“There is no unity of diversity without Christ at the center.” André Pelser
JESUS came to restore man’s first transgression against another. Cain’s care-me-not attitude and indifference is seen in: “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”(Gen. 4: 9). These words were replaced by Jesus’ words on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). Jesus says it like it is: “I will pay for their wrongdoing and take responsibility for their sin.” Jesus restores “the brotherhood of mankind” – unity, but not as man. He was there when man, out of ambition, wanted to build a tower to “make us a name for ourselves” (Gen. 11: 4). God had to destroy this human-oriented ambition and unity by confusing people’s languages. Jesus pronounces judgment on Herod’s glorious temple, which had the same motive in mind: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
“But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” (John 2:21–22). Jesus speaks of the temple of His body (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19) that would be resurrected after three days. Only after His resurrection did the disciples think again of Jesus’ answer in verse 19 and their faith was strengthened (John 20:31).
Jesus wants to create a new family (brotherhood) for man, not seated in political power, earthly kings and kingdoms. He preaches a kingdom message: a new kind of government and connection between people. Church, kingdom, brotherhood, family, bride and body are all metaphors pointing to this new radical divine intervention. God and man are united in a holy unity and connectedness where He is the Head, King, Source and Rule.
Jesus therefore chooses His followers from a diverse background: ordinary artisans, doers and not talkers (theologians). CS Lewis: “…needs both the women and the scientist to make birthing easier. The experiential and the reason.”
The Bible is a book about relationships. God is essentially a triune relationship. Sin is the deed that damages and destroys relationships. Sin has primarily destroyed four relationships: our relationship with God, with ourselves, with one another, and with creation. Christ is God in human form to show us how to restore all these relationships. He is the mediator who restored our relationship with God by giving His own life as a sacrifice for our sins and transgressions. The whole creation is in proportion to all the parts of creation. Creation is therefore one great relationship of relationships! If one member is taken away, it affects the whole. So God is our answer and blueprint for relationships. The more we live closer to Him, and live in deeper connection with Him, the healthier and more right our relationships are. Serving the Lord makes us more beautiful people: the fruit of the Spirit and Jesus’ example show us how to live in forgiveness and truth.
“God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (Ps. 68:6).
Therefore, Jesus pertinently gives guidelines and instructions on how to maintain these relationships, for example:
You must love your enemies – (Matt. 5:44).
Conflict Management – Matt. 18 and Luke. 17.
“…leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – (Matt. 5:24).
Kingdom, family, alliance, and brotherhood in Jesus’ time on earth were essential to survival and survival. The Roman Empire, the wealthy Jewish families, the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, priests, tax collectors, artisans and poor people all existed as a specific class and group that exercised certain power over the people. You could not become part of any of these groupings without the right qualifications. Jesus chooses not to walk the official path of the rabbis and attend their training school. He prefers to grow up in Nazareth among ordinary and mostly poor people. His training was the practice of God’s law and will in daily life. So when He speaks, “He speaks with authority.” People understand, and hear, and realize, “He knows what He is talking about.” (Matt. 7:28, 29; 13:54 19:25; 22:33; Mark 1:22; 6: 2; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18; Luke 2:48; 4: 32; 9:43; and Acts 13:12). Jesus extends His hand and wants to invite us to be part of God’s family (Matt. 4:17).
Jesus’ radical message shifts the norms and standards of becoming part of God’s family:
“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation.” (Luke 17:20).
“but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matt. 6:20).
“And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24).
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20).
“It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:21).
“strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22).
God has seen mankind as His family since the creation of man. Our oneness symbolizes the unity that is in the Godhead:
“Now nothing will be impossible for them of what they intend to do” (Gen. 11: 6).
BUT: God’s family is a family of faith (Rom. 4: 5). Abraham is the father of the faith (Rom. 3:30; 4: 1-2; 4:16; Heb. 6:15). Sarah, Rachel and Rebekah could not have children. They had to trust God’s promise to Abraham – of a great offspring – and see how God supernaturally provided offspring. The blessing of the covenant on Abraham was from the beginning a generational inheritance of families (Gen. 12: 1-3).
