I was listening to a professor to talk about the corporate obsession with metrics. You see it in business and in the church. It gives the impression of being grounded in measureable results. The professor called it a numbers fixation. The paradox of it was, as he pointed, out an addiction to abstraction and an end result of diminished human quality of life. You see this in schools in the practice of teaching to exams and in Christianity in the reduction of Jesus to legalism. Life in the law is Christ demoted to the flesh. Life in the Spirit is Christ come in our flesh. When His Spirit manifests as us we get real results because we have moved from the shadow – the law – to the reality that is Christ in us.
Genuine human life is always found in Jesus realised. Jesus is realised in the Spirit in what Paul called, Christ in you.
REALITY IS CHRIST
The Spirit of God, though unseen is more real than we are. It may be said that we are only real in the body when we are in the Spirit.
The woman said, ‘Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem’ John 4.20 NIV. Jesus answer endorsed neither location. But it did progress the notion that following the cross the fullness of God would be in us and with us.
We can talk of the presence of God as though He is somewhere else, like somewhere we are not at the moment or somewhere that is more holy than ‘thou’ and than us. But Paul tells us that Jesus lives in us and Jesus Himself tells us that if we adhere to His teaching, Father, Son and Holy Spirit will make their home in our being. So Jesus is where we are in time and place. God is not enclosed in space or time or in a compartmentalised sanctuary or a fragmented world of secular and sacred. Through the cross and His blood He has made all things whole and holy. His is a holistic ministry par excellence.
‘And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ--everything in heaven and on earth’ Eph 1.10 NLT.
The incarnation is you in Christ and Christ in you. Athanasius taught, among other things that the incarnation is the key fact of the new testament age. The incarnation is the ground of our being personally and as the church. As such it is the engine of the Kingdom of God where Christ in us becomes His Kingdom in the world. There is nothing new about this, although it might appear new to the many who have been trained in externalities and surface motions. Incarnation is what Paul spoke when declaring the essence of the new covenant: In Him (the Christ of God) we live, move and have our being.
Thus you are joined to God in your being and as the church. In ‘I AM’ you are who you are and with Christ in you, the truth of God is exhibited to the world. Incarnation is what J Baxter Kruger describes using the word perichoresis. This is the “mutual indwelling without loss of personal identity” [of us in God and God in us]. In other words, “We exist in union with the Triune God, but we do not lose our distinct personhood in the process.” We are the manifestation of Christ and the trinity and the third person of the trinity is the Son of God and a human being.
IT’S ABOUT BEING
Mystics live from the incarnation. They seek the union of their being with God. God is more often found with the mystics than with ‘the doers.’ Paul declared that the mystery of the ages revealed among us is Christ in you. This state of being – of being one with Christ in God – is the source of any doing that has power, authority and genuine life. ‘Doers’ as practical and grounded as they might think themselves are the very ones that the poet T. S. Eliot names as having their head pieces filled with straw – in other words, scarecrows rather than sons of God. Every act of Jesus was filled with spirit and life. He was electrified with the spirit of life because He was one with the Father. This union is now yours – if you care to live in it and exchange your self-generated ‘truth’ for His being with you and in you. As well-equipped as many of us think we are – we need to be born again.
Richard Rohr writes, “Religion has tended to create people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy, glib answers. That’s why so much of the West is understandably abandoning religion. People know the great mystery cannot be that simple and facile. If the great mystery is indeed the Great Mystery, it will lead us into paradox, into darkness, and into journeys that never cease. That is what prayer is about.” (1) It is also what spiritual growth is about- constant leaving behind and constant growth as a human being and son of God.
So here is the thing. There are folks who are in motion but have stagnated long ago. Their spirits are dead and their minds are numb to the life of the Spirit even though some have made a ministry out of it – while tied to the law.
If we are still circling the mulberry bush in old covenant religion, we are not born again. We are living in old Adam instead of new Christ. We are under the tree of death, not joined to the tree of life and we are promoting the knowledge of good and evil as if this is Kingdom spirituality. But it is not. Christ your life is Kingdom spirituality and the only kind of spirituality that produces fruit that lasts. Sure we can write papers and books. We can have a well-regarded intellectual and theological life in the knowledge of good and evil with a Jesus gloss. But this is not the Kingdom of God because it is not alive.
OLD EGOS, OLD LIES
To find ourselves we must be willing to lose ourselves. Jesus said this many years ago. Losing ourselves theologically and in a spiritual sense can involve the bringing of our precious beliefs to the cross and abandoning our beliefs for His beliefs. His beliefs are clearly set out in the scriptures but if we have been brainwashed since childhood with a works culture we read even the Bible through these pre-suppositions. This is why it takes Jesus to remove our veils. But should we be intent on adding Jesus to our beliefs in order to maintain some denominational identity we imagine we have – we make it difficult for the Spirit to penetrate since we belong to those who have eyes who do not see and ears that cannot hear. Having two masters as James observes always results in our choosing the lesser over the greater. You cannot serve God and your own ego.
Richard Rohr writes, “Our skin-encapsulated egos are the only self that most of us know, and this is where we usually get trapped. It is fair to say that the traps of mind and ideology are as toxic and as blinding as the so-called “hot sins” of drunkards and prostitutes, though they are harder to recognize. Most of us have to be taught how to see; true seeing is the heart of spirituality today.” (2)
(1)Rohr, Richard. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (pp. 35-36). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.