The DNA of Christ by Neil Cole
In the organic world, whether crickets or churches, DNA is the internal code that maintains the integrity of each multiplied cell. In every organism, DNA is what encodes each cell with its proper process and place in the body. In the expansion of the kingdom of God, DNA maintains the strength, vitality, and reproductivity of every cell in Christ’s body.
Just as the DNA is exactly the same in almost every cell of a body, the DNA is the same throughout the body of Christ, for all its members and in every cell. The DNA is the pattern of kingdom life, from the smallest unit (the disciple in relationship to Jesus and others) to the largest unit (a family or movement of churches). The pattern is the same, and its expression remains constant.
The Key Elements for Healthy DNA
The DNA of the church can be simplified tothree things, namely, divine truth, nurturing relationships, and apostolic mission. They are needed in every part of the church, from its smallest unit to its largest.
• Divine Truth. Truth comes from God. It is the revelation of God to humankind. This comes from the Son, the Spirit, and the Scriptures. The Son (Jesus) is both God and human and came to reveal to us in his person what God is like and what God requires. The Scriptures were authored by God and reveal God’s unfolding plan for humanity. The Spirit of God is also Divine Truth, since he brings revelation and direction to believers.
• Nurturing Relationships. Humans were never created to be alone. We are social creatures and have an intrinsic need for relationships. Our relational orientation is a reflection of the image of God in us. God Himself is relational and exists in a community—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is love because God is relational. To the Christian, God is love because he has always existed in relationship. Is love possible without someone to love? This should be the defining characteristic of our faith. All men should know that we are Christ’s disciples by the love that we have for one another.
• Apostolic Mission. Apostolic means that someone is sent as a representative with a message. We are here for a purpose. We have been given a prime directive to fulfill—to make disciples of all the nations. This part of us also comes from the nature of God. Jesus is an Apostle. He is the Chief Cornerstone of the apostolic foundation. Before he left this planet, he sent his disciples into the world with a mission.
Dangers of Genetic Engineering
We live in a day of radical advancement of science and technology spiraling out of control. We now have the ability to clone life, and even genetically engineer it. With these advancements comes great responsibility. Medical ethics has taken on a whole new level of significance. When we identify and map the DNA of Christ’s body, we also face dangers. Here are some crucial warnings.
Do Not Unravel the DNA
DNA is only potent when it is together. Once the component parts of the DNA are unraveled, they have little or no significance. It is the same in the church. Most churches will gladly exclaim that they have all three portions of the DNA, but they have unraveled it into separate components and so lost its power. “We have excellent preaching on Sundays, which is where we have the divine truth,” one will say. “And we have small groups during the week, which are our nurturing relationships; and a strong missions committee, which is our apostolic mission.” The key is not in having a separate ministry committee or program to handle each area. DNA must be whole, intact, and in every cell. In other words, every meeting, every ministry, every disciple must have all three components at the same time. To break down the DNA into separate components and put them in different places and times is to unravel the DNA. Then life and all that comes with it is lost. Mission without love is dead and can actually undermine the cause of Christ. Relationships without truth are dysfunctional and toxic. Truth without application in relationships and mission is delusional. To separate each part is to destroy the whole thing.
Do Not Subtract from the DNA
Whole DNA is crucial to the health and function of the body. It is complete in its simplicity and complexity. To subtract even a portion from it has devastating results. Many churches are given to specialization, thinking they will find a unique niche that makes them special. But if we concentrate on one part of DNA and eliminate any other part we will lose the whole of it—death and mutation are the result. For example, many traditional churches focus on teaching, and if they add anything else, it is an attempt to build stronger relationships. One reason traditional churches are not multiplying is the absence of the outreach chromosome. Many churches need a good dose of apostolic mission. In the human body, to be missing even a single chromosome results in severe retardation, and even death.
Do Not Add to the DNA
One extra chromosome in the human gene can result in Down's syndrome and mental retardation. A person with Down's syndrome is a person who can love and be loved, but this syndrome is not the expression of the body and life that God intended for us. It is a corrupted form that prevents the person from maturing and functioning in full capacity. Many traditional churches are unhealthy precisely in proportion to their mutation of DNA. They have added to what God intended, and it has slowed the church and halted all reproduction. It is quite tempting to add "good" stuff to the DNA. Unfortunately, whatever we add to the three basic components of divine truth, nurturing relationships, and apostolic mission results in bad side-effects—it dilutes the three components, and it elevates the additives to the same stature. It is better to let the DNA remain in its simplicity. All good things can be found within them, so do not dilute the importance of the three or elevate anything else to their level of importance.
A fuller discussion of the DNA is found in Organic Church by Neil Cole; particularly pp. 109-121.
<< Back to Features and Articles
Discipleship: Copies of the Original
by Chris Suitt
We must start helping people learn how to stay focused on and living in the presence of Jesus all day long...more
To submit an article for consideration on our website, send an email HERE with the subject line "Article for CMA website".