On Christmas night after a full day of everything that is Christmas day, I was rolling Chris to the bathroom and getting him set, and as I headed for the door so he could have some privacy he asked, "Dad: Know why reindeer fly?"
I turned back to look at him through the partially closed door and responded, "No, why?" to which he quickly answered: "Because they can't swim."
I studied his face for a smile and twinkle in his eye, but he was quite serious, not trying to make a joke but rather answer that age old question - Why do (Santa's) reindeer fly? I told him, "That's good thinking Chris! They have to go all those places and some of it is over water, so it makes sense they can't swim, so they fly. Good thinking son!"
Outside the box of religious culture
While the rest of us think Santa's reindeer fly for speed, Chris was thinking outside the box to the core issue and decided it is because they can't swim.
(For all concerned: Yes, though a mental 4 year old (but just turned 36 on 12/23) Chris knows Santa isn't real and knows we give gifts to one another because the Father gave us His greatest gift, and he loves Jesus and knows Him well. But he also knows the culture of commercial Christmas like the rest of us.)
Last week I shared how we have Christ in us which means we have the maximum we could have from the Father - "He spared not His only Son, but gave Him for us all, how shall He not along with His Son also give us freely all things?" (Romans 8:32)
Thinking outside the 4 walls of the church box: Christ in us versus religion
Having Christ in us means we have a personal responsibility and accountability to Him within, and because other disciples have Christ in them as well, we are accountable to those brothers and sisters with whom we fellowship. They too are living, breathing temples of God
Additionally, the result of each believer having Christ inside assumes one is moving into maturity in Christ, and that means trusting Christ in one another.
Trusting Christ in others means as we are in relationships with other believers we get to know what is going on in each other's lives. There are many times when I hear something going on in someone's life and think "I'd do that differently", but I trust Christ in them and know that He will walk them through it. What they do is unto the Lord, not unto me, so my responsibility is to love and pray not try to butt in where I'm not wanted.
If someone takes issue with something us we try to make peace as much as we can, but in the end if they continue to take issue, we step back and realize their issue is with Christ in them, no longer us, and trust Christ to deal with them. Though we are concerned for one another and pray for one another, there is no sense of worry or fear or carrying someone else's burden to the point of laying awake at night worried for them, because Christ is in them and He is fully capable of sustaining them. We pray, and rest in Him.
Paul taught this in I Corinthians 8 and 10:24-33 and Romans 14 when he talks of each person having to choose as unto the Lord whether they eat meat in a restaurant that had earlier been sacrificed to idols, or eat only vegetables, or choose one day over another to worship on, or drink wine or not. He said what each does is unto the Lord, and he says, "God receives him."
I always keep that in the back of my mind when dealing with another person no matter how direct I must be; they are the highest from of human a person can be, Christ is in them. They are my brother or sister no matter how obnoxious. That helps me walk in love and honor them properly, and keep my attitude straight, knowing they give account now and later as will I, to Jesus one day.
But religion doesn't trust Christ in a person because the design of the system is for a person to know the structure rather than the Person of Christ. As a result people know a church experience (We sure had church today! is often the remark) without knowing or experiencing Him in that church experience.
Accountability is therefore not to one another as Jesus taught, but is to attendance, giving, and volunteering. The auditorium must control from the outside, external means ranging from the pastor manipulating the congregation by guilt and condemnation from the pulpit to a creating a church culture of fear of doing something wrong lest the devil get you. It's all a form of external manipulation designed by the system centuries ago to keep the 'sheep' in line that many pastors today gladly go along with because they know nothing else.
What form of 'church' builds you up?
The auditorium church affirms a person from the outside, while relationship based faith affirms a person from within. Therefore relationship based, Christ in each person faith doesn't appeal to the flesh, doesn't stir a person up emotionally. Meetings in homes are to the flesh rather boring, for people there are used to being serious about growing in Christ and dealing with the heart, knowledge in Christ, and getting to know one another, often over a meal.
Healthy family based church that meets in homes requires the investment of all in a commitment of time and risk of getting to know one another and being known by others. Not everyone wants to make that investment, but are rather content to sit back and be entertained in the auditorium where nothing is required of them.
But having nothing required of us is not Biblical Christianity and leaves one feeling full yet dissatisfied, knowing there is more but not knowing what or where to find it. Is it possible those boring old home meetings might actually be the key to person growth and attaining those friends in the faith we've so desperately looked for but not found in the auditorium?
To those outwardly focused on being entertained as in the auditorium, house church meetings can be boring, but to those who make the investment to return each time and get to know one another, it is rich and strengthening as a network of close friends in the faith is developed, a 'safety net' of those you know you can trust to be there and pray for you should you need anything.
Consider that if Christ is in every believer, and that believer is also a disciple - a learner - of Christ, then we must put a certain amount of faith in Christ in them as they walk out their own salvation.
In New Testament reality of Christ in each person, accountability is to one another for Christ is also in those with whom we fellowship. It is as easy (and difficult) as Jesus said - if your brother has something against you, go to him and be reconciled. And, we forgive those who trespass against us, for as we stand praying, we forgive.
We aren't accountable to a system, but a Person, Christ Jesus who lives within, and to one another. Thus we love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.
Christ in us
"From henceforth I know no man according to the flesh (according to earthly standards)...for if any man is in Christ he is a new creation..." II Corinthians 5:16-17
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor freeman, male nor female: For you are all one in Christ Jesus."
"For in Christ Jesus being circumcised or not being circumcised means nothing, but only a new creature, and as many as live by this rule, peace is upon them..." Galatians 3:28, 6:15-16
"...Christ in you, which we preach..." Colossians 1:27-28
If you read through the New Testament you'll find everything, no matter the writer, is based on the amazing fact that Christ lives in us and that fact rearranged their thoughts. Can we start thinking like they thought?
What you're going to see in the coming months is the body of Christ coming more and more out of the externally focused auditorium and into the living rooms, but to do the body must become focused on Christ in us, the hope of glory. More next week...until then, blessings,