None of the patriarchs’ firstborn from the flesh received the blessing of the firstborn. Abraham’s firstborn was Ishmael, but Isaac was born of Sarai the son of promise (Gen. 17: 18-21). Isaac’s firstborn is Esau, but Jacob, whose name is later changed to Israel, obtains the promise (Gen. 27: 20-29). Jacob’s firstborn was Reuben and he did not receive a blessing, but instead: “You will not excel” (Gen. 48: 3-4). Ruben’s immorality with his father’s concubine Bilhah (the mother of his brothers Dan and Naphtali) is recorded in Gen. 35:22. Joseph receives the blessing as the eldest son of Rachel, Jacob’s first love. Later, Benjamin received the tribal blessing and became a nation leader. Even Joseph’s firstborn son, Manasseh, does not receive the blessing. Jacob crosses his hands and blesses Ephraim (Gen. 48: 1-20). It is therefore very clear that God has never sought a political, carnal or nationalist nation for Himself. God is looking for a spiritual family from the beginning.
The Jewish system of government is called a theocracy where God is King. It was not God’s original plan for Israel to have an earthly king as ruler over them. Samuel warns them that their decision has negative consequences (1 Sam. 8: 1-21). “And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Sam. 8:7).
When God appointed the first king of Israel, He chose the king as man chose – “a mighty man of power.” “There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish …a mighty man of power. And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.” (1 Sam. 9: 1-2). David, the youngest, unknown shepherd son of Jesse, was God’s choice (1 Sam. 16:13).
God wants us to be His children, people of faith, according to His statutes and will. This is why some people who would never be accepted into the kingdom are included in Jesus’ genealogy because of their faith (Read Matt. 1: 3-6).
Tamar – Genesis 38
Rahab – Joshua 2: 1-14
Ruth – Ruth 4: 8
Bathsheba – 2 Samuel 11: 3
The second and third were non-Jewish, pagan women and perhaps the fourth one as well. Rahab was of dubious character, but married a Jewish prince and undoubtedly became a virtuous woman. Ruth was a noblewoman. Tamar’s actions in her relationship with her father-in-law are unorthodox in our eyes, though not the result of lust on her part, but because the desire for children was unjustly hindered by her father-in-law. In any case, she became an ancestor of David. And Bathsheba was an adulterer (2 Sam. 12:24).
God values the value of family very highly. Family is God’s way of bringing us to maturity. Psychologists, counselors and educators can certainly name the negative consequences of a broken family, absent parents, child abuse due to poor parental role models and poor family structures. We can assume that most of the social problems we experience today are due to a broken family unit. Sixty-five percent of the children in our country do not grow up with both biological parents!
Church is God’s Family Providence To The World:
When the church loses the value and experience of family, we have lost our usefulness.
One of God’s primary provisions to us, besides the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is the Body of Christ. For God to become human, He needed a body (Heb. 10:5). The Omnipresent, Almighty and Omniscient God comes to dwell in a human body! It’s His first great act of love to us! His incarnation! (Heb. 4:14-15). He needed a body to do good to mankind, to heal the sick, to defeat the power of evil, and to care for the orphan and the widow and the poor. No single person today can be completely Jesus alone. If there is such a person again, we will glorify the person. Jesus becomes flesh today through His church. The church is His body. The fullness of God is revealed in His body (Eph. 4:11-16; Eph. 5:30; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 12:12). We also need a body to do God’s will. We cannot bring the Kingdom of God to earth as it is in heaven without a body.
Like Jesus, we must humble ourselves and take the form of a servant and begin to serve people (Phil. 2: 1-4) and become part of a body. Every human being has been given a body that we have to take care of and take care of. This body is so amazing that doctors have to study for years to understand one particle. We reduce the body of Christ to a Sunday meeting. Church is God’s genius. Only in eternity will we truly fully understand the fullness of His body. Some people are overweight, do not exercise at all, eat wrong, work too hard and indulge in addiction. Their bodies therefore deteriorate rapidly and affect their mobility. They can no longer do what the body was made for later. They do not see the value of their bodies. Many believers make the same mistake because we do not discern His body (1 Cor. 11:29).
