19.3 Among the People
19.3 Among the People
© 2017 Christ Revealed Bible Institute
Among the People
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me (John 17:22-23).
God is real and practical. Jesus is not speaking of some obscure quality of osmosis, some obtuse metaphysical premise. Jesus is speaking of something definitive and measurable, something that evokes, “Oh, I see exactly what Jesus means.” Christian community IS the witness of Jesus Christ, the only true light to creation – “My dear, did you notice how much those Christians love one another.”
A Successful Christian Church
The Age of Tabernacles is God’s time of showing what He means by a fully successful Christian Church operating among the peoples as a testimony of Christ. You see, God is not in the business of presenting a proposition and then abandoning that proposition because it didn’t work.
As I stated in Lesson 7.1 Saved into Church, everything that Christians have imaginatively imposed on being dead in heaven, God meant to be fulfilled in the Church on this earth. The holy city “coming down out of heaven” is not a sci-fi movie as those who refuse to find Christ in John’s vision insist, but a symbolic representation of the nature of Christ in the Spirit appearing as God intends right here on this earth.
The Tabernacle of God
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:2-3).
Now, let me make an assertion that you will find really odd. In church history, the closest the church of Christ has come to this model is the time period in Europe from around AD 1000 to 1350, known as the “High Middle Ages.” Certainly this time period had its many problems, but scattered throughout were some qualities of use to our understanding.
Many Qualities of Christ
Roman Catholicism’s weakness and strength was in that it was very broad. The Catholic Church reached out to include many unholy things – BUT, since it was the only church allowed, it also had room to include many qualities of Christ. Later Protestant churches came so under the influence of intellectual Calvinism that, in their narrowness to exclude Catholic idolatry they also excluded much that is Christ.
Christian community was inherent in Catholicism, both Roman and Greek, because it is, in fact, a teaching of the gospel. Our understanding of monasteries and nunneries is weighed down by evil report, and we have had little access to any Caleb testimony. Yet the testimony of Christ is not small.
Glory in the Church
The primary lack in the monasteries was the separation of the sexes, a device ostensibly to prevent temptation, but which only increased it in reality (as does all focusing on “the flesh”). I cannot imagine Christian community not filled with young people getting married and families and children.
How about the monasteries in the High Middle Ages that experienced outpourings of the Holy Spirit with monks speaking in tongues as they worked – or even laughing right out loud during vespers? Yes. God is faithful and true – glory in the Church to all generations, as Paul asserted. I am saying all this as a foundation for my drawing of true human realities out from this time period and applying them to the Age of Tabernacles.
As I suggested, most of what God teaches us concerning the fullness of the Church upon this earth during the Age of Tabernacles has either been relegated to a fictional definition of “heaven” or turned into ludicrous science fiction. This is why I assert so strongly that history continues, that everything that is God is fulfilled in all practical human reality right here on this earth and among the peoples.
We have seen that there will be no such thing as a “total conversion to Christ.” Rather, the testimony of Christ is found scattered among all peoples across the earth. And thus my primary model is, in fact, the real St. Peter and St. Paul Abbey next to Shrewsbury, England in a fictionalized story-line set during the mid-1100’s – Ellis Peter’s Cadfael mysteries.
A Vision and Calling
Now, I intend to develop the practical aspects of a living Spirit/Bride expression of Church as God intends in Symmorphy V: Life, the entirety of which is devoted to Christian Community, that is, to the main topic of the New Testament. Before we explore such a wondrous reality, we will go more deeply into our Covenant Bond with Father than we have ever considered before – in Symmorphy IV: Covenant.
Part of what I hope to accomplish in this Kingdom context is to set before your eyes a vision and a calling to where you are most likely headed in just a few years – a Community of Christ at the beginning of the Age of Tabernacles. If you read what I write, I know your heart is already caught by a Christ who reveals Himself in this way, through Church Family.
The Rule of Christ
So, let’s begin. The core of every Christian community scattered across the whole earth and found among all peoples will be at least two or three immortal, incorruptible sons of God. Now that, alone, is a big deal.
And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the peoples—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father (Revelation 2:26-27). We have already seen how this symbolism is of the rule of Christ, the very opposite of the command and control of men. I assert that this “rule” over all is a libertarian governance.
The Law of Christ
The rule of Christ is by the visible, meaningful, and pervasive example of those who carry one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6). It is the rule of the deepest respect and the highest regard for each individual person – as if that one person is Jesus Himself.
Human “government” would be “my inflicting torture on you sufficient for me to get you to do what I want.” And yet that is how most of our brethren image the “rule of Christ.” If I am like God, that is, if I see you as Jesus Himself, the thought of doing anything to “get my way over you” would never enter my mind. Rather, I would think only how I might, in this moment, be a blessing and encouragement to you.
A Journey to Travel
Yet we are, in this context, entirely HUMAN, for man is what God looks like, not an angelic demigod. The majority of those living, then, in this context of Christian Community will be of Jerusalem, that is, those who have drawn near and who desire to know Father as we do. That does not mean all of those either way, nor does it mean that we will have any secret knowledge as to who is which. Imagining that we know what is in a person’s heart is a thought that will never enter our minds.
