We often think of the indwelling of Christ only in an individual way. It is true that we must experience this union in a personal way, but if Christ dwells in me individually, and Christ dwells in my brother or sister individually, we are brought together because of our common life in Christ. We are now brothers and sisters in reality. This forms the very foundation of what God is doing today. Jesus said He gave us the same glory that the Father gave Him so that we may be one, even as God is one. Then He follows, "I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:23). Thus, what God is doing is bringing us into a union, a fellowship, a oneness that is divine and miraculous. It is the reality of this oneness being expressed that God will use to reveal who He is to the world.
"Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually" (1 Corinthians 12:27). Throughout the New Testament, we see that God has designed to dwell not only in individuals, but in a company of people. When a gathering of people under the authority of Christ allows God to build them together, they form an expression of the church in that locality. It is true that Christ dwells in each believer by the Spirit, but an individual believer cannot contain or reveal the fullness of God. We are individual members of Christ, but the church is the body of Christ and it is there that the glory of God is seen in fullness. When we see this truth, it puts a great emphasis on corporate unity and our relationship with one another in Jesus.
The basis of our oneness can be found in the scriptures we have been considering from the prayer of our Lord. His prayer was that we would be one even as He and the Father were one. He says that this is possible because of the glory He has given to us. Do we begin to see the glory? It is glorious for an individual to know that Christ is in him, but it is even more glorious to know that Christ dwells in the midst of a company of believers that is bound together in the love of God. We are told that the fullness of God dwelt bodily in Jesus. Does Jesus still have a body on earth today? Is the church really the body of Christ? If so, then is the fullness of God still revealed in the body of Christ?
If not in the body of Christ, where would the fullness of the glory of God be seen? The heavens declare the glory of God, but they do not declare the fullness of His character. Only man was made in the image of God. Man fell into sin, but Christ redeemed us back to God. Because of Calvary, we can again enter fully into God's original purpose. The fullness of God is revealed in the church, the body of Christ, because Christ inhabits His body by the Spirit. As we enter into and abide in this union with God, we give forth a divinely originated expression of the oneness of God. "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Many today are missing this glory. They think only of themselves. They are satisfied with religious programs, content with listening to sermons and singing songs. They are satisfied to visit with each other or share a meal occasionally. But the oneness they are experiencing is not the divinely originated spiritual oneness that can be described as "glorious." The oneness God desires is that which testifies of and brings glory to Him. It is a witness in this sin-sick world of the presence and reality of God. Men saw Jesus when He was on this earth, and men can still see Jesus in His body when it is functioning underneath the Head and united in His life and love. The church is a real, visible company of people, dwelling in love and giving expression to the presence of God here and now for His purposes.
As is true with most things, there will be a fuller revealing when Christ comes back, and through eternity, but that does not diminish the expression now. Now is the time, and this is the place for us to be a witness unto Him--a real expression of the glory and love of God, expressed in grace and truth. Every member has a part, for all have received a measure of grace. As we submit to the authority of Christ and His grace expressed through every member, it keeps God in control and every member active in faith. As this truth fills our vision, it forms the framework in which we walk and glorify God together. It puts a proper demand on our relationship with God and with each other. It focuses our attention on God and the corporate testimony through which He is expressed in fullness. This is the testimony that God will bless, and it is here that men will see God.
Brothers and sisters, if what we are saying is true, we must let it judge everything that falls short of this. We cannot be satisfied with anything less than the true purpose of God. To function in this is entirely beyond the ability of man on his own, but Paul prayed to Him who is able to do "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." We need to think, and we need to ask, but we serve a God who is able to do greater than we ask or think. That should fill our hearts with hope, and our souls with glory. This is not a natural work, limited by man's ability, but a work of God, which we have the privilege of entering into. "Unto Him be glory in the church."