[This was a letter I wrote in response to an online conversation of our organic fellowship I am a part of]
Hey Matt & body!
First, I am concerned that those who may not know you as well as I do, may read the below email as if it was written with a spirit of contention. I know your heart & because I do, I know you wrote it in love. Anyway, I just wanted to make sure no one was distracted by a misunderstanding. Blessings!!!
Let me start by stating publicly how much I appreciate Matt & Elisa’s heart for the lost AND for Jesus’ body. Matt, I have always appreciated your lens from which you see Jesus & His body. You are right on when it comes to “obedience” (daily sanctifying walk) and it is born out of and rises from our new life (finished work of Christ IN us). Both your heart & Dave’s heart regarding truth are desperately needed, because it helps us be a healthier body.
I want to briefly further weigh in on this discussion. First, it is a beautiful illustration of Jesus’ body in action. Only when we share life together do we get the complete picture of HIM. Both Matt & Dave are right on. We work OUT that which WAS worked IN!!! Phil. 2:12b-13 says, “…but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Our life in Christ is not “positional” nor is it “legal”. It IS what it is. A new life for a dead man. As this new person, according to Col. 3:1 & Eph. 2:6, I have been raised (past tense-finished work) with Jesus and I am seated with Jesus in heavenly places. I AM forgiven…sanctified…holy…righteous…etc. etc. So…..now what?
Obedience without life (resulting in an intimate loving relationship) is religion and breeds death. In the NT, the phrase “bond servants” is used 12 times after the resurrection. What a glorious picture of our life in Jesus. You see a bond servant was considered as a true part of the master’s family. His gratitude & love was so strong for his master when he was an indentured servant that he wanted to spend his life in lovingly service to his master. True obedience IN CHRIST therefore, is a natural by product of the life we DO have as HIS SON’S/DAUGHTERS. What are we obeying after all? His voice…His heart…His passion…His desires!!! It is born out of a deeply intimate life with Jesus.
I spent a long time in my walk with Jesus “working hard for Jesus” and to be obedient & was also taught & told to so. This kind of life sent me deeper into a life of addiction and sin. Why? Because the law produces death…period. Yes obedience should definitely be a part of our lives, because it is the natural by-product of the life we receive. Hence the beauty of living in community together as His body. We should be sharing our passions & desires that Jesus has placed in us to encourage and stimulate growth in HIS body.
I think the challenge is somewhat semantical. Obey is a verb; Obedience is a noun. If you do a search, obey as it is primarily directed to the disciples, is used by Jesus prior to the cross & resurrection…hence under the old covenant. Whereas obedience (what we have in Jesus) is used in the New Covenant. Jesus was burying those He taught under the burden of the law in order to accomplish the work of the law which is to lead them to their Savior (Himself.) (Also read Gal. 3:24-25.) We need to be careful regarding the preaching of “obeying” that is not born out of life in Jesus (intimacy.) Why? I Cor. 15:56 says, “…and the power of sin is the law.”
As for 1 Jn. 2:6, the logical question is how did Jesus walk? He walked in absolute dependency on His Father as the very sustenance of life. Remember Jesus said He only spoke & did what Father told Him too. Again, this was born out of that intimate, real life that He experienced with our Father.
Therefore, brother Matt & Dave we must encourage each other to be diligent to DO somethings:
I am not writing this response as a defense to anything or as an indictment on anyone. I love the body & long to see us walk in love and harmony in the truth. We are ALL unique parts of Jesus body (life) and we each provide a glorious balance to each other. Let us walk in the obedience that is ours & walk in truth and total dependency on Jesus who IS our life. There is so much more that I would like to write, but I will spare you my beloved family…LOL!
I want to conclude with Peter’s words:
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”