I noticed the title of an article in a Christian magazine entitled, ‘Going to Seminary Does not Make you a Good Christian.’ Neither it does. The paradox of godliness is that doing good things does not make us Godly. We might imagine that it does and many of us have been taught that it does. But we will have found in our own lives, if we are in any way sensitive, that these things provided a framework for living but that despite what we do and no matter what our routine of ‘doings’, we remain only partially godly selves.
GRAB A BIT OF IDENTITY
Then again, we may claim godliness because we have selected a piece of morality or singled out one of Moses’s commandments and made a cause of it or a denomination. If we think about it, to imagine we are holy because we keep a holy day, wear a hijab or help deliver meals on wheels, is laughable. Well it would be, if it were not so tragic. Even under the old covenant people were not righteous just because they were circumcised. They were righteous when their heart was right.
TRUTH OF HIS LIFE
In the post cross age, righteousness in not ours due to the performance of rites or even the attempted keeping of the commandments. We are righteous when we agree with God that Christ is our life. ‘Righteousness apart from the law’ (Rom 3.21) means righteousness that has nothing to do with the law. Please understand that grace is not a means of coping with the law. Grace is more radical than that. Grace is incarnation. It’s Christ’s life as your life. Jesus urged us to embrace the radical grace that He is to us. ‘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. The day we realise this is the day we are born from law/religion into union with God.
HEALED AND TRANSFORMED
We are not, as Paul was, charged with arguing that we should do evil in order that good may come. We are saying that Jesus has dealt with your sin problem so that it is no longer the focus of your life. Jesus has positioned Himself as the center of your life so that you can become obsessed with life rather than riven with guilt or a plethora of pieties. Yet grace is more radical still. The incarnation means that by the Spirit, Christ is expressed as you. To persist in this reality is to grow into who you are as a son/daughter of God.
God is in us. This is the grand truth of the post cross age. Because of the incarnation God is where we are and in what we are doing. Believe this and live in it. It’s the key to transformation and the means of multiplying Christ’s life. Being anywhere has the capacity to make us Godly. Allow the incarnation to imbue you with the active spirit and life of the trinity. This is the basis of the anointing and the gifts. Union with God – which is already yours - is the seedbed of the Spirit without limit. As it was with Jesus, so it is with you. One with God you are positioned to manifest the Spirit with huge potential for invading earth with heaven. But more important than this, each Believer become a ‘face’ of Jesus Christ.
PRELUDE TO LIFE
I was raised in a fundamentalist religion. We did not smoke, drink or dance. We adhered to our ‘doctrinal verities,’ followed the practice of prayer and Bible study and attempted to guard our bodies, if not our minds against the pleasures of premarital sex. Some of these observances have utility. But they are rightly named ‘externalities.’ They may be adopted as a framework without their having any real effect on the state of our heart and the nature of our being. The agency of ‘Christ our life’ is that Jesus becomes us by the Spirit.
FIRST PART OF LIFE
Richard Rohr tells us that the first part of life is made up of experiences that spell failure but that this realisation positions us for re-birth. We are beginning to see. When we have lived externalities and acknowledged the success not delivered, we are well positioned to enter the DEEPER LIFE – the life in which our being is in God and He is in us. We begin to live in this union to take on the character and demeanour of Jesus, the Son of Man.
CHRIST OUR LIFE
My friend told me of an amusing vision someone had. They were talking to Jesus and he said quite candidly and without condemnation, ‘The trouble with many of you is that there are some improvements in your living that you thought were you’re doing. But it was not you. It was me in you. You need to live in me much more. Embrace me as your life and I will live my life in you.’ We can enjoy each other, and you will have more fun being a more victorious self.
We can choose this life. It takes what has been called a ‘leap of faith.’ It’s walking on water compared to a life in the law and being a human doing. But the great advantage is that Christ has come in our flesh. We do not become just a better ‘do gooder.’ We are marinated in the Spirit of sonship flowing into us from the son of God. We become more, our real selves and live towards and from our design, touching lives with the life of God.
If the Enemy can keep us in a lesser form of being by giving us a ministry in which we do good, yet remain in the old covenant with a dormant spirit and a comatose existence, he has had some success. He has inhibited the Kingdom of infinite life and made us an apostle of numbness rather than a vessel of spirit and life. None so blind as those involved in doing good while remaining workers and slaves. ‘But what does Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son’ Gal 4.30 NIV. We will not live in the spirit of sonship in the law and as workers rather than sons we will release only droplets of the Kingdom of God.
We can, if we choose, sideline this opportunity of sonship on religious grounds a because we have an identity in our beliefs and our community that we value more than an identity in Christ. And so we continue to walk in the illusive mirage of externality, ignoring the only reality that is Kingdom fruitfulness – Christ come in our flesh. ‘Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’ 2 John 1.7 NIV. They do not acknowledge Him come in the flesh because they insist He has come in the law.
HEDGE OF LIES
Should we insist on our way and our life we must deny Christ’s light and make a ‘light’ of our own. “Lies are a little fortress; inside them you can feel safe and powerful. Through your little fortress of lies you try to run your life and manipulate others. But the fortress needs walls, so you build some. These are the justifications for your lies. You know, like you are doing this to protect someone you love, to keep them from feeling pain. Whatever works, just so you feel okay about the lies.”
Sure, we may feel ok about embedded in comforting lies, but we never get to see the elephant in the room or live as Kingdom people filled with spirit and life. We just walk round and round like drugged lions, looking for another key to open the treasure we already possess.