Because of grace it’s possible to live in retarded versions of Christianity as a cripple with a pronounced disability. But Jesus has come as grace and truth. With Him as our life we can live a continual adventure that is a daily advance into spiritual wellness and wholeness as sons of God. Grace and truth are a pair. They enhance each other and they enhance you as a daughter and a son. As persons we can be either growing or slowing. As a son/daughter we are in a continual state of becoming. That is if we allow ourselves to be so. If we are in Christ, enveloped in His Personhood this will be our experience. If we have diminished Christ by making Him subordinate to the law or an adjunct to a belief system from which we want to derive status – then we will have negated His personhood and ours by implication. We will have stagnated and begun to shrink.
‘For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes’ Luke 12.33 NIV. The essence of this life is found in this scripture ..
LIFE IN THEMSELVES
‘For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself’ John 5.26 NIV. When Christ the person is our life this life is our life. In this mode we have life in ourselves. As Jesus is a living definition of life so are we - because His Spirit pervades our being.
It’s possible to die before you are dead. It is persons who are alive. New covenant persons for whom Christ is them. The primacy of persons is why Father revealed Himself in Jesus and why Jesus asserted that to see Him is to see our Father. Persons are revealed as persons – never as anything less than persons. This is why we honour God and ourselves as daughters and sons.
Legalism and its sister, religion, diminish personhood. Visually this might be described as the difference between a living body and a skeleton. The living body represents us as a person. The skeleton represents the self as a function of the law and religion. This was pictured prophetically centuries before Jesus came to bring life to dead rib-cages.
‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life’ Ezek 37.5 NIV. We can decide in favour of breath or we can choose to remain bones. Living from old covenant assumptions we are bones. Our soul is dead and our spirit is un-ignited. This is why John is so abrupt in his assertion that: ‘Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.’
Many Believers are not fully alive as persons because their souls remain sick and their spirits remain dead. Yet life is theirs. All can accept this fullness. We are alive in spirit and life when we have entered our inheritance and allowed our inheritance to enter us. This is the interweaving of God’s being with ours and our being with God’s being.
‘On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14,20
In Jesus we live, move and have our being and in so doing we enter our glory and advance from glory to glory. We are persons who are the sons of God. Expressions of His life, we impart life to those labouring in the shadows of death.
STAGNATION AS RELIGION
Some folks cease growing as a person at age seventeen. They live in a cocoon of limited ideas and never emerge to fly. Others remain stuck in their old selves and original assumptions all their lives. New birth to them is a notion and not a reality. We are reborn from Adam into Jesus, from the old covenant to the new and from life in the knowledge of good and evil into life in God - if we choose to be. Jesus invites us to leave our body of death. He does not force us.
“Personhood is not a static notion, but an entirely dynamic and relational one (per sonare) that is shared between the divine persons and all human persons—by reason and gift of their creation.” (1).
Personhood is not static. It is not contained in categories. Personhood is both unique and the product of relationship – of our relationship with God and with others. But there’s more. Personhood is of the spirit and not of the letter. The letter stultifies. The spirit is life. Spirit is the thread that unites us with God and He with us. We are truly alive when we know, understand and LIVE IN what Jesus achieved for us the at-one-ment.
‘I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’ John 14,20.
Contained in the law we cannot know God or know ourselves. Cut off from personhood in this way we cannot empathise fully with others or share in the lives of those who have chosen spirit over law and personhood over abstractions. Our ability be in community is stifled and our relationships in the Body of Christ are notional rather than an authentic experience of spirit and truth. But here’s the thing.
Absorbed into the life of a personal Jesus, we enter a personal relationship with the trinity. The relationship that they have with each other becomes our relationship with them and at the same time our relationship with God. Having entered holy communion in its foundational form, we are one with our Father, one with ourselves and one with humanity. Now we share this ability to commune and empathise with each other - not notionally - but in spirit and truth. We have joyful communion with those who have left behind the coagulation of religion to live in the empathy and fellowship of God.
(1) Rohr, Richard. The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your transformation (Kindle Locations 1269-1270). SPCK. Kindle Edition.