Within numerous institutional churches there is little expectation to be transformed into the likeness of God. The reason for this may be that it is due to a continuous emphasis on unworthiness before God, and a juridical pronouncement of being forgiven, but never with the expectation that the scriptural goal is completion or maturity or “perfection” (holiness) - the complete experience of deliverance from the fallen state, and the manifestation of the sons of God.
Paul's prayers in Ephesians 1&3 are magnificent in that he dismantles the basic “doctrinaire rocket boosters” if you will, so that moving beyond the basics of “being saved”, we are provided with a strong vision of ourselves as “church” - the embodied fullness of Christ Who fills all in all on earth! The jump needs to be made from legal status justification into the experience of ever-increasing manifestation of the sons of God (always of course in Christ Jesus). Salvation goes beyond fire insurance, so to speak. It means having been delivered from the dominion of darkness into the reign of God, manifesting the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
St. John says that of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace (see John 1:16). Ought this not to begin to arise in our awareness that this overlong childhood and adolescence of Christendom needs to be left behind, to put away childish things to become a man? For the times upon us require the mature who will go into spiritual conflict, not with weapons of a world or fleshly nature, but mighty through God to the dismantlement of the strongholds of evil! This is not the place for those who are not ready.
The current lack of depth in the house of the Lord results from an "encouraged low expectation” from the lofty clergy (experts) to the lowly laity (recipients of the particular denominational perspective). Sadly, as in culture, so in the church is the lowest common denominator ever repeated. It is like spiritual foot binding - being expected to walk in baby shoes into adulthood! It seems we are almost never exhorted to maturity, or maturity simply is defined as participation in programs and activities within a congregation. But where is the real development of the inner being into the likeness of Jesus Christ?
Why are our “eyes of faith” - our God intended vision - so dim? Paul prayed that this would not continue. Might we pray, “Lord, please lift this dimness from our eyes that we may behold You as You are, ourselves as who we are in You, and where we are in You, seated at the right hand of our Heavenly Father - high above all principalities, powers, might, and every name that is named in the heavens and earth.” Those bestowed with this understanding need to pray it into manifestation within themselves and on behalf of the rest.
Oh that we would grasp the fullness of the Gospel truth of our, shall we say, “co-ness" as co-heirs in Christ!!! Let this full blown truth be the word of our testimony, whereby we overcome the evil foe and all his lies and works in this life! For the knowledge of our new reality in Christ and the affirmation, confession, declaration, and proclamation of it is to be in agreement with what God says about us in Christ. This is the victory that also overcomes the world. And with this word of our testimony we also proclaim to the regions within our inner being, setting forth the truth that sets us free from the shackles of self and sin! Amen, for so it is in Christ!
God, per Scripture, has set us “there” - Above - while we were yet sinners and in the “here” and now, so in essence it is to be perceived that this is not a matter of ascending to but a coming forth from. It is the reality wherein we live, move, and have our being - from whence we address life, the outer world, others, and circumstances.
The comprehension and apprehension of this must be preceded by the vision of faith, without which we are indeed in unruliness that leads to perishing (See Proverbs 29:18). This is what the Body of Christ still needs - the heavenly vision of what real redemption in Christ is all about.
Paul continually prayed for it. He admonished us in Philippians 4:9 that the things we have learned, received, heard, and seen in him are what we are to do; then the God of peace may be with us.
His prayers - specifically in Ephesians 1 & 3 - ought therefore to be prayed again and again in the 21st Century. Fervently. Without ceasing. I believe that this is a key to the answers needed for a languishing church today. Current crises threatening from within the Body of Christ, as well as outside of Her, will not be solved by committees and the ways of corporatism, since the church is not a democracy, but is the kingdom of God. Could it be that challenges will find resolve on our knees before the Almighty asking for the Vision of Christ in us, and ourselves in Christ Who is our wisdom? Could we dare advocate for prayer meetings instead of voters’ meetings?
Let it be so. Amen.