“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
~ Jesus in John 15:4-5 NASB
A famous movie quote says, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world he didn’t exist.” I believe the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to deceive the Church of her identity. We’ve forgotten, as a whole, Who we are, let alone Whose we are. We can understand, theoretically at least, that we belong to Christ. But to see that we are one with Christ – that we are Christ’s body, therefore, the physical expression of Christ on the earth, then that is a divine revelation.
Frank Viola writes in his book, From Eternity to Here, “One of the highest revelations you and I will ever receive is to see the Church as Christ in corporate human expression.”
The apostle Paul’s revelation of Christ was just that: the totus Christus, or Total Christ. It was the revelation of Christ the Head and Christ the body being one, total Christ – one new man.
In the above scripture, does Jesus say, “I am the vine and you are a bunch of flowers picked from me?” No, but that is what the church has become. Over time, we have become individual Christs, single stem roses picked from the bush. This stigma of individualism has permeated the church and robbed her of her identity in Christ. Jesus has become our personal Lord and savior and lost the power of His Headship over His body through the Holy Spirit. It has been a replay of the Fall. Instead of walking as one with God and partaking of His life (the Tree of Life), we have become divided, individualistic people who want to be like God and partake of a different life (the tree of the knowledge of good and evil).
But Jesus sees us as one with Him.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”
~ Jesus in Matthew 25:34-40 NASB
When our Lord first spoke to Paul, He made it quite clear whom He thought Paul was persecuting.
…and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
“Who are You, Lord?” he said.
“I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting,” He replied.
~ Acts 9:2-5 HCSB
Jesus could have easily said, “Why are you persecuting My church?” or “My body?”. But He doesn’t. In fact, He couldn’t have said it any differently at all, because anything different would not be true. Christ is one with His body. You do something to Christ the body, you do something to Christ the Head. “Why are you persecuting Me?”
Armed with this powerful revelation of the Total Christ, Paul points a church who had lost her identity back to the Truth.
“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many.”
~ Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17 and 12:12-14
Lord, make known to us our identity in You. We are not divided from You, but we are one with our Head, Jesus Christ. Open the eyes of our heart; give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Amen.