What a joyful experience for us in this church age‒to be part of a congregation drawn together with the magnetic fascination of the desire to know the presence of God and to sense His nearness (Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer, Moody Publishers, Chicago, 2017, page 130).
Yesterday evening the Life group which meets in my wife’s and my home considered the presence of Jesus in his body on earth (the church) guided by chapter 15, “Ever With Us,” of Jesus: The Life and Ministry of God the Son–Collected Insights from A. W. Tozer (see above). The chapter consists of a lengthy introduction, a section called “Commemorating With Christ,” and four Reflect questions. Here I’ll summarize the introduction and “Commemorating With Christ” and pose and give our Life group’s responses to the Reflect questions.
Tozer opens the chapter by affirming that the church is not just an institution but a communion, which he defines as “a body of Christians having a common faith [and marked by] sharing and participation” (Tozer, Jesus, page 129), and that Christ is always present with us. He demonstrates from Paul’s account of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 the trouble that we can get into if we don’t recognize Christ’s presence with us. Apparently that church accompanied its observance of the Lord’s Supper with a love feast in which the members were to share as in a potluck. However because of cliques the rich were eating more, some even getting drunk while the poor went hungry. Paul attributes this to their not “discerning the body” (1 Corinthians 11:29, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV), which Tozer equates with not “recognizing the Presence” (Tozer, Jesus, page 131).
Commemorating With Christ
In this section Tozer considers five relationships of Christ:
– his “devotion to” the Father’s will
– his “separation from” men and from their network of trivialities
– his “rejection by” mankind and, when bearing our sins on the cross, by God
– his “identification with” us
– his “acceptance at” the throne of God
Tozer concludes the section and chapter thus: “The same is true of His people. Through Him, we died! Identified with Him, we live, and in our identification with Him we are accepted at the right hand of God, the Father. This is the meaning of our celebration.” (Tozer, Jesus, page 137)
1. What are the implications for seeing the church as primarily a communion and not an institution?
Our Life group said that our seeing the church as primarily a communion and not an institution should draw us together as described in the quotation with which I opened this post.
2. Tozer claims that we are in “spiritual trouble” if we do not recognize the presence of Christ. What sort of trouble do you think results from not recognizing His nearness?
Our Life group said that our not recognizing Christ’s nearness could result in the same kind of self-centred behaviour as it did in the Corinthian church.
3. How does Tozer’s description of Christ’s presence encourage or challenge you?
Our Life group said that Tozer’s description of Christ’s presence encourages us to see him in other Christians and challenges us to act as if he were present.
4. How does knowing that you and all Christians are identified with Christ shape the way you view yourself and other believers?
Our Life group said that knowing that we and all Christians are identified with Christ causes us to view all of us as accepted by God.