You see, the kind of relationship with God that I teach, that is, sharing heart with God, is not something you just dance into; it is a journey that each one must travel.
The Word out from Jerusalem
And we have to accept this testimony. That for us here and now, at the end of this age, that journey is speeded up way beyond the normal – for the elect’s sake. But those living in these Communities of Christ in the Age of Tabernacles will be in no hurry. Yet there will be many of Jerusalem who teach the word of the Lord among the populations of the people. They will be vitally connected to the local community – but God has crafted each one unique and different – and each one will gravitate towards that place where their own heart sings.
Here is the law of Christ in Community. Each individual one is free to come when they wish, to stay as long as they wish, and to leave and go elsewhere when they wish.
A Teaching Community
And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely (Revelation 22:17).
The Christian communities in which I lived were isolated, an isolation that typically leads to stagnation. Because the Blueberry community in which I lived for 8 ½ years was a teaching community, with students coming in from all over, we enjoyed a level of invigoration that other communities did not. That is part of why most of my knowledge of what Christ in Community really is comes from my time there. Yet, sadly, in spite of the overflowing rivers of Spirit, our theology prevented so much that could have been better.
Service to All
Now, regardless of some measure of self-sufficiency, a Community of Christ must do something to earn an income. The primary functions of these Communities of Christ among the peoples will be the service of teaching, of healing and rest, and of accommodation for travelers. Many will send their older children to the community for their high school and college education – though they are not required to, and there will most certainly be other options. Many will come to the Communities for health needs and will find hospice care and rest, and many who travel will simply stop by the Community as the inn along the way – though for both, there will be other options freely allowed.
Earning a Living
Now, here’s the thing. For years in community we wrestled with how on earth we could earn a living inside the context of our community life. I participated in that question and discussion with much thought. You see, all attempts to create some sort of manufacture in the community and all attempts to run a business outside of the community, either failed to satisfy or failed to provide. For success in both satisfaction and provision, we must provide a blessing inside the community for people elsewhere to come and partake. Although this concept was talked about, it never became real because our theology was opposed.
In my thinking, I arrived at three possibilities: a teaching community, a hospitality community, and a natural health community – even all three in one community.
Much to my amazement, then, I have realized in recent years that this was exactly the economic function of the monasteries of the Middle Ages scattered among the peoples of society. If you were sick, if you needed an education, if you needed a place to stop along the way, the monastery was the first choice for everyone, though not the only such choice. Lepers found refuge in little villages next to the monasteries where they were cared for by those who had that gift. One of the greatest crimes in history was when Henry VIII of England dissolved the monasteries. Thousands of sick people were thrown into the streets. Suddenly, there was no place to spend the night while traveling. The economic and human devastation was horrific for an entire generation.
A Convincing Resurrection
Now, the peoples of the earth will all be nominally Christian, that is they will all live inside of and give lip service to a Christian culture. That reality will not come by force. You see, the resurrection is a very convincing argument. Having individuals from Abraham to David to Paul to Patrick to Wesley, walking around, testifying of the living God, will be quite convincing.
Yet we must keep in mind that the majority of humans turning to lies and murder at the end means that not everyone will be devoted to Jesus Himself. And many among the people will be born again, and some will likely spend a season in the Communities of Christ, but that doesn’t mean they will desire to share heart with God.
Not Made for the World
You see, Catholicism recognized something in people that Protestantism refuses. Protestantism places all the people into the pew where they sit and engage with a short intellectual rendition of “the gospel.” But Catholicism recognized that there are many people who were not made for the world, yet wanted more involvement with their brethren than sitting in a pew on Sundays while spending the rest of the week being successful in the world.
Many, that is, a significant minority (around 10%), truly desire to be part of something real, something hands on in both service to others and a shared worship together with other believers in Jesus. And such a way of living should not be refused or imposed.
A Christian Cultural Base
And these monasteries scattered among the peoples of Europe provided a powerful Christian cultural base that emanated throughout society by example.
Now, most of what you “know” about monasteries comes from those who sought, not to find Christ in all things, but to ridicule Him and show Him to be false. Thus there is the picture of fat and lazy monks living high on the hog by deluding people that they will be “blessed of God” if they send money to the monastery. And ALL movie and TV versions of Christianity in the Middle Ages are grossly perverted and almost entirely false. Yes, there is always sin and abuse among Christians, but that was NOT the whole picture nor even the primary reality.
An Increase of Resurrected Sons
Of course, in the Age of Tabernacles, the presence of immortal and incorruptible sons of God scattered across the earth inside this Jerusalem of God, that is, Jesus fully expressed walking this earth in us, His physical Body, will be the key difference.
Nevertheless, we have established that history continues. That means two things to me. First, we see that Zechariah’s prophecy regarding coming up to the Feast of Tabernacles indicates that the number of people entering into immortality and incorruptibility will increase all through the Age of Tabernacles. Getting born again will be followed by getting immersed into the Holy Ghost, followed by physical bodies swallowed up by life. Yet all are free to stop and settle in wherever they wish.
