I love to travel, and I have certainly been on a long journey. After years of traveling, however, I have some good news to report. I’m home! After a long journey, I wish I could describe to you just how amazing it is to be home. Let me explain:
The Exodus & Wilderness
I began to fall in love with Christ when I was about eighteen years old. He gave me a new heart and nature, and set me free from a lot of destructive behavior and bondage in a short period of time. Like most people who come to faith in Jesus Christ, I entered the religious system. It didn’t take long for me to see the incompatibility of this system with the person of Christ, however. Deep down in my spirit, I knew something was badly missing from this system. Although my mind and emotions bought into the ‘system’ at various times, my spirit was continually repulsed by what I saw. I knew there was much more to the Christ that my spirit was awakened to, yet I could not seem to find Him in tangible day to day life.
My reaction to this longing for more of Christ was to become critical of the religious system, and to focus on trying to be more ‘obedient’. No matter what institution or religious movement I was a part of, I found the flaws in it. This was true even with the religious works that I started and spearheaded myself. I picked everything apart. I was always disappointed that my journey did not lead me to find what I was looking for. The song by U2 ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ was an adequate description of my journey in the religious system. I was looking for the person of Jesus Christ in the religious system, but I could not find him because the focus was on so many other things that were being done in His name. This led to relationship failure on numerous occasions. (Click here to read about my relationship disasters)
My critics have said the real problem lies with me. Some have concluded that I will always be a perpetual questioner of things, and that I will never be satisfied. I wish I had a dime for every time that I heard this statement from those who were unnerved at my journey:
Jamal, the perfect church that you are looking for doesn’t exist. Every church has its problems. What you are looking for will only exist in heaven or eternity. You will never be satisfied. The real problem is in your own heart.
The good news is this, my journey is over! Not only have I left Egypt, but I am no longer in the wilderness! The word ‘Hebrew’ means (river crosser), and I have crossed the Jordan river into the promised land! (Yes, you can say Alleluia!) I am home. Let me explain:
The Promised Land
Over the last several months, we have been involved with an incredible body of believers in what many call ‘organic church’. (If you would like to know more about what ‘organic church’ is like from the perspective of a brother who has been experiencing it the last couple of years, click here.)
Although the body of believers I am a part of is relatively new, and we are just beginning the journey, I can already tell you that I am home. After a recent trip in which we had been gone for a couple of weeks, my wife and I recently arrived back in town just in time for our church meeting. While we were gone, the church had planned to have a Lord’s supper in which everyone would come together corporately to have a feast and share how they were beholding Christ as the Body & Blood. This was the first time we had such a meeting, and because I was traveling, I had no idea this was going to occur. As we walked into the clubhouse we were using for that meeting, I instantly saw an abundance of food, a beautiful banquet table, candles that had been lit, along with all of the brothers and sisters seated around the table singing. Needless to say, I knew something a bit out of the ordinary had been planned! It was quite a sight to take in after being gone for two weeks and driving for seven hours.
I can honestly tell you that what happened next completely caught me off guard. One by one, as my brothers and sisters around the banquet table began to share how they had been beholding Christ, something began to happen deep in my inner man. I began to commune with Christ in a way that was different than anything I had experienced in my entire life. We began to truly feast on Him together. All of us were overcome with a sense of awe, reverence, and joy. It truly was a holy experience that words will never be able to adequately express. I wish I could describe it to you. It was in that moment that I realized I had come home into a perfect house.
According to scripture, we are the living stones that make up this house. Don’t get me wrong, in the flesh, this body of believers is not a perfect house. We all have flesh, and we all have problems. True New Testament body life probably has more problems than you’ll ever encounter in the institution. The great news is that we are no longer defined by our flesh because that flesh has been put to death! No, this house is perfect because the One who dwells in and through this house is perfect. Jesus Christ is perfect. His divine life is perfect. A friend has defined ‘organic’ church life this way:
Organic church is a group of people who are learning to live by Christ’s divine life together.
After a long journey, I am finally beginning to see this unfold before my eyes for the first time. The reason this is new for me is because I have lived the majority of my life as a believer in Christ from my soul, but not my spirit. There is a huge difference between the two. By default, we naturally live from our soul life (mind, will, emotions), but Christ, who has come to inhabit us in Spirit, dwells in our inner man. It is in this place (spirit), that our spirit and Christ’s Spirit have become one (Ephesians 5:31-32). It is in this place that we are called to live from. It is in our inner man, where Christ dwells, that we learn to truly behold Him. As we behold Christ in ourselves, and in our brothers and sisters, we are transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:17-18).
Scripture describes the Word (Jesus Christ) as being a double edged sword who’s job it is to divide soul from spirit (Hebrews 4:12). Apart from this ‘division’, many times the soul life is confused as being Spirit life. They are very different, however. It takes Christ (the living Word) to make this distinction. True New Testament church life can only be built upon a revelation of the living Word (the person of Christ).
A house is built in phases. Phase one is foundation laying. No other foundation, other than Christ, can be layed if the house is to survive. It is in this foundation laying stage (the stage that our local body is currently in) that the saints are equipped to behold Christ and live from Spirit life, and not from our soul life (mind, will, emotions). You cannot have true body life until the members of that body are equipped to behold Christ and live by Christ’s divine life in Spirit. He is Spirit and He is truth. He is the only means by which we can truly worship (John 4:23-24).
It has truly been a beautiful sight to witness this body of believers literally being awakened to Christ from within our inner man. As a result, this body is becoming a living well that gushes forth the living water of Christ. Unlike my experience in the religious system, the essence of what we are beholding is not made up of ‘missional’ tasks to ‘do’ or any theological concept; rather the essence of what we are beholding is a living breathing person. This beholding is also not happening as independant units operating separately, but as a body of believers who are being built together corporately. I have been a part of various movements and streams within the evangelical system for 18 years, and I have never seen anything like this before. Living by Christ’s divine life, beholding Him, and being built together in family, is the home that Christ is actively building. It is His body. ‘In Christ’ is the home where God and man fully dwell, and it is the home that I have been looking for my entire life!
A Sense Of Humor
I’d like to conclude this article by letting you in on something that I find a bit humorous. I can only attribute it to the Lord. As I have been dwelling on the reality that I am finally ‘home’ in Christ, there is a song that keeps coming to mind. The interesting thing is that I have not thought about this song in almost 20 years! Nevertheless, I can’t get it out of my head. The Lord usually does this when He is trying to communicate something to me. As a result, I actually sat down and listened to this song. As I pondered the lyrics and asked the questions that the song challenged me to ask, the Lord powerfully spoke to my heart. I think He will speak to your heart through the song as well despite the fact that the song is being sung by a 1980′s ‘hair’ band:)
The song is ‘Coming Home’ by Cinderella. Click here to listen…enjoy the lyrics and the hair!