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Becoming the Visible Invisible

posted by Susan Dominikovich on ,

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We are, we are the visible invisible  We are the flesh and bone  Of Your redeeming love  We are, we are Your kingdom unshakeable  Jesus Christ alive in us  The visible invisible  (David Moffitt/Lee Black/Nicole Witt)

Paul and I have had the very special privilege of hosting a Bible Study in our home on Friday nights, fortnightly.  It started several months ago out of a personal need for drawing close to Jesus through the Word of God.  Paul and I made a commitment to each other that we would set aside this time for ourselves to study the Bible.  As it happened however, God placed some people on my heart and they readily accepted the invitation to join our study group.  We mostly come from different churches and backgrounds but share the same yearning for Christ-centred lives.  

Still, I thought it would be a temporary thing.  A time and a season in which it was necessary for us all to focus on Jesus and dwell in His Word.  A study Guide called Living in Christ by JI Packer and Carolyn Nystrom screamed "pick me, pick me" when I went into our local Christian Bookstore one day.  I knew it was a God appointed choice based on readings from John in the New Testament.  And from the very first study, the very first passages from John 13 and 14, the impact on us all has been profound.  So much so, that our little group has grown and we all agree that we want to carry on.

We had our last session from the study Living in Christ on Friday night, and a couple of people from our group couldn't make it.  I promised them I would write a little summary of our final study.  And that is why I am here.  

Our final study focused on Jesus prayer for "those who will believe in me through their message" in John 17:20-26.  It was His personal prayer to God the Father, for us, the night he was arrested and later crucified.  He had been telling the disciples what they needed to know about the time that was coming, preparing them for what was ahead and showing them how they must live.  And then he ends by praying, first for himself, for them the disciples, and finally for us future believers.

Jesus' prayer for us summarises most of what we had already been learning from John 13 onwards.  In John 13:34, we were struck somehow afresh by the reality of Jesus' words to his disciples, "A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."  We discussed at length that the command to "love one another" refers to us loving those in the church.  At other times He tells us to love our neighbour, the unchurched or unbelievers, but in this instance, Jesus tells us that we MUST love one another SO THAT others will know that we are his disciples.  In other words, the world will see Jesus in us.  He also tells us that we cannot do it alone, which is why he promises the Holy Spirit, our counsellor or in some translations, our advocate (John 14 and 16) and He also warns us about the troubles ahead because we will be in the world and Satan is the prince of this world (John 15).  So we must remain in Jesus because "in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  (John 16:33).  Then also, if we remain in Jesus, we will be bear fruit because He is the vine and we are the branches. (John 15).  

So when Jesus prays for us in John 17, he prays "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me"  (John 17: 21 bolding mine).  He repeats it when he says, "I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."  (John 17:23)

Complete unity.

That's where we got a little stuck.  A little disparaged.  

Complete unity.

And so I skipped the question in the book which asked, "Where and how do you see troubling forms of disunity between God's people?"  We didn't need to go there.  We all wore the same knowing and troubled gaze of realism and disillusionment.

Complete unity.  Surely, too much to ask.

And so instead I jumped to the question, "what are some of your most powerful experiences of unity with other believers?"  

We were quiet for a time but once we got our heads out of the disunity which is prevalent in a lot of churches and indeed in the global church, we were actually able to see a lot of unity. But on a much smaller scale and at a more intimate level.  We then shared experiences of listening to a preacher or a song-writer that we have never even met but connected with them in our spirit and felt that unity.  It's in those rare but special friendships with people who just seem to understand and know everything about us and love us still.  Quite often we don't see a lot of those friends, but when we do, we connect with them in our spirit and are unified.  Because the spirit of Jesus in one recognises the spirit of Jesus in the other.  I still have contact with my friends from Capernwray Bible College in England.  We became rooted and grounded in our faith together.  We all heard the same message from Major Ian Thomas and Charles Price amongst others, no matter what topic they were teaching or from which passage of the Bible:  Christ in you; the hope of glory.  

And then we looked at each other in the room that night.  We were unified.  Unified in our knowledge of Jesus and our seeking to have Him live in and through us.  Unified in our desire for authentic Christian living and community.  Unified in our understanding of how His Holy Spirit might work in our lives to teach us and to protect us. We were also unified by shared experiences and by being able to support one another without any judgment.  Because we have loved one another.  No, we're not perfect.  But at the moment, we are unified.

Complete unity.  Not too much to ask.

Why not?

Because we are alive in Christ.  Because God loves us as He has loved His son Jesus (v 23).  Because God's love is timeless and He has loved Jesus since before the creation of the world (v 24).    And most importantly, because Jesus promises in His prayer to God the Father that He "will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

We cannot have complete unity without love.  And we cannot love without Jesus living in us. But with Him and in Him, we can love and we can be unified.  In fact, we will.  It's not something we have to try to do, not something we aim for.  But the more of Jesus working in and through us and the less of ourselves, then the more loving and unified we will be.  That is central to living in Christ and to these passages in John.  We won't have to think about ways to love and how to be unified.  We just will.  Our loving and unification will extend beyond what we ever thought possible.  Because it's about Jesus and not about us at all.

And we MUST love and we MUST be unified, "so that the world may believe that you have sent me."  The world needs to see Jesus in us so that they too have a chance to believe.  Our lives need to bring glory to Him, just as Jesus' purpose was to bring glory to the Father.  That also is central to living in Christ and to these passages in John.  

Alive in Christ.  Loving one another.  Complete unity.  Glory to the Father.  So that others might believe.   

In closing on Friday night, I played a song for our group, called "Visible Invisible" by little known duo More than Rubies.  It is a powerful song which puts to music and melody everything we have learnt from these life-giving chapters in John.  It answers the questions how do we live and why must we live it. 


The words of the song, (written by David Moffitt/Lee Black/Nicole Witt) are my heart and my prayer:

The thirsty pray for water
The hungry beg for bread
The desperate cry for mercy
Run to them, run to them
The broken wait for healing
The orphans long for home
The slaves all cry for freedom
There is hope, there is hope

We are, we are the visible invisible
We are the flesh and bone
Of Your redeeming love
We are, we are Your kingdom unshakeable
Jesus Christ alive in us
The visible invisible

Your songs will wake the sleeper
Your truth will raise the dead
Your gospel burn like fire
To the end, to the end

And the love of God will rise,
Rise in us, rise in us
And the light of God will shine

Shine in us, shine in us

May we be so alive in Christ that the love of God will rise in us and the light of God will shine in us.  May we be your flesh and bone Jesus, the visible invisible.  Let your gospel burn like fire to the end, so that the thirsty no longer thirst, the hungry no longer beg and the desperate no longer cry.  Heal the broken, be a home for the orphans, bring freedom to those enslaved.  Show them that there is hope.  Through Jesus Christ, alive in us.  Amen.

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