I had gradually become aware that the cross is much more than about the atonement. It’s more than acquittal. It dawned on me through reading the Bible and being filled with the Lord’s understanding that the gospel that many of us had been socialised into was something less than it really is – a lot less.
If we have a churchy relationship with Jesus, we are not into Him very deeply. We probably are not ‘one with Him’ even though He is one with us. Living in a religious routine it’s possible that we will have little to pray about other than a bunch of clichés and time warn platitudes. I was one of these so I am describing a mode of life rather than throwing stones. If we live with Christ as our life we will not need the enhancements of ‘sentence prayers’ or other devices to say meaningful stuff. And we will be able to pray things of substance out of a lived experience.
So if we are challenged in prayer meeting it’s a safe thing to go on about the cross, thanking Jesus for something He is not himself absorbed in being engaged in ministering the results of that cross – the incarnation of the God-head in human beings.
If worship is a life, so is prayer – a life of oneness with God. It’s not contrived because we do not live in separation. Not unless we have been misled into this mindset by poor teaching. You need not be a holy Joe to enjoy this union. It’s the incarnation.
“When the incarnation is divorced from the atonement, the atonement becomes the subject of horrendous misunderstanding. I believe this has taken place in our western ways of understanding the crucifixion. In my experience growing up in the church, I understood the incarnation as a means to an end. Every Christmas in the back of my mind I would only really think of Easter. I was taught that this was the sole purpose of Christ’s coming, that Jesus might die for the sins of mankind. While it was rightly said that Jesus came to die, it was wrongly emphasized over the ramifications of that coming. So in my perception, I saw the crucifixion as the only purpose of Jesus’ life. He came to teach us things, yes, but mainly to die for us. I often thought then of the atonement as a legal transaction.” (1)
A legal transaction. This is a sliver of the reality that is Christ. The crucifixion prepared the way for Jesus and all of the trinity to live in you. The atonement is the entrance to the incarnation – the finishing of Adam to prepare the way of Christ our life.
Christ come in our flesh is the point and purpose of the cross and the result of the resurrection. Jesus is not in us and among us so that we can perform to a list of precepts, values or behaviors. He is here so that we can become our real self because the Real Man – the Last Adam lives His life in us.
(1) Morrison, S. D.. We Belong: Trinitarian Good News (pp. 95-96). Beloved Publishing. Kindle Edition.