Your Christ is Too Small

The promise of the new covenant is thus:

I will put My laws into their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ”Know the LORD,” for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. (Hebrews 8:10-12 NKJV)

Note the words “all shall know Me.” This is the beating heart of God.

To know the Lord is at the heart of the gospel. Yet how often do we hear it talked about today? Knowing the Lord is eternal life (John 17:3). It was the plea of the prophet (Hos. 6:3) and the passion of Paul’s life (Phil. 3:10).

I’ll be blunt: Either you and I can know God intimately or the gospel is a sham. One of the rewards of our Lord’s suffering is that we all shall know Him … “from the least to the greatest.”

We know God in the face of Jesus Christ. But the truth is, we can’t fully know Christ as an individual. We may only know Him fully through the new creation. That is, we know Him through His body (2 Cor. 5:16–17).

This particular understanding changed everything for me as a young Christian. My life was revolutionized when I realized that my brothers and sisters in Christ are parts of Christ; therefore, I had to learn how to listen to my Lord through them.

I also discovered that the Lord is constantly speaking. He speaks to us inwardly, through circumstances as well as through His own people—even at times when we are unaware of it.

If this is true (and I assure you it is), then how well we know the Lord depends on how sensitive we are and how connected we are to the other parts of His body.

My journey into Christian community taught me that the Christian life, in its core essence, is living by another life. It’s living by Christ. Yet it’s not simply living only by the Lord who indwells me. It’s also a matter of living by the Lord who indwells my Christian brothers and sisters.

I live by the Lord who lives in me, and I live by the Lord who lives in my fellow brethren (in whom Christ also dwells). God has designed it that way. Consequently, if we will know our Lord deeply, we must be connected to other members of His body in a concrete way. And it doesn’t hurt at all to include in that mix exposure to the great teachers of the past whom God has gifted to reveal Christ to His church.

Throughout my Christian life, I’ve met believers who had their own private walks with the Lord. They never knew Christian community, yet they had an extremely strong devotional life. Every person who fit that bill was lopsided in some arena of their lives. The reason? They didn’t avail themselves of the balancing and tempering of the body.

No Christian is wired to live an individualistic Christian life. Without Christian community, we cannot grow normally in Christ. We were designed to live with other Christians and receive their spiritual portion. If you doubt this, please read 1 Corinthians 12 with this possibility in mind.

Excerpted from Revise Us Again by Frank Viola