance is entirely in the heavenlies, yet our spirit eyes are quite blind, covered over with cataracts that have a reflective surface on the inside. Thus, what I “see” is entirely my own view of myself as I catch my reflection on the back side of my cataracts. Yet I CALL what I “see” you.
Do you see how easy this is, and how cool?
All I have to do is see Christ as me and thus I call you by Christ as you. If I see Christ when I look at me, then, by the same measure, I see Christ when I look at you!!! Jesus' words could just as readily be translated in this way: You judge others by how you judge yourself; you measure others by your measurement of yourself.
Very simply, when I look at myself, at my flesh, to see myself, I see either one of only two things. Either I see Christ by honesty or I see not-Christ by pretending.
Now, not-Christ has a split personality, good and evil, that is, not-Christ is schizophrenic, Gollum and Smeagol, but it's still only one other thing. And Gollum/Smeagol is a great example. One requires itself to be in control; the other always draws “control me” from others, and you never know which one will show its face next.
Truth is Christ; thus we speak the truth only as we speak Christ. But truth is Christ in a specific way, that is Christ says, “I am the Truth.” Thus we also speak Christ. As we speak Christ to ourselves, we know the God who fills us with His fullness now. But something different happens when we speak Christ into each other.
Has there yet been a Church upon this earth? A valid question.
Any form of “you do not measure up to Christ” is speaking not-Christ. Every form of speaking not-Christ is simply self-sight, the judgment of self against self. We say, “self for self,” and that has a valid application, but there is just as certainly, “self against self,” which might be more descriptive of Adam, in actuality.
So, I might suggest here that you go back and read/listen through my article in Through Eyes of Fire, “The Song of the Lamb.”
What is Church? Church is the Song of the Lamb.
Church is one person speaking truth, Christ our only life, into another person and entirely inside of Love, that is entirely inside of GOD who, in His entirety, is inside of us.
Then, inside this context of speaking Christ into one another, singing the Song of the Lamb, we walk together as foolish and bumbling humans, that is, the image of God in the earth, highly regarding one another, fully compassionate, forgiving one another, and sharing a joy of fellowship,koinonia, communion, that is unknown to all other created beings save those honored few who truly know Church.
Friendship, the deepest, deepest of friendship between two, does not create “elitism.” And it is here ALONE that Church begins.
Because you see, here's the amazing thing. Church is not Words. Church is not the flow of Spirit. Yes, real Church comes by those things, but it is not those things. Church is not people as in “the group.” Church is not form or structure. Yes Church is found in those things, but it is not those things.
Church is the deepest of friendship between two. Now, of all words in the Bible, what one word also shares that definition, “the deepest of friendship between two,” at the center of its essence?
I am a friend of God. (Sung to Israel Houghton's melody.)
You are a friend of God.
So you see, we cannot know Church without also, in equal measure, knowing Father. And Father, I can assure you, is simply, mind-blowingly incredible.
Wow. I just had one of those grand epiphanies that come while writing about this incredible multi-faceted Being who calls us His friends and who fills us full with Himself in Person.
The parable of the prodigal son. How we have always read it so terribly wrong. Everyone sees the issue of the two sons, back and forth, which son is wrong, both, which son are we, back and forth. Missing the whole point.
The parable has nothing to do with the prodigal son; it has nothing to do with the stay-at-home son; it has nothing to do with the receiving or the demanding of sons.
It is Father who fills us full. The Father is who we are; the Father is the One who shows Himself through us. The parable is not about how we react to Father, but how Father reveals Himself through us to ALL of the bumbling foolishness of humanity, no matter on which side they fall.
More on that anon.
What is Church? – Church is Christ Jesus planted in the earth as us. Church is Christ as the in-between form. Just as a plant is the in-between form by which a Seed brings forth seeds, so Church is Christ appearing now as something that outwardly does not “look like” Christ, yet is the very form or appearance through which Christ as the monogenes, the only begotten, becomes Christ as the many.
When you look at any and every other believer in Jesus, anyone who in some way calls upon His name, any one who in some fashion looks to Him as Savior, you are seeing Jesus as the Plant. Yet in our blindness, we demand that Jesus appear in our brother as Seed, not as plant. Thus we see our brother as “falling short of Christ” because he appears as Christ as Plant, not as Christ as Seed.