Relationships are complicated (“messy”). Relationships require attention, time, sacrifice, participation, hard work. “A healthy body houses a healthy mind.” We also need a healthy body / church / congregation to be spiritually healthy. This is such a deep mystery and the enemy keeps us from seeing it! Because our supply and health are locked up in a body. God never intended for the spiritual leader to take care of the church alone (Eph. 4:14-16; 1 Cor. 12:25). We care about each other!
The glory of the body is diversity. Everyone has a different ministry, focus and right to exist, but all for the sake of the body. The eye exists to be able to see for the sake of the body. It is precisely this difference that brings about the most growth in us.
Rick Joyner tells the story of a certain man who spoke out against their ministry. He even started a website against their ministry. The Lord convinced him to start praying for the man. The Holy Spirit then said that he should start thanking the Lord for the man. But why? How is this possible? Then he realized: Since the man’s opposition, their ministry has become more mindful of what they say and how they say it. Sometimes the person you like the least is the tool God uses to change you the most. Sometimes the eyes want to judge the body because they do not see, yet the other parts of the body have a different function. Let each one fulfill his function without murmurings or rivalries. We sometimes feel “just me making sacrifices”. Rather do not make comparisons – you only serve the Lord (John 21:22). There is no way you can separate and distance yourself from the body. Only sin, someone who sows division and deviates from sound doctrine, can be avoided.
No cell in the body can exist outside the body. We need each other. Please read this beautiful article. It’s a summary of one of the chapters in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, on the Roseta effect. It’s about a small Italian community in New York. http://yocuzlawyers.com/2011/06/the-roseto-effect-the-valley-of-the-roses/ The value of family and community can be physically calculated and seen.
“For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” (Col. 1:27 – NLT). The word “you” is a collective pronoun and can be translated as “Christ among you and in you”. Christ is in you, but there will never again be a Christ manifested in His fullness in one person. Christ’s fullness can only be glorified by a body of people. The church is His body, the fullness of Him who fulfills all in all (Eph. 1:23). “But I will not destroy them all,” says the Lord. “For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones (and someone will say, ‘Don’t throw them all away, some of those grapes are good!’), so I will not destroy all Israel.For I still have true servants there.’” (Is. 65:8).
There is only one body (Eph. 4: 4).
The glory of God is already locked up in His body. We can only live in the fullness of this glory when we see the Christ in one another and unlock the gifts in one another. Just as Jesus was born into a body that had to grow before the time for His ministry, so the church is in a process of preparation until the final hour of her glory! Just as people did not want to acknowledge or accept Him and would eventually crucify Him, the church will attain its greatest glory in its darkest hour. May God open your eyes like Peter’s to see salvation in His church!
Question: Can I be a Christian without joining the church?
Answer: Yes, it is possible. It is something like being:
A student who will not go to school.
A soldier who will not join an army.
A citizen who does not pay taxes or vote.
A salesman with no customers.
An explorer with no base camp.
A seaman on a ship without a crew.
A businessman on a deserted island.
An author without readers.
A tuba player without an orchestra.
A parent without a family.
A football player without a team.
A politician who is a hermit.
A scientist who does not share his findings.
A bee without a hive.
You Are Part Of The Body If You:
- are born again in Christ
- living a lifestyle of constant self-denial
- serve someone
- contribute your share for the sake of the kingdom
- live out your calling
This brotherhood and family being is much deeper than attending services and membership cards:
• If one member suffers, the whole body suffers (1 Cor. 12:26; Col. 1:24).
• Equal care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25).
• Divine Commitments (Peter and Cornelius, Acts 10; Ananias and Paul, Acts 9: 10-12; Philip and the courtier of Ethiopia, Acts 8:26).
