For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they who live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again. Therefore from now on know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet from now on know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2Co 5:14-17 KJ2000)
Do we seek to know one another after the Spirit? The apostles and many in Israel knew Jesus after the flesh. They saw this man from Galilee walk among them, do miracles among them, heal many of them. He taught them and even fed them food when they were hungry. But did they know Him after the Spirit of God within Him? Most did not. When Jesus asked the disciples who men said that He was they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say Elijah, and others say one of the prophets.” They only knew him after the flesh, but Peter was given revelation of something more. Jesus asked them again, “Who do YOU say that I am?” To this Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter in that moment was given revelation by the Father as to the spiritual nature of Christ and would eventually know Him after the Spirit and not just after the flesh.
Two disciples were walking along the road to Emaus after Jesus died on the cross and this man came along and walked and conversed with them. The only knew that Man after the flesh, even though He opened the scriptures to them and showed them that Christ must suffer many things and die and rise again. It was not until He took some bread and broke it and gave it to them that their eyes were open to see Him “after the Spirit.”
Paul was not one of the disciples and it is not know if Paul ever saw Jesus in person before He died on the cross, but that would all change one day when he had an encounter with the living, resurrected Christ on the road to Damascus where he was heading to persecute the members of Christ’s body. He was so shocked by the vision of this Being that He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” To this Jesus answered, “ I am Jesus whom you persecute…” OOPS! Imagine what was going through Paul’s head right then! The people who believed in Jesus who Paul hated WERE Jesus, this all powerful Person who just knocked him down and blinded him! Members of HIS body were suffering and dying at the hands of Saul the Pharisee who later became Paul the apostle. Back to the drawing board! All stop! His self-righteous Pharisee days were over and he became a member of the body of Christ that went forth to give life and nurture it in every way he could.
Oh, that we who are called Christians today would first know Jesus after the Spirit and then start to know one another after that same Spirit that abides in Him and one another. How differently we would treat each other. How we would prefer one another in the love of God. How we would honor one another and honor the gift of the Spirit that abides in each of us. How we would nurture each member as Christ loves His church and gave His life for each person in it. Paul exhorted the church saying, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor [in honor preferring one another]. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord” (Rom 12:9-11 RSVA). Do we prefer one another over ourselves? Do we prefer Christ in one another over our selfish estimate of who we are and the love we have for “our own ministry”? Do we try to outdo one another in showing His love for each member of the body?
When was the last time you asked Jesus to show you how HE see that brother or sister you fellowship with, especially the difficult ones that just seem to rub us the wrong way? Can you see that gift He has placed in them and nurture it and encourage them to function in the gift? Do you see the treasure that God has put in them for the benefit of the whole body and not just “your ministry”? Do you see each member of Christ’s body as a jewel in the crown of God?
Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spares his own son that serves him. Then shall you return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serves God and him that serves him not. (Mal 3:16-18 KJ2000)
Or worse yet, are we persecuting Jesus in the way we treat members of His body? I hold that if we have no fear of God, we will also not have any fear of damaging or doing harm to the bride of Christ. Remember, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Let us be wise in the way we treat one another and “outdo one another in showing honor,” preferring one another over ourselves.
Let us mine the depths of the riches of Christ in one another, dear saints. The church of Laodicea is seen by Jesus as poor, miserable, blind and naked. The church is sick today because we do not rightly discern the body of Christ. It might be well if we would often ask when confronted with another member of Christ’s body what Paul asked that blinding day on the Damascus road, “Who are you, Lord?”