To Reveal Christ 2017
by Fred Pruitt
(This is taken from a recent letter I sent to some friends. I took out certain personal things, and realized that this below is all of us in Christ.)
(Note: This article was originally posted on my “Voice in the Wilderness Blog” in 2012. Currently I am in Montgomery, Alabama, with John Bunting on a sharing trip. I am working on a new piece to post soon, but in the interim I came across this from five years ago and it seemed appropriate in this moment to repost it, after making some changes and additions in this new version… Sometimes I wonder about my choices to repost older articles, but almost always someone will tell me that what I sent hit a perfect spot for them and since the reason I write is that others will be built up and encouraged in the Spirit, I keep on doing it as the Spirit moves me. I am reasonably certain that will be the case for this repost. The article I am writing and hope to post soon has come from some of our interactions on this trip. It is tentatively titled, “The Last and Hardest Nut to Crack – Mr. Responsibility.”)
This upcoming fall will complete seven* full years since I went on my first trip as a “full-timer” with John Bunting, in October 2005. The forms your love and support have taken in coming to us, have been varied in every way, coming in both the spiritual and the physical day by day. Whatever way they come, at the bottom we know it is God loving us, confirming our service and supporting us. The extra benefit coming from your love and support is that we experience your intimate participation with us in our common commission in the Lord. I think this commission can be summarized in this brief word: “to reveal Christ.” That takes in just about everything. *(As of this writing it is twelve years since John and I began!)
Of course, we know our specialization in that revelation of Christ, is that we are commissioned to “reveal Christ” first in the individual. In case I am being unclear, let me then emphasize as emphatically as I am able, that I am saying my commission is to reveal Christ IN people, not TO people! Now, in the beginning of our experience, it seems as if Christ is revealing Himself TO us, but even then, it is not the case, but it IS the only way we can understand it in our early days.
The reason is that we all start life not really knowing who and what we are. Our common human perception is that we are all separate and independent entities who determine the course of our own lives by our talents, desires and choices. If “God” enters our picture, we “relate” to Him out of our own false sense of separation and independence. We are taught to have a “relationship” with God which is based on God (Christ) being somewhere else, apart from us. I have often heard people say that being “intimate” with Jesus is communing with Him as if I am sitting opposite a friend who is facing me, sort of “knee to knee.” That is a Christ Who is “revealed” to us as a separate entity.
That view works for us in our beginnings. However, most of us are taught that is always the case, and even though multitudes of ministers constantly exhort their flocks to “get closer to God,” eventually closeness eludes us, simply because we cannot complete it. The gap never closes between God and ourselves as long as we have a consciousness of separation and independence. Completion in God instead becomes the perpetual carrot in front of a donkey. You never get there. It was like that for some time for me years ago.
That is why our emphasis is on revealing Christ IN folks, and not TO them. The ONLY thing that completes us in Christ, i.e., that fulfills what the scripture means when it says to draw closer to God, is finding out we are “one” with Him. That can only happen if we know Him IN us! (John 17:11:20-23; John 10:30; John 14:10).
The Church is made up by its perfect parts. In our unique individuality, each of us is a perfect part for being some particular “stone,” perfectly trimmed and molded by God, perfectly placed in exactly the right spot by the Spirit. When “Christ is formed” (Gal 4:19) in a person, it is that person’s expression of Christ in the world, which both “reveals Christ,” and also confirms our perfection in Him as “lively stones,” who are built up to be a “spiritual house.” (1 Pet 2: 4,5).
This is the heritage of every believer, to come to the “knowledge of Him” within ourselves, and then out of that inner river we find within, to flow out in love as the Spirit directs. To repeat, it is this way the Spirit takes us, unique to each of us, that opens to us the revelation that we have been made in Him to be perfect stones, individually shaped to fit perfectly in God’s house, as God Himself places us.
Said another way, this means that by “being ourselves,” – of course our true selves born in Him and one with Him – we express the perfection of Christ and are a perfect fit in the true temple which He has built. We do not strive for unity in the Church, as if such a thing could be imposed from without by programs, constitutions, bylaws, hierarchies, etc. Instead, it is in the perfect fulfillment of Christ’s living in us wherever we are and whatever we are doing, that we find our “niche” in Christ’s church. We “grow up into the Head,” which has been God’s “plan” all along (Eph 4:15). Our brethren may or may not see that we are “there,” but in Him we do know, and continue to walk as He walks us.
Christ’s Church is already One. We do not add, to the already active oneness in the Spirit accomplished BY the Spirit, various methodologies for us to “get there.” We ARE there, because HE IS “the there.” We simply walk along, “walking in the Spirit,” as Romans 8 brings out, obedient to God (for one cannot be “disobedient” when one’s will is God’s will), and manifest Christ in our mortal flesh. There is no further definition of that. To me, that is the definition of the Church in its maturity, and it can be safely and neatly defined, with the same definition that operates each of the individual parts: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8).
Secondly, we “reveal Christ” in the world. Here, we shift our gaze from individual to universal. This is where the focus is not on our awareness of Christ as ourselves, (Gal 2:20; 1 Cor 6:17), and “getting fixed” by the Spirit in that. Having now seen that it is all a “done deal,” we move past that. Instead, we are moved into a universal focus, in which we “see” God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – as All in all.
