Christ – Corporate or Individual?
By Fred Pruitt
February 21, 2008
Thank you for your graciousness. I believe you do the right thing to “let” these things work their way into your understanding as God does it in His time. I think I mentioned previously that we make a “faith plunge” into Him, as you said, saying things that “be not as though they are,” as did father Abraham. But it is not a trick to the mind. Just like Abraham trusting God to fulfill His promise to bring forth Isaac was not a trick of the mind to Abraham. It was a true “death” to Abraham for him to trust in the absurd and invisible, with no evidence to support it except a fixed trust on an inner voice or knowing. Indeed, the visible evidence (old age) obviously made his claims look foolish or incredibly presumptuous.
Yet Abraham knew what God had promised, and believed against everything to the contrary that God would do it. And it is the same when we enter into this faith that He has come into us to be one person with us.
Please understand, this is not a “new teaching” to take and apply and believe in, but simply He Himself in us in a “oneness” of selves. We always remain our human selves joined in Spirit in oneness with God through Jesus Christ, but our walk is simply the Spirit as Christ walking, talking, living, being, thinking, acting or speaking – as us! He reveals Himself in the person – you and I – that we are. He reveals Himself as Christ as you, and He reveals Himself as Christ as me. All of this is enacted by the Spirit and we live it by and in faith.
This union which operates as a oneness of selves has been His intent from the beginning. That Divine intent is that man would be an outer expression of Him Who is the central inner Life. He is fulfilling His own purpose which He stated in many places in the Law and the Prophets – “I will dwell in them and walk in them and be their God.”
(The “in them” theme was not widely known in the days of Cain and Abel all the way to Jesus. Though it was there in the Law and the Prophets, in plain words, only the odd person here and there would catch it. But now the mystery has been revealed for all who have eyes to see, stated succinctly by Paul in Colossians 1:27,28, “Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”)
“I will cause them to walk in my ways and to obey my statues.” “CAUSE THEM!” Someone always chimes in at this point (always wanting to prove they can sin if they want to and I have no argument with that), “Well, I have free will!” And we answer, then do as did Jesus in faith, to claim no separate will but that His Meat, i.e., His Sustenance, was to accomplish the Father’s will.
Jesus did not say, “I can’t go to the Cross since I have free will and will probably succumb to temptation,” but rather, “My will is Your Will, Father.” Though He was pulled by temptation to assert an independent separate will of “His own” in Gethsemane, something which He had always rejected, the Spirit held Him true in His weakness. Though He was pulled to the point that He perspired blood, the Spirit pulled Him through three times: “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt 26:39).
Here is the sum of the matter. We “will” to will God’s will. However, we have no power of application – Romans 7 has proven that to us. We have all been in Romans 7:18b, “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” It is this “negative” fact about ourselves, that we “will it” but we cannot fully “do it,” that is the Negative structure on which the Positive of Christ in us is built! That is what Jesus had learned in His Earthly Life, that same principle that we learn, “Not I, but He.” “Nevertheless not my will, but as You will!”
Therefore, we are in alignment with the Father’s will when we say we delight to be CAUSED to walk in His ways, because His will has become our will and His desires have become our desires. In our deepest selves we “want” what God wants. Not because we humanly changed or advanced in some way, but because He is all those things in us regardless of the “vessel’s” positive or negative “attributes.” We are CAUSED because WE WANT TO BE CAUSED! It is a union which operates as a unity of Love and Freedom, not of compulsion and chains. And the freedom and love we are “caused” to walk in, is a continuous path of servanthood to the people of God in the world. In whatever ways God manifests Himself in our lives.
(When I say “people of God” above, I mean both those who we can call the Body of Christ now, but not limited to those who call themselves Christian or by any other name. In my mind we have been given a servanthood toward all mankind, of whom Paul says all “live and move and have their being” and are the common offspring of the Living God – Acts 17:28. I prefer to see everyone either as a current “son” or a potential “son,” rather than having to see a certain portion of humanity as Satan. I know that is part of my own stated theology, and I haven’t changed on that. The scriptures are clear to me on that subject. But they do not say we are to walk around calling everybody Satan who doesn’t believe in Jesus. Jesus certainly did not do that, except for a few times in His loving exasperation toward the Pharisees and Sadducees. He called them sons of the viper but no one else.
Now, regarding your questioning on whether Christ is individual or corporate. Someone put these questionings on you, challenging things we say, because according to that person it is error to say Christ manifests in the individual (Christ as you and Christ as me), rather than all the members together being the One Christ. (Christ as all of us corporately).
First, I see no conflict whatsoever between the truth that Christ is corporate – that we, collectively, are the Body of Christ, and the equal truth that individually, you and I and all others like us are Him in expression individually. In fact, if it wasn’t for the latter, that He manifests Himself in and as you and I individually, we could not even begin to say that the Whole Body is Christ manifesting Himself. It is you and I as individual stones who are laid in the house of God by the Master Stonemason. He chooses each individual stone and places it where it pleases Him in the building.
What is this saying to us? It is talking about the real inner Truth of the Body of Christ. It is made up of individual stones, each of them unique from all the others and having a function no other stone can provide. That is why so many of us have had to forsake “the crowd” for a while, to go off and to find our place in God’s society. To find out what stone we are.
It is in discovering the right individual stone that we are and being it, that we find our place as stones in the building. I want to stress this: we MUST (divine unction, not outer law) find ourselves individually and be that. God will see to it that we mesh perfectly in the Body by performing our own particular function. In other words, we each, in being individual expressions of the Living Christ, comprise the corporeity of the Body of Christ.
When I was a senior in high school our class performed the musical play, “Oliver,” as our senior play. I auditioned and found myself with two small parts as well as helping out with backstage stuff. I went to all the rehearsals, learned all my lines and the words to all the songs, got my costumes, knew my cues, etc. I did everything I was supposed to do. I made it to dress rehearsals and every performance and did my parts. Of course when all the parents and grandparents came to the play, they all said how wonderful we were and we should be on Broadway (ha ha).
Now, you have to understand, I never saw the whole play from start to finish. The film version was playing in the theatres at the time, but our drama teacher forbade us to go see it. I had never read Dicken’s book, Oliver Twist, either. The result of that lack of knowledge on my part was that I really didn’t have a clue what the story presented in the play was all about. Oh I vaguely knew what was going on, and did every one of my bit parts with gusto and to the best of my ability. But I still didn’t ever know the complete story we were presenting.
Why am I mentioning this? It is because this is a perfect example of what I have been writing about. I KNEW my part and did it. I was not required to know anyone else’s part, except where it intersected mine. The play came off wonderfully – everything worked – and that was the point! Every individual did their individual job, and it was the Director’s job to make all those parts mesh together and come out as one thing – the story of Oliver Twist with music. And it did.
Let each be and do as the Spirit directs within and manifests without, and let the Father worry about how it will fit in with the others! He knows HIS business!
You BE you!