I have become convinced of two things in my continued journey with the Servant King:
FIRST: The Gospel that the Western Evangelical Church proclaims to the world today is a far cry from the “Good News” that Jesus Himself shared with 12 men who changed the face of the earth with their message.
SECOND: The world cannot possibly come into relationship with the living God unless they see the person of Jesus manifestly represented in His body – the Church.
You can read about the first in a previous post entitled:
This blog post serves to address the second…
The Invisible God
I believe that it is self evident, but more importantly, spelled out in the scriptures, that a knowledge of, or relationship with, God the Father is entirely unattainable except through the person of Jesus. Christ Himself made this clear when He boldy proclaimed:
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me
But more than just the ability to “come to the Father” (translated “get saved” by us evangelicals who are forehead deep in the revivalist theology of our era), the scriptures point out that far more than just being saved, it is impossible for man to even know who God is (see Him) but for the manifestation of the person of God in the form of the Son.
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.John 1:18
Think that one through!
No one has seen God?
- But what of Isaiah who said ” Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord almighty”? (Isa 6:5)
- Or Numbers 12:6-8 “But this is not true of my servant Moses…with him I speak face to face”
- Did not Moses see God manifest in a burning Bush?
- Was not Gods presence seen in the pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? (Ex 13:21)
But these manifestations of God are not full reflections of God Himself.
John 1:18 means that “no one has seen God in His essential nature“. God may be seen in a theophany or an anthropomorphism but His inner essence or nature are not disclosed by these means.
So, God is invisible. Unseen. (1 Tim 6:16)
He cannot be seen by man, and cannot be known by man because we cannot know Him who we cannot see. Again, think that one through. If His inner essence and nature cannot be known, then He cannot be known either. (If you only know my shadow, or photo, you don’t really know me do you?)
Well, here’s where this gets fun!
God wanted to be known. So around 2000 years ago, the inner essence of the Person of God the Father (who is also God the Spirit and God the Son) took on flesh as a representation of His inner essence and being. Now please take pause here because this is likely the most profound reality ever. And I don’t mean that as an hyperbole. I mean EVER! The fullness of the Trinity took on flesh by way of the incarnation in the form of a person – Yeshua (Joshua) whom we call Jesus. This is insane!
But more insane is the following:
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven – Hebrews 3:4
Did you get that? – “…the exact representation of His being”
Jesus was not just a man who followed Gods commands and got killed for it. He is the FULLNESS of the trinity, all of the personality traits of the Father, a complete and full representation of who he is….in bodily form. I love this!
So God, who was in essence invisible to man, took on a body, (now get this please)…
to GIVE EXPRESSION TO HIMSELF (who He was)…so that the world would know Him.
See Him. In His fullness. Jesus was a manifestation of the fullness of the person of God the Father. His Body (and Life) was a physical expression, visible to man, of the inner essence of who God was. Who God is.
That’s what Bodies do….they give expression to the essence of a person.
Think about it. Who is a person? Are they their body?
Well no, because when a person dies their body is all still there. But they aren’t.
But their body’s are the things that express who they are. They smile, hug, hit, heal, love.
So a body is that physical thing which gives expression to the reality of who a person is. In this case, Jesus, the bodily manifestation of the fullness of God, gave expression to the reality of the personality and inner essence of the person of God the Father through His life – and His body. This is the glorious mystery of the incarnation, the most profound reality – EVER.
A New Body
But there is a second incarnation, of which the Church knows very little today.
And it is our failure to grasp and run with this reality that I believe is at the heart of the breakdown of the Church in its intended purpose in our world today.
To recap, God cannot be known, or seen.
But in the BODY of Jesus, God can be fully seen, and therefore known.
Jesus came in bodily form to show God in His fullness to a world that otherwise did not see or know Him
Now fast forward.
Here we are today, nearly two millennia later.
And I will contest that NOTHING has changed.
Today, we cannot see God. No Man can see God.