Christ as Plant is perfect as a plant. A caterpillar is perfect as a caterpillar. Any caterpillar that tries to act like a butterfly is psychotic and totally screwed up. Why? Because as a caterpillar, the caterpillar knows what a caterpillar is and does and functions well as a caterpillar. And of truth, the butterfly, every element of that butterfly including the very DNA, the seed that will form the butterfly, is there inside the caterpillar. But the caterpillar cannot know what a butterfly is; therefore any attempt of the caterpillar to “act like” a butterfly is nothing other than a caterpillar being stupid. No element of the butterfly inside the caterpillar, which truly is a butterfly in caterpillar form, has anything to do with that stupid pretending.
The problem is not the caterpillar. The problem is the caterpillars who, having caught a glimpse of a butterfly through murky eyes, go around telling all the other caterpillars that if they don't stop being caterpillars (die, brother) and don't try their best to be butterflies, then the great heavenly butterfly will be displeased with them.
Any Christian trying to “act like Christ” outwardly in their Christ-as-me state is psychotic, just being stupid.
Christ as me means that I am just real as I am. I accept myself fully. When I do stupid things, I accept my own foolishness fully. When I react in frustration to a brother who is not thinking of me as I am not thinking of him, I accept my own foolishness fully. I laugh as I say, “Oh my, dear brother, forgive me, I was wrong.” In the same way I laugh with all joy as I say, “And dear brother, I forgive you for being so thoughtless and so full of religious prickliness.”
Christ, laughing together with Christ, friend with friend, one with one in the deepest of friendship, in overflowing and exuberant joy, over the bumbling silliness of being, so obviously caterpillars, that is, Christ as us.
By the way, there is a word in the Bible that also carries that definition, “overflowing and exuberant joy.” Can you guess what it is? The answer is in the next chapter, “Father.”
Let me give you a definition of Church at its core, in its very center. This is the only place where Church begins. If this definition is not the center of what anyone calls “church,” it ain't Church. And here's the thing, this definition is NOT theology, but immediate and practical EXPERIENCE between two.
Notice that Father is in the center of this definition. Church IS:
– Christ, laughing together with Christ, friend with friend, one with one in the deepest of friendship, in overflowing and exuberant joy, over the bumbling silliness of being, so obviously caterpillars, that is, Christ as us. –
Frustration is normal; reacting out of frustration is normal, part of being human, part of being Christ as us.
But let's take this to the larger realm of all who belong to Jesus, the universal and catholic church.
Jesus became all that is His church. All.
And as all, He is perfect in His doings; Jesus does all things well.
To imagine, for one second, that another believer is “falling short of Christ” is to live in the presumption that Jesus is a stupid jerk who simply does not know what He is doing. That's why He needs you to “fix” what He has so obviously fallen short in because Jesus, after all, is absent and derelict, but has assigned you to be His vicar.
Let me define pope. “I am responsible over other believers to make sure they 'get it right.'”
Christianity is filled with millions of popes.
Here's the deal. If Christ is as me, then Christ must also be as all who in some way call upon His name. If Christ carries me, He must also carry them. And if Christ is as me, and if they are "doing wrong," then the ONLY answer that could possibly be fully Christ as me would be as I now teach, drawing them into the Mercy Seat of love upon my heart, sprinkled always with Blood, and then I, laying down my life for them as the heavenly revelation of Jesus Christ regardless of earthly appearance.
You see, pure logic and pure anointing, Word and Spirit, always go hand in hand. There is nothing more illogical and thus void of Spirit than this statement, "the Jesus in me is correcting (fixing) the Jesus in you."
Christ having become His church MEANS that Christ is doing all things well regardless of any outward appearance. And that's all "correcting" others is; dealing with meaningless outward appearance, all the while completely missing the glory of Christ. What poverty of sight; what emptiness of seeing.
Church is Jesus Christ planted in the earth as many. Ministry in the church is Christ sharing Christ with one another. When there is sin, we do not engage in any outward atonement of sin – “Get right with God, brother.” Rather, we draw all into love, laying down our lives for others. But if we must, we simply quietly walk away.
There is no ministry at all except showing Christ by being Christ.
What Is? – Blood, Was Dead, Resurrection.
What is Church? – Christ Jesus, God revealed, living as us in all we find ourselves to be all the way into life.
When you shine the light of truth on your brother or sister, what do you cause them to see?
Christ who loves you IS your very and only life.
When the lights turn on, when all things are exposed, what do we see for the first time in the history of the universe? We see one thing only. – God.
Yet this God we see IS seen only out from very human humans, being together all that very human humans ARE. Church!