My experience in the institutional church taught me that Christ was somewhere far off and I needed to do something to draw Him near. I needed to perform certain actions for Him to come closer. My worship and prayer needed to be done in the right way for Christ to come and be with me. If I couldn’t focus or I was bored then I was bad and Jesus wasn’t going to come. When I was into the music and focused on worship then I was good and Jesus would come. This idea of Him being with me was signaled by a certain feeling in worship. I would feel a certain way when Christ drew near. I have discovered that idea looks an awful lot like the Old Testament worship of the Jews or a tamer version of the pagan worship. What I was experiencing there wasn’t necessarily Christ, they were emotions either about Christ or about the song we were singing.
The pagans felt they had to repeat things in order to get their gods to come. They chanted over and over phrases. They would offer sacrifices of something to get the gods to bless them.
In the Old Testament the Jews had many practices they had to perform to be clean and ready for worship. These were ordained by God through the Old Testament Law. They bathed and cleaned themselves both physically and spiritually. Yet what was God’s purpose in ordaining these? In the New Testament through our brother Paul we learn that the Law was a tutor to show us our sin. Without the law I wouldn’t know that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. In chapter 7 of Romans Paul’s dilemma isn’t in Christ, but in the Law. “Why can’t I keep the Law?” is his cry. Romans Chapter 8 reveals the relief from the dilemma, it is Christ!
Jesus truly is the focus of our faith. Jesus is the center of our salvation. I have tried to be perfect all my life in order to be loved by God and others. I have finally figured out, as my brother Paul did, that Christ took my place and now I am free of condemnation. Sin no longer has a hold on me…meaning that I am no longer marked by it. It doesn’t mean I wont sin again but it means that Jesus’ blood has taken care of the sin. I don’t have to do anything to make myself cleaner. Does that mean I have a free ticket on sin…may it never be. A person who is in Christ will be transformed. We will be changed. Our hearts will become like His heart. It may take time but Jesus and God the Father will do the work to transform us into His likeness.
So the Old Testament Contract or Covenant has been completed by Jesus…it is finished (Read 2 Corinthians). A new Contract or Covenant has been established through Christ (read 2 Corinthians). So here is where the closeness of Christ comes in. We as believers in Christ have become one with Him. He is in us and we are in Him. As the Vine is connected to the branches so is He connected to us. As the Head is connected to the body so is He connected to us. The curtain was torn in half and taken down in the temple. We don’t have to do anything to be in His presence anymore. We are already there if we are in Him.
What I am not saying is that worship is wrong. What I am saying is that Christ and we are one. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is among us. We are His body and He is our Head. We are His branches producing fruit that He has ordained us to produce and He is our Vine.
Be at peace my brothers and sisters in Christ…He is there among you already…enjoy Him. Stop calling Him to come and start enjoying Him.