• Know one another by the Spirit: Jesus sees Nathaniel (John 1:47); Ananias prophesies what Paul will suffer (Acts 9: 10-15).
• A spiritual unity that is not limited to a specific area (Col. 2: 5).
The Amount 150
In a recent study done by Dr Dunbar, he has found that there is a direct relationship between the size of a mammal brain and the size of the social group of that mammal. He even came up with a scientific formula, based on studies of animal behaviour, that suggests in relation to the size of the brain and specifically the neo-cortex of a certain mammal, the maximum size of the social group of this mammal. The maximum number for humans is 147.8 or 150. In anthropological studies this number pops up everywhere, in what scientists say is the ideal functioning size of a group. When a group or unit gets bigger than 150, complicated hierarchies, rules and regulations is needed to maintain cohesion and loyalty.
Jesus had 12 disciples; He send forth a team of 70 (Luk. 10) and 120 gathered in the upper room, waiting on the promise of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5). Large crowds often followed Jesus, 5 000 were fed, and 3000 got saved on Pentecost. It is thus difficult to determine a specific magic number biblically. But what we do know, when it came to preaching the gospel large crowds were drawn, but when they met as a church, they met in houses. Although the church grew quickly, it seemed that the apostles kept the units small to preserve the unity and natural dynamics of a small group. It is easy to hide in a big congregation and to fall into the trap of just attending services. But the growth that the body supplies according to Ephesians 4:16 is seriously lacking. People grow spiritually more in a small church, because people know one another, and cannot hide, and they rely heavily on each other, so there is no passivity.
I thank God that He builds His church and that we see the reality of what has been explained above! All over the world, true biblical, accurate churches and societies of people are being resurrected, as we change from glory to glory in His fullness with a revealed face, which sees Him as in a mirror.
God builds the church… a church that is not controlled by man, and is not protected by man, but controlled by His Spirit!
Let all who have an ear hear what the Spirit of the Lord says!
Spirit Of Alienation:
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” (Col. 1:21).
One of the biggest obstacles for people to feel part of the body of Christ is alienation. We do not feel at home. We do not fit in. This or that is not to our liking. I’m among people, but still feel alone. These feelings are based on our own sin and shortcomings, or those of offenders who have already hurt us greatly.
It is essential that we understand right from the start that these feelings are satanic in nature. Yes, as doubt, satan himself is the agent and originator of these thoughts and feelings. You think this is how you feel, but it is an attack by the enemy to remove you from God’s richest provision for you. Our provision, but also our growth in maturity, is locked up in His body, His family.
John Ortberg wrote about a world where everybody did what they should all the time. It would be a world where “all marriages would be healthy and all children would be safe …” Israeli and Palestinian children would play together on the West Bank. Their parents would build homes for one another … Disagreements would be settled with grace and civility … Doors would have no locks; cars would have no alarms. Schools would no longer need police presence or even hall monitors … Churches would never split … Divorce courts and shelters for battered women would be turned into community recreation centers. Every time one human being touched another, it would be to express encouragement, affection and delight. No one would be lonely or afraid.”
The truth is: We all dream about this perfect world, but none of us are obedient to do right and live.
Take spiritual authority over these thoughts (2 Cor. 10: 4-6). As Jesus defeated satan’s lies with the Word (Matt. 4: 1-10), you unmask satan’s plan and confess the Word, as “I am well-accepted in the beloved.” Eph. 1: 6.
You then go into faith and make yourself part of it on the basis of His righteousness and the fact that He has already reconciled and made you partakers through the cross (Col. 1:27).
Serve someone with what you have received from Jesus. Share! Give! “In vain have you received, in vain do you give back” (Matt. 10: 8). We have already received the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit becomes more, the more I share and spend it. The same is true of the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts are not for you, but for those in need around you.
We do not seek the recognition, acceptance and honor of man, but of God (1 Cor. 4: 1-5).
I am what I am by the grace of God (1 Cor. 15:10).
 Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York, NY: Hachette Audio.