And I’ll have to stop right here and say, before I go on, that this “sight,” of “God, All and in all,” is where we live in rest. The first great opening of it to me, came in 1981 when I read Jacob Boehme’s, “Where Is Heaven?” in Infinite Supply, a compilation of articles from Union Life Magazine’s earlier years. (See Where Is Heaven?.) When I read it, it seemed to tap the infinite in me, and for the briefest moment, I saw it, God All in all in all things! It was like the curtain hiding the Real was removed for a split second, enough time for me to see and comprehend, that there was no “place” which was not filled with God, that He was enlivening everything that IS.
As this revelation has grown in us, so has my corresponding continual questionings to the Lord, “Where is this all going? What are you up to here?”
It is somewhat easier to know what we are not doing. God is doing a “new thing” with us. Though we have been tempted, many many times, to become an “organization” or a “ministry,” we have continued to not go the traditional route of “ministry.”
Of course, the traditional route of ministry is a well-traveled and greatly mapped road. I think in the beginning of this portion of my life, that “traditional route” mentality still overshadowed a lot of my thinking.
What do you do when you hang out your shingle and say, “Have Word, Will Travel?”
The first thought is to do what everybody else has done, and what I had done myself in previous “bouts” of “ministry.” Which is really a whole milieu in itself.
Part of my problem is the usage of the word, “ministry.” I think a great Biblical “definition” of the oft-used word, as in Paul’s “therefore seeing we have this ministry” (2 Cor 4:1), would be something akin to “sphere of service.” That is, when Paul says we have this “ministry,” or take heed to the “ministry,” he was simply talking about his particular calling, service, or intercession (any of those words will do), which is why I define it Biblically as “sphere of service.”
And when compared to our modern usage of the word “ministry,” it means something else entirely. We think of something with an “Inc” at the end of it, as in, “Billy Bob Ministries, Inc.” We think of an organization, with mailing lists, a website, a stated purpose, a statement of belief, usually with a “main personality” at the center. One can really find no counterpart for such an entity in the New Testament. I cannot imagine that the Apostle Paul would, as in our day, operate under the auspices of “Apostle Paul Ministries, Inc.”
For what Paul and the other apostles did in the first century after Jesus’ death and resurrection, there are no manuals or systems. They did as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. That was the heritage, the “Apostles’ Doctrine” they passed on to us. Not some man-devised system or “blueprint” for building some “outer Church,” but the move of the Spirit in each generation, occurring spontaneously as the Spirit commissions each generation’s individuals who bring in that movement. Let us remember, God has no grandchildren.
Now I’ve really spun my wheels over this one. For long years, I thought we had to “do it” like those guys back there, in “Bible times.”
Ok, how do we start (to “do it” like they did it)? Well, first we need an upper room. Then we need to get 120 people in there. The first two steps aren’t that hard. This next one might take a while, though – “and they were all with one mind and one accord.” (Acts 2:1). Uh oh – we might be in trouble with that one!
Or maybe that is not the right approach. And I think we’ve hit it, here. To go back to try to “duplicate” what we “think” happened in the early church, is as fruitless as trying to figure out “what would Jesus do?” The “forms” of the past were just that, “forms,” but the “Goods of Christ” that the forms carry remain the same throughout all generations. It is not the form, but the Goods we want!
Therefore, wherever the “Goods of Christ” show up, we don’t bother too much about the “forms” they come in. Whether in a 10,000 seat church arena, or a 10 person group meeting in a home, or sitting sharing a beer with a friend at a bar, or by ones’ self relaxing and admiring the creation, the Goods sanctify the form! (And it is not the other way around.)
We are in a wide open time, where the sky is the limit! And there is great liberty in that wide-openness! Does not God say, “Behold, I do a new thing!?” He says this in every succeeding generation! It is never the “same ol’ same ol’,” with God! “Behold, ALL THINGS ARE NEW!” That is a present-tense verb! ARE new, not “were” new! So every MOMENT is new, every moment is “newness of life.”
Now, in all that, my point is this: the Spirit has us doing a “new thing.” All of us. Some of us are called to be “stay-inners,” i.e., those who the Spirit keeps in the “traditional” churches, to be as Joshuas and Calebs who travel in the desert with their brethren as beacons of faith to the rest, even though they have already seen the Promise. And some are called to be “go-outers,” i.e., those who by the Spirit leave the traditional ways and means of our “religion” and embark into new territories with new ways of doing things. In short, to borrow from Scott Peck, to walk the “road less traveled.” Either way, we see the increase of Christ!
I believe we are all in this together, each of us Christ in our individual expressions, and all of us together Christ in His totality.
I am so thankful that the Lord has put us all together, bonded together only in the love and intimate friendship of the Spirit, and that we each have this common calling, “As He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17) (What He has begun in us, He will complete, and even already has given us the completion in our hearts! )
The travels continue, the Word keeps flowing, and we are seeing the increase of the Father! Thank you for involving me in your lives and thank you for involving my life in yours!