Sure, they can see him in a sunrise, or a lily, or a babies laugh. But not the fullness of Him.
And the world today needs to see Him as much as they ever did. But He is Gone. His resurrected body is at the right hand of the throne of God, awaiting His return in Glory to establish and complete His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.
And as the Church runs around telling everyone about Heaven and Hell, and how to be “saved” by accepting Jesus into their hearts, and as we “share the gospel” with people who are sinners, we are forgetting the most crucial aspect of the “good news”.
God in Us!
Two thousand years ago God made himself known to a world that could not see Him (and frankly didn’t have an interest in seeing Him) by giving expression to who He was in the form of a body…God in Jesus. He demonstrated the very personality traits that were always present in the trinity….for all time….and before time…in a body that lived out God.
He gave expression to Himself by touching lepers, playing with children, caring for the sick and the poor and the downtrodden and the socially unacceptable. He did so by befriending prostitutes and tax collectors and sinners, and by loving the lowest and the least of the people around Him. He did so by serving his servants, and by giving his life for their well being. He didn’t do this as an afterthought or deviation from the personality of God the Father, but as the “exact representation of His (God’s) being”. It was who He was, and who His Father had always been. Jesus lived the Gospel. The good news of the personality traits of God and how his coming Kingdom would be. He lived the personality of God, to show us God. God was in Him.
And today, the very same reality exists.
The world cannot see God, and frankly doesn’t want to.
So we evangelize. We tell them of their sins. We tell them about their fate. We hand them tracts and ask them to attend our worship services. We preach on the streets and preach on the television….but they cannot see our God!
But they could.
If we would just be the body that he intended us to be.
You see, although neither you nor I can be the “exact representation of His being”, the great mystery of the bride of Christ is that we collectively are as parts to His Body, and collectively form the whole, which is Him. Jesus lives in us, and through us, and the Church is the very manifest presence of Jesus on earth today. We are his body.
This is not some cutesy metaphor.
The “body of Christ” was not a title loosely handed down or inadvertently appropriated to the Church. This is the very reality of the the good news. God cannot be known. But Jesus has made Him known. And Jesus lives in the Church, which is His body today, to give expression to WHO GOD IS, by how they live and love…so that the world may see Him. And know Him. And fall in Love with Him.
It is because of this fact that the Church today must awaken to the reality that its role on earth is no more, and no less than to BE THE VERY MANIFEST PRESENCE OF JESUS ON EARTH.
No, I’m not saying that we are supposed to imitate Jesus. I’m saying that if we have died and “no longer live, but Christ lives in us” (Gal 2:20), then as a collective group we make up the same physical manifestation of the fullness of the trinity that previously found expression in the person of Jesus, and today finds its expression in us. Through our lives, through our love. In our daily death on our crosses to serving others, and by giving our lives for their well being. Not as an afterthought or good work to validate our faith, but as the personality of God the Father and the “exact representation of His being”. We are to live the Gospel, and the personality of Jesus. He lives in us. God in us.
We are supposed to give expression to Him by touching the untouchable, giving our time and love “to the least of these”, caring for the sick and the poor and the downtrodden and the socially unacceptable. We are to befriend prostitutes and tax collectors and sinners, and by loving the lowest and the least of the people around us. Because that’s what Jesus does. And he is in us.
If it is not yet apparent, this message is a call to the Church…the body of the yet living Jesus to act accordingly…as His body….to be the continuation of His life on earth as a revelation to a fallen and blind world as to who our God is. My King is teaching me (though I am slow to learn) that if we stopped telling the world how to get saved, and began allowing Jesus to live His life through us…the world might stop – like it did 2000 years ago…and see the God who always was, represented in the Life of the Christ, who has His life today in us.
This mystery (Ephesians 3:8-11), God, In Jesus, In us…is the beating heart of the good news that we are called to live and proclaim to a world who does not know our God. The world can’t know Him, unless they can see Him! And we are the body He has to give expression to who He is!
Let’s live the gospel and make Him known.