“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfil my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.” ― Thomas Merton.
How do we be who we already are? We agree with Jesus that He is our life with the result that we grow into our true selves. The Body of Christ is the community of saints who are becoming who they are – their true selves morphing into daughters and sons because Christ is their life. The Body of Christ is what Jesus made us in Himself by joining us to God in Himself. This is to say making us one with God in His own person - who is a human-being and fully God or as theologians say, consubstantial with God. That which gives us eternal life, infinite life and the nature of God as persons and as sons is this personal life of Christ – this trinitarian life manifesting as John, Jill and Mavis.
As Jesus said, ‘Those who love me will obey my teaching (that I am your life) and ‘we’ will come to them and make our home in them.’ In contrast Paul warns of a body of death – those who are the ‘not body of Christ’ who have chosen to retain themselves in this body of death which is the law and Adam’s separation that has since been undone by Christ’s physical and living body and who indwells the obedient.
Who are the Body of Christ? Thomas Torrance writes, “The primary constitutive facts, then, are the one faith and one baptism, coordinated to the activity of the one Spirit, the one Lord and the one Father. The true Church is marked by its unity and holiness, and by its fidelity to the Holy Trinity. One Church is to be understood strictly in that context of belief in the Holy Trinity.”(1)
Why the Holy Trinity? Because the new status of God’s people post cross is God in us. Let’s be clear. It’s not God producing morality in us. It’s God being us.
Torrance’s focus, as it should be, is on the coming of the dramatically new and living way that negates the old covenant, the temple, the law and the separation wrought by Adam. This ‘way’ is persons and is God in us and with us, so that each of us by the indwelling Spirit becomes the manifestation of God. Such are the sons and daughters of God and such is the church ‘built without human hands’.
‘Realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV.
“Since God the Father has communicated himself to us through the saving economy of his Son, the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ, it is the incarnate Son who naturally constitutes the real focus for the doctrine of the Trinity, and the regulative centre with reference to which all the worship, faith and mission of the Church take their shape: from the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, and to the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit. It is correspondingly the New Testament teaching about the Church as the Body of Christ incarnate, crucified and risen, that provides the immediate focus and controlling centre of reference for a doctrine of the Church founded and rooted in the self-communication of the Holy Trinity.”(2)
‘Oneness’ is not a new way of doing. It’s God’s intended way of ‘being.’
Because of God we have oneness with God. “Oneness” is our possession which is why we do well not to dilute this union with self-effort, religious accretions, jumping through hoops, attachments to the law, an obsession with ‘keys,’ holy days, holy places and the many varieties of religion that are really a substitute for His life. ‘One with God’ we do what Father is doing. One with God we have the Spirit without limit who is part of our being and not some out-rigger anointing.
The bread and the wine are not a source of life. They are sign and the reminder that you have a life that is the result of eating Christ. Jesus said, ‘Those who eat me will live because of me.’ This is no ordinary living. It’s a life of oneness with God, oneness with a healed self and oneness with others. This is John 17 in spirit and in truth.