All of Jesus, or none of Jesus??

Someone writes in regards to churches, “They are either all of Jesus, or none of Jesus”. Such an extreme view is way out of touch with the spirit of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, for example. The idealism sounds good, but if it were true there would be no hope for anyone, for you would have to apply the same rule to every individual, “It’s all Jesus, or it’s none of Him”. No individual passes that test. Fail. Even the man who makes this claim would have to exclude himself from the Kingdom of God if it were true. So no surprise then that no church measures up to that.

But we should. Paul exhorted the Corinthians that they should. Now, if we disconnect ourselves from everyone who resembles the carnal Corinthian church we would be of a different spirit to Paul, for he didn’t do that, he kept the door open, he kept pouring out his life for them till the end, he never gave up on them. He didn’t write them off as “crazy charismatics”, even though they were.

Yes, there is a time to part the ways, but what we are dealing with here is a very different kind of person to Paul, and a different spirit. If the Corinthians had told Paul to go away, no doubt he would have, like Jesus, he wouldn’t go where he’s not welcome.

But if the institutional churches are like the carnal Corinthians church, then for heaven’s sake let’s be like Paul and engage the real believers in the IC, and exhort them, not ranting on saying they are all evil and lukewarm. Not all in Corinth were lukewarm or carnal, and reading 2 Corinthians we see that they heeded Paul’s letter. This is very important to acknowledge, how Paul, by the grace of God, was able to turn a carnal church into spiritual.

 
Who knows, if we engage the “Corinthian churches” today, extending grace, we may have some small victories along the way, but we will never have any praise from Jesus on that great day if we lock ourselves in and spew out endless rantings about the “evil church”, that is not the spirit of Christ, and no amount of saying Jesus name can transform that evil spirit into the Holy Spirit.

There needs to be a balance, a fine line, between calling out sin in the church, or the so-called church, for what it is without a blanket condemnation of all the brethren still in institutional churches.

No use denying the reality that, like Corinth, there are carnal Christians who comprise carnal churches today. Yes there are carnal Christians. Paul told the Corinthians they were still carnal, and never called their salvation into doubt. So, the issue is NOT are their carnal churches, the issue is, will we relate to them in the same spirit and truth as Paul did?

Personally, i rarely ask Christians i meet, Which church do they go to?, i usually only ask that after i get to know them. Why? Because the thing we want to overwhelmingly affirm before all else is that we are all brothers in Christ, one church, one people, one body, one holy nation under God. The person who cannot affirm this is either very carnal or not saved at all. Going to the “right” church doesn’t make you a Christian. The unity of the Spirit, of the body of Christ TRANSCENDS every man-made thing. It doesn’t approve man-made things, it transcends them, and we have to be mature enough to acknowledge that and treat all who call on the name of Christ Jesus in sincerity the same, with the same love and respect.

Now, we could ask the question, if Paul the Apostle planted the church in Corinth how did it go astray? That would challenge some of our views, right? The original church planted by THE Apostle to the Gentiles goes off the rails, so what do you make of that? If that happened today many would be quick to blame Paul for the state of such a church, right? Paul, you must have compromised the word of God! Paul, you didn’t pray enough for them! How else did they go astray?

The answer to this is found in the very nature of God’s relationship with men in Christ, it is by faith and by love, and these exclude coercion. It is the drawing and leading of the Spirit, not Him kicking us along or threatening with a stick. The Corinthians had the liberty of the Spirit, then misused their new found freedom, taking advantage of it. Paul said he did not have dominion over their faith, he was not their master, not their pope, he was not to take the place of Jesus in their lives. This involves risk, on our part, the steering wheel is out of our hands. Not so with unChristlike expressions of church, where men have dominion and control over the lives of the sheeple.

What we find with Paul is a man not willing to pretend all is OK when it’s not, he told it like it is.

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