The church of Jesus Christ is not a building. It is not a denomination. It is not a sect. It is a fellowship of all his followers in union with Christ, living in the mind of Christ. Whatever differences there might be among us, they are as nothing when compared to being a part of the body of Christ. Who is your loyalty to? Is it your particular parish that comes to mind? Or your denomination and its set of beliefs? Or is it to Christ himself, to living in His mind, to being a part of the body of Christ? Nothing else matters. Or maybe I should put it this way: Only our living in His mind and His truth and depending on Christ in everything is what matters. Everything else, all the differences among us Christians, belong to the world. For “he is the head of the body, the church.”
Our churches are where the people of the church of Jesus Christ gather and worship and express Jesus’ commandments to love God and our neighbor and each other. Where we support one another and stand with each other In the ups and downs of life. Where we serve others. Where we give of ourselves. Of course, a church is not where all of that happens, but it is a haven of love and forgiveness in this world. But the members of each church still need to belong to the body of Christ.
So if you are proud of your beliefs and think that any Christian who doesn’t believe in the same way about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit is not going to heaven, beware that you are living in the world, not in the kingdom of God. If you would judge other believers, then you are living in the world of mankind, not in God’s kingdom. If you separate yourself out from other races and ethnicities, and think that you are better than them, you are not living in God’s kingdom. These are the distinctions that men make, not God. God created all men and women in His image; we all share the fruit of being His sons and daughters. And as soon as we repent of all these heresies, we will be welcomed into the one church of Jesus Christ. Then we are no longer Presbyterians or Catholic or Methodist or Evangelical or any other distinctive thing that would separate us all. We live in the kingdom of God; we flourish in the one church of Jesus Christ. We are all equals in the church, the body of Jesus Christ.
There is only one way that we can come into the body of Jesus Christ—that is to put our entire lives in His hands and let Him heal us of all that separates us from His teachings, from following Him in everything. Let Him highlight our sins and then put them in His hands for healing. Let Him heal all the past guilt and shame. To walk with Him in prayer and to focus our attention on Him throughout our days is to walk gradually into His kingdom and live there equally with all other people who put Him first in their lives. That is the body of Christ. And those who live in the kingdom are those who are living out their purpose in this world, doing the work that God has given them to do, fulfilling the promise of their creation and to help bring in the kingdom of God in this world.
This is not accomplished by judgment, for we must know that we are sinners, too, but by love. To love another person is to listen to their stories, to validate their worth in God’s world, to embrace them as they are—all that most of us want is to be acknowledged and welcomed as we are. This fulfills the Second of the Two Great Commandments to love our neighbors as ourselves. Because that is also how God is expecting us to come before him—with all of ourselves, all of our hearts, souls, minds and bodies as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:25-37: that is, with all of our guilt and shame, with all the love we are capable of, with all our sin and mistakes, with everything that we are, that we have said and done, and—with the “image of God” that He created in us. Only then are we, and our neighbors, fit for the kingdom of God. It is the truth about ourselves, about everyone that will set us free. We are to live in the truth and then we live in God.
Questions to ponder over the week: Wherein does my religious identity lie? In my church and its teachings? Or in my relationship with Jesus Christ? Do I just believe in Jesus or do I follow Him wherever He leads me? If Christ is not my focus, what is standing between me and Him? What would I need to give up to make a deep relationship with Him possible? (Just choose the questions that call me or respond to whatever Christ is saying to me now.)
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who put Christ first in all things. May we have a deep relationship with Him and follow Him wherever He would lead us.
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Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life.
I am collecting conversion stories. I am still not sure what the Lord’s intention is for collecting these, but if you would care to share yours, I would only use your initials to identify the author.
 Colossians 1:18
 Genesis 1:27
 John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”