Friday, September 18, 2015

Pastoral Pings ~ The Fellowship of the Christ-Centered and Spirit-Filled

          Let’s begin with an illustration. The life of our body requires attachment to our head, and breathing in oxygenated air. Without attachment to our head, the body has no control-center telling it what to do to live. Without oxygenated air, the body cannot do what the brain would direct. We need both the connection to the head, and the breathing in of oxygenated air, to enable us to live.
          In our eternal life, we must center on Christ the way our bodies are centered on our heads, and we must be filled with the Spirit in the way our bodies breathe in the air. Our blood stream is like our physical life, or our soul life. Without our attachment to Christ as our head, there is no means of directing our hearts how to pump blood throughout our lives. Without the Holy Spirit, we are dead in our trespasses and sins.[1] There is no oxygen going through our bloodstream. We are the zombies that are so popular these days.
          Eternal life is cohesive. Every part of what we have in salvation sticks and holds together as a unit. As we can look at the colors of the spectrum of light, knowing that all the colors are necessary to enjoy the cohesiveness of a bright, sunny day, so we can look at individual aspects of our new life while remembering that every part belongs to the whole.
          This morning this was emphasized in the necessity of being both Christ-centered and Spirit-filled at the same time, all the time. We can look at both of these individually, seeking to understand how each focus helps us in our relationship with God, but we can never think of having one without the other.  
          Christ-centered refers to a life that centers on Jesus Christ instead of the world, the flesh, or the devil. We do not see ourselves as the center of the universe, or of our daily lives; we see Jesus Christ as Lord, and every part of life only making sense, and only rising to its true potential, under his lordship.
          Spirit-filled identifies the necessity of being filled with Jesus’ Spirit rather than full of ourselves. It does not mean that we are not ourselves as the people God created, but that we know we do not become fully ourselves when we are full of ourselves, so to speak. It is when we are full of the Holy Spirit that we become what God created in his own image and likeness.
          The Fellowship of the Christ-centered and Spirit-filled speaks of the necessity of coming together with the rest of the body of Christ to live in the Christ-centered and Spirit-filled way. We cannot be truly Christ-centered without being part of the body of Christ that is attached to him as our head. We cannot be fully filled with the Spirit without being part of the body of Christ the Spirit is filling. Everything individual is found and understood only in the cohesiveness of the body of Christ that is Christ-centered and Spirit-filled.
          This means that we cannot be people-centered in our fellowship. A people-centered church is a contradiction. The church is a fellowship of people who are Christ-centered, all united in a faith in Christ that binds us together in him. As the best way to care for children is to be a home that centers on the leadership of the parents[2] rather than the immature and selfish whims of the children, so the best way to care for people in the church is to focus on Christ who is our head. Jesus will lead us in how to care for one another.
          This also means that we cannot be self-filled in our fellowship. Yes, we are to be fully engaged in the fellowship, enjoying every part of what we have in each other as the household of God. However, the fruit of joy only grows in the hearts of God’s people, and in the fellowship of the assemblies, when the churches deny themselves, their dependence on the selfish flesh (or sark), and are filled with the Holy Spirit instead. As we are filled with the Spirit, we find ourselves fully alive in God’s Son, fully aware of the goodness and grace of God, fully satisfied and joyful in him.
          A people-centered, self-filled congregation is not only going to destroy itself from within, but it is also going to be a miserable place to be. If everyone looks at everyone else as a necessary means-to-an-end, no one will ever be satisfied because no one else is cooperating in making our own selves happy.
          I have seen this with our daycare children when they all have their own idea of what game to play. They can only envision being happy if all the other kids want to play their game. The problem is, that all of them want all the others to stop wanting whatever game suggestion they have presented, and only want what they themselves desire. They are not happy little children when they think their way is the only way, and must convince everyone else to do things that one way.
          In the church, our true selves come alive in Christ when we deny our sarky selves, our selfish flesh. We come alive to our true selves when we are centered on Christ, seeking our ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction from him instead of each other. When Jesus’ Spirit also fills us as we center on Christ, we come to know what it means to have fellowship with our heavenly Father as his beloved children. In such Christ-centered and Spirit-filled fellowship, all the beloved children feel loved by one another as well.
          While there is lots that could be said about sharing in the fellowship of the Christ-centered and Spirit-filled church, I hope you will consider how necessary it is to hunger and thirst for both of these in our own individual lives as members of the body of Christ, and whatever expressions of the body of Christ we are part of. If we will begin by praying that God would make this real in us and our churches, we will see whatever he is working in us to will and to work these things that are his good  pleasure, and will know how to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.[3] The only thing left will be to join God in whatever he is doing.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ephesians 2:1-3
[2] This relationship is beautifully pictured in Ephesians 5:15-6:4 (Yes, the Spirit-filled life of the church in vss 15-21 is necessary as the framework in which husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church, and wives submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. Many marriages struggle to live by the pattern for marriage because the church they are in is not living by the pattern for the church).
[3] Philippians 2:12-13

No comments:

Post a Comment