Any belief in Jesus Christ—however small—is far better than any amount of belief about him.
I had a conversation with a brother the other night, in which he told me he was having a hard time with some things he was seeing about another brother. The issues were about things such as how the possessions he had seemed excessive, he seemed standoffish, he didn’t seem willing to open his home up to this other brother, etc.
We talked a bit about the issues, but what was true is that the problems all had to do with a relational issue; this guy didn’t truly know the other. He knew things about this brother, but he didn’t have a relationship with him that was more than just the basics.
It seems to be a pretty common issue in people, and it’s sure one that God addresses a lot around here, because it’s impossible to live that way in a corporate way of life.
It’s easy to admire someone, learn all kinds of things about them, and end up feeling like we know them well.
“Yeah, me and Joe, we go waaay back.”
But then something will come up that will totally dumbfound us.
“What were they thinking?” We wonder.
We should know. If we’re calling ourselves a part of the Body of Christ, we should have relationships with the people around us that are so deep that they are a part of us. It’s not enough to have facts, such as their likes and dislikes, favorite colors, movies, foods, etc. All of those kinds of things are just skin deep.
Therefore, from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him in this way no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.
Even Jesus, after rising from the dead, wouldn’t allow his disciples to know him by the flesh. He acted pretty strangely when he revealed himself to the disciples.
Like how only the second thing he says to Mary Magdalene in the garden is: “Stop clinging to me.” (John 20:17)
Or how, in chapter 21, when the disciples are out fishing and some guy appears on shore telling them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, and they don’t recognize him. John’s the first to figure it out, and tells Peter, “It’s the Lord!”
That wasn’t due to the fact that they couldn’t see him clearly. Even when they get to the shore and they’re sitting around the fire with him it says, “None of the disciples ventured to question him, “Who are you?” knowing that it was the Lord.” (21:12)
Or how, in Luke 24, he appears to some of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and again, they don’t recognize him–not until he breaks the bread, whereupon he immediately vanishes!
Imagine that. Jesus wants them to know that it’s him, but as soon as they figure it out, he leaves! Or he wouldn’t let them cling to him, and appeared to them looking like someone else. Why?
Jesus was teaching his disciples that they could no longer know him after the flesh; they needed to know him after the spirit. Their relationship with him had always been great; they were with him constantly, enjoying his presence. It was probably really satisfying to them.
But it wasn’t satisfying to him.
Their relationship had been a physical relationship. But from his resurrection on, it could no longer be a physical relationship, it had to be a spiritual relationship.
Too often, we learn so much about Jesus, but don’t really know him. Salvation is a man, not a plan.
And, as part of his Body, that is how we are to know one another; not by the flesh, not by the outward things, but by the connection of the Spirit of God inside our hearts.
That struggling brother can go and talk to the person he was having a hard time with, and could even get all of his questions answered. But unless he invests himself in joining his heart with that brother, learning who he is in Christ, there will soon be another set of problems for him to struggle with.
But if he allows his heart to be joined to that brother in heart, and truly learn to know him in Christ, most issues really aren’t issues anymore.
He’ll find, as I have, that the brother who was causing all this struggle is one of the most caring individuals he’ll ever meet. He works his guts out taking care of people every single day, and has given up everything to further the Kingdom of God, and would give everything he’s got now up again at the drop of a hat. Yes, he’s got some things which are better than me. But he doesn’t care about them. His foremost thought, 24/7, is taking care of the Body.
But if we live in the flesh, and have our relationships only surface deep, we can miss seeing those kinds of things in people. These beautiful, incredible, godly beings around us get reduced to just plain people, instead of the containers of Christ that they are.
David, great post! Hadn’t considered the full implications of why Jesus approached the disciples in such a way after the Resurrection.
And, as always, thank you so much for your hospitality this weekend. If you would, can you email me (you should have the address from this comment) your email address and the email addresses of ariel, ben, ben, your brothers, etc? Thanks much.
Thanks for the comment, Eric!
You’re always welcome here. It was a delight to have y’all at the village again.
We’ll make it down there to Atlanta again soon!
Good post! We had ladies group tonight and we were talking about how we should be treating one another. Dealing with friendships, marriages, households and conflicts. I really appreciated what you said and the encouragement to KNOW after the Spirit.
So good being with all of you and look forward to October!
Wow. That’s really well written. I don’t mean the grammar. I mean it’s really clear and easy to get hold of.
This is the kind of thing that’s worth saying over and over again because it’s so contrary to our overconfident minds. Well, I know I need it over and over again.
@Charlotte — thanks! Glad this helped.
We’ve got to remember that, yes, we need to deal with the issues that come up, but most, if not all, of the time these issues are really just symptoms of a deeper problem, which is that there are places in our hearts and lives that are not Christ yet. God uses these things as catalysts to allow light to penetrate our darkness and shadows. Our brothers and sisters are mirrors for us, allowing us to see the truth about ourselves, which we really can’t see accurately by ourselves.
I love Ephesians’ picture of this:
“…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.“Ephesians 4:15–16, NASB
We are supposed to grow up to be just like Christ. How? By speaking the truth in love to one another. The Body, the Church, is fit and held together by what the joins supply… the joints aren’t really parts of the body, per se, but the connnections between the body’s members. And if each member of that Body, meaning each saint, isn’t working properly (doing their part of speaking the truth in love), that benefit will not come, because the connections with those members isn’t life-giving.