Meditation: We are the Body of Christ
For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Acts 17:28
We are the living, moving, breathing, body of Christ. We are the Church. As children we sang “ the church is not the building, the church is not the steeple, the church is the people.” But, simple things confound the wise. A lot of things in the Bible are taken literally but the Church being the embodiment of Christ is not one of them. Many believe that Jesus is away. When Jesus’ body was crucified those who remained, and all of those who have followed after him, became the embodiment of his spirit on earth. We are the spirit of the Messiah, the great hope for humanity, embodies “the church“. He is us.
“Christ’s body” in the first century was a diverse group of people. The beliefs varied widely concerning Jewish law and Pagan rituals. One thing they both agreed upon was that there is a power higher than the government and religious institutions. That is why true Christians are always seen as a threat to powers and principalities. The early Christians were pacifists. They were not religious. They were reborn.
Australian Theologian William Loader suggests that transforming faith removes barriers constructed by religion. “The whole world is God’s creation, the playground of the Spirit. The whole world is the object of God’s love, the love incarnate in Jesus Christ. Every attempt by human beings to capture God in images, in a book, in a temple, in a people or culture, in a religious experience or in an institution, is a denial of the Spirit. It is a re-erection of Babel’s tower, another futile assault on God’s power in the name of human power, another desperate bid borne of fear, to define out the unknown, the unpredictable, the unmanageable future God promises us. The serpent’s vision still entices us: we want to be like God.”
Our Babel continually merges the church with the state. St Augustine facilitated this when he developed the concept of “just war theory.” Some might say he saved the Christian religion. The theory was developed in desperation because Christians in Carthage refused to fight when the Visigoths invaded. They were following Jesus, they were pacifists. This merging of Jesus’ teachings with political power has strengthen the religion but has destroyed the faith and brought us to our present condition. The religion has survived but the true Church has been gobbled up by religion.
The Roman Catholic Church was amassing great wealth by exacting outrageous indulgences from the poor in 1517. The crusades sought to further the power of the religion and increase the empire. Martin Luther was compelled to nail his 95 theses to the door. The Church and state were pulled apart and the message of Jesus was more freely available to all. As a result of reading Jesus’ words, pacifism was reclaimed and grew quickly. It seems true Christianity historically is followed by martyrdom.
“Christians” committing violence is the dominant religious force of empires, even the emerging United States empire. Once again fear of an apocalypse and evading Moslem fighters fuel the cry for a “righteous” military force. Many of those who confess Christ help build the United States version of the tower of Babel and fuel the crusading army headed for the Middle East. It is time again for reform. The body of Christ within the churches will emerge. We will rise up, return to the truth of Jesus and his teachings. We will nail our theses to the door for all to see.
Kindness and generosity are the characteristics of Christ
One can not kill for Jesus
The new Jerusalem is not real estate
Jesus did not teach capitalism
The free market is not the good news
Punishment does not save
The word of God is not a book
One honest person can impact more than a multitude
Comfort is not our birthright
Prayer: Living God who embodies us and whom we embody restore your teachings of love, compassion and non-violence to our world. We rejoice that in you we live and move and have our being and as your church we welcome you to live and move and be in us. Amen
Action: Read about the history of the Church and notice the patterns of political power, wealth and corruption. Rent the movie Luther and reflect on the similarities to today. In silence listen to the still small voice and discern how we can better embody the spirit of the Christ in the world. Nail your thesis to the door.