A woman I know is a prayer person. She believes in prayer not as magic but as a key element in a genuine relationship with God. ‘Not many of them come to prayer meeting,’ she confided. ‘When they do they pray prayers that are superficial and trite.’ She speaks of the religious prayer – the kind I specialised in once and the kind in which we say what we think church folks are meant to say. ‘They are church-goers’ she observed. ‘But they pray as they do because there is no genuine reality of God in their lives.’ A relationship with church is not necessarily a relationship with God but many live in this illusion.
As I have indicated recently as a result of reading T. F. Torrance the Kingdom of Christ is not about a belief system because it’s not a construct of the letter. It’s about being – about what Torrance calls the ontological reality of God being with us and in us because Christ is in us.
In Christ you are joined to God. This is the issue of the ages, the undoing of the folly of Adam and the wisdom of God manifest in you.
We can do better than ‘guff’ with the gifts added. We have a real Christ who generates a real Kingdom by living in us and manifesting in our flesh. He becomes us and He becomes the church. This is the real Body of Christ as opposed to a notional Body that we might attempt by quoting a proof text.
A relationship with church is not a relationship with God any more than the sandals you wear are you. The best prayer is our oneness, our conversation and our being with God as we live in our day. The religious person has a Sabbath day. The son of God has a Sabbath-life because He and the Father are one.
NOT AN AFFECTATION
Prayer is not a performance, but it is an indication of the degree of God in our lives. If God is actually in our lives and we are in God, the importance of things like saying ‘grace’ and our ‘devotions’ take on a new shape and a new meaning. The meaning they take is the result of union with God. How we relate to God is our own business but the quality of our relationship will differ if Jesus is our life compared to Jesus as our religion. If you live from the fact that you and Father are one you live in the state of being one. This is the union Jesus lived with His Father. This is not some new kind of works. It’s what you already have in Christ.
Christian Kettler writes, “The vicarious humanity of Christ speaks of the wholeness, the beauty of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. This harmony is initiated by God’s solidarity with humanity in the incarnation. Again, the downward movement of solidarity, from God to humanity comes first, succeeded by the upward movement from humanity to God in Christ’s vicarious faith and obedience to the Father on our behalf. In this act he becomes our substitute, not only in paying the penalty for sin, but also in the entirety of our humanity.” (1)
Kettler is saying that the two are made one in Jesus Christ.
We are one with Christ and one with Him in His relationship to Father and Holy Spirit. This is an achieved oneness. Achieved already by God on our behalf. The upward movement Kettler speaks of is simply our resting and our ‘being in God.’ We do best when we add nothing to it and just receive and live in it for what it is: Union with God. This is the womb of the sons of God.
(1) Kettler, Christian D.. The Breadth and Depth of the Atonement: The Vicarious Humanity of Christ in the Church, the World, and the Self: Essays, 1990–2015 (p. 38). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.