No longer do I call you servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth:but I have called you friends; for all things that I heard from my Father, I have made known unto you. John 15:15
What is and what we believe
Servanthood is over. The lord now calls us friends, referring back to Amos, who said that God would do nothing unless he would tell his friends, the prophets. We see that servanthood is over in Galatians 3 and 4 as well, where Paul likens an heir in his adolescence to a servant, but goes on to tell us: but now Christ has come, and we are all now sons of God, fully entitled to the heritage and inheritance.
There are levels in our relationship to Jesus. Not so much because he looks at it like this. Much more because we cannot fathom what really happened and need to undergo a journey to understand. When Israel came out of Egypt, Egypt did only come out of Israel on a forty year journey. The old generation had to die. They were imprinted with slavery. Being God’s people was a foreign concept for them, and they had to grow into it first. And only a few managed to do so. And only two of them were more than 20 years old when leaving slavery.
We have a greater hope, a better covenant. We are made a new creation the moment we accept Christ as Lord and Savior. We just do not believe it. And therefore, Jesus works with us in stages.
- After leaving servanthood, we become friends, then coworkers with Jesus, then brothers and part of the company of first borns.
- All men since the fall are the children of the devil. Accepting the cross, we now have the right to be called his children, and we grow from child to adolescent to son.
- After running from God, we go to the temple, become the temple, and then become a living stone within a greater truth, a greater temple.
- After being part of the old Adam, we now are in Him, a part of the body of Christ, the second Adam.
But do we believe it?
No. But God takes us on a journey.
It is all about identity. Identity is about who I am, whose I am, and to whom. The journey is to reveal our true identity, our cause, our goals, our deepest and truest being. We all have the urge, the inner need, and the chance to find out who we truly are. Where do I come from, where will I go, why am I here—all amount to the final and greatest question: who am I.
On every step of the way I can plateau. I can stop pressing in, camp out on the side of the road, and settle for what I know so far.
When I accepted Jesus, I got an inkling, an idea, a basic answer to those questions. Actually, as we just saw, God already spoke the final answer over our lives, but we have to grow into this. The truth has to manifest within us. So what do we understand from the start? I am saved. My sins are forgiven, I now am a child of God. A great start.
From there, we start a journey to become a part. A part of what? First, the church.
The church – a new cause
The church is the manifestation of the Kingdom of God on the earth. I now belong to the church to further the Kingdom on the earth. We are a group of people within the world wide church that has assignments to change the world, win it back for God, take as many with us when we die. We are a family whose members look after each other. I can grow from a spiritual baby to be a responsible part of the church, participating in its activities, but more over investing my fair share into the whole. One question seemingly answered: to whom. Where do I belong.
But still, we are a fairly loose community of believers, meeting one to several times a week. There must be more.
The bride – a new goal
Paul calls the church the bride of Christ. John in Revelation is shown the city, the new Jerusalem, adorned, coming from heaven, the bride of Christ. We are reminded of the song of songs by Salomon. The answer to the question: whose am I. I suddenly have a new goal: intimacy. Remember your time of courting? All you wanted, all you longed for is to spend time in growing levels of intimacy with your spouse.
But there is a limit. Children, the ultimate fruit from intimacy, are a fruit of marriage. And in marriage, there is no more bride. There must be more.
The body – a new being
This leads us to the most intimate picture Paul uses: the body.
Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. Gen 2:24
Many postpone the wedding of the lamb, between us as his bride and Jesus himself, to the future. The wedding took place at the cross and in Pentecost. What we wait for is the wedding supper.
But what does it mean: to become one flesh, to be the body of Christ?
We are a new creation. We are part of the second Adam. But what does it mean?
A few days ago I talked about fish and geese. Actually, I talked about swarm intelligence: adding up the intelligence of a swarm of individuals to add to the capabilities of the individual. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. And I contrasted it with collective intelligence. In swarm intelligence, the individual is replaceable, one of many, all equal. In collective intelligence, the individual brings his or her special gift mix to the table, and thus becomes a vital, irreplaceable part of the whole. And the whole becomes much more than the sum of its parts.
Want some examples? When atoms gather to become molecules, the molecule has totally different characteristics then its parts, yet each part is vital in the shaping of these characteristics. Organs are a part of the body, each with its special function, and in this case, organs are very limited to live on their own as they have specialized so much they have become codependent on each other to form the body.
By the way, there is much more space between the atoms than the matter of the atoms use up. A molecule looks like a loose gathering of particles. So much that if you would press all particles of the world together and eliminate distance between them, the world would be the size of an apple roughly.
In analogy, the body of Christ will be—and is, but we do not see or live it yet—truly a new creation, a new breed, a new being. Together, Jesus the head and we the body, we build a new being, a collective, a unity. One. Just as God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one. Each member irreplaceable, vital for the whole, but so much more in the fulness and completion, codependent on all others. Each providing his part, and partaking in the whole. We, the Christ.
Belong, long, be
It all starts with belonging, advances with longing, and ends in being.
Are you on the journey?