On Human Action
How we know God remains the same for all humans now and forever. God never forces His knowledge on anyone. There is one Path only to enter into that full knowledge of God, the Path of the fulfillment of Christ in three feasts, through their outworking over time in each person’s life.
But then the second thing history continuing on means to me is that all people at whatever level will live by a philosophy of economics, that is, everyday practical living, based to a large extent on the economic philosophy set forth by Ludwig von Mises, 1881-1973, with important alterations to fit the knowledge of Christ. The gist of what Mises taught is what I also learned through my years in practical community subsistence living.
Involved in the Life of All
Now, ten percent of a billion people is 100 million. That’s a lot of people living in Christian Community, yet still only a small portion of the total. I envision these communities scattered among the population centers of the people, some inside of cities, but the majority, I think, in rural areas just on the edges of the population centers. These Communities of Christ will be vitally involved with the economic, cultural, and social life of all. Many will make use of the Communities for higher education or a place to recover from sickness. Many will spend the night while traveling. The reach and extent of the Peace of Christ flowing out from the Communities will bring abundance to all.
Now, in speaking of Christian Community, I am NOT speaking of socialism. Socialism is violence. Socialism allows no choice and punishes horrifically anyone who disagrees. Socialism forces the individual to lose his or her identity into the “group.”
Successful Christian Community does require commitment, but that is the commitment of Christ, a commitment that sets free, not the binding oaths of the evil one. In the next session on how we get from here to there, I have an entire lesson on the commitment of Christ.
One element of Catholic community that was false was the binding oaths of “total obedience for life” that were required.
Christ Sets All Free
Jesus said not to swear any such oaths, but to simply say “Yes” or “No” and let that stand. All swearing of oaths is a rejection of Jesus as Lord. The oath is now “Lord,” not Christ. Christ might want to move on to a new season of life and experience in a couple of years; the oath is now opposed to Christ.
Socialism requires abject commitment from all; Christ always sets everyone FREE. If you have lived in the same community with me for 150 years, and you say, “This community stuff doesn’t interest me anymore; I want to do something else,” my reply will always be, “That sounds wonderful. Christ as you does all things well. Be blessed in all of your going.”
Now, I realize that I have poked a hole in the bubble of most people’s imagination of “the next life” as being floating around in an ether of bliss playing harps and singing hymns forever. Or maybe I have poked the bubble of “ruling and reigning with Christ” as being running around telling everyone what to do (most don’t think of the torture and pain they will have to personally inflict on others to make that approach a success).
Consider again these two statements I made earlier. Everything of God is fulfilled in all practical human reality right here on this earth and among the peoples. – God is not in the business of presenting a proposition (a successful Christian Church as the witness of Christ) and then abandoning that proposition because it didn’t work.
The World Will Know
Let’s bring this discussion around full circle. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
This is the whole point. The people of this world will KNOW that God loves you and me just as He loves Jesus. And they will KNOW that God loves you and me in that way by seeing us walking together among a family of people loving one another with a pure heart fervently in all practical demonstration of life on this earth and in human society.
Come and See
Jesus turned and, seeing John and Andrew following Him, asked them, “What do you seek?” They answered, “Teacher, where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (John 1:38-39 – modified).
The gospel is not “go and tell,” though “go and tell” does serve a small purpose. The gospel of Jesus Christ is “Come and see.” “Where can we find You, Jesus?” “Come and see the family in whom I dwell, loving one another with pure hearts fervently. And if you wish, remain here with Me for a season.” Christian Community is the true Witness of Christ.
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3). I just realized something important here. Consider the overwhelming urge among humans to “worship” the resurrected incorruptible sons of God as “demigods.” Isaiah 2:3 shows us that this urge is always and successfully counteracted. Regardless of the role of Zion, it is Jerusalem that preaches the truth of Christ to the people.
Those of Zion do not present themselves as the men and women with “the Word.” Rather, they devote themselves to the law of Christ, that is, carrying the burdens of all. And they place those who desire to enter into all that is Christ above themselves in the sight of the people.
He shall shepherd them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels. One final thing. For any society to be free, those who value freedom and respect above all must be “in charge.” In other words, there must be a group of individuals whom all respect who can step in with a measure of persuasion whenever there is contention or whenever some individual or group among the peoples starts pushing others around. And yes, this natural leadership will often be exercised in putting a stop to those who will abuse others.
Yet, in order for liberty and peace to endure, this natural leadership, the sons of God, Zion, will also be laying down that power completely the moment it is no longer needed.
I realize that I have bounced around a bit in this lesson, placing out before us a number of things to consider. Although we must wait until Symmorphy V: Life to explore what Christ in Community really is, I am including the two parts of “My Vision” in Appendix B. In them I describe the community of my heart, the place where I belong. Or you can read them here: http://ourpathhome.com/portal/life/index.php?page=visionI
I continue to wait on God through this present season until He again establishes me and all that is mine inside the context of the community of my heart, wherever that might be. And there I intend to live for the next 1000 years.