Many of us have lived in a meagre understanding of the atonement, the message of which was that if you don’t have all your sins forgiven or worse – if you have not overcome every sin - you are done for and God’s atonement in Christ will avail nothing for you. It’s a law-induced, sin-management gospel of the kind Paul calls, ‘no gospel at all.’
A COMMON FALLACY
A Christian woman once assured me that intimacy with Jesus is something that is ours through overcoming sin. She was wrong about that. Dodgy ‘atonements, leave the atonement to be secured by us by doing things like ‘keeping close to Jesus’ or doing things that make us worthy of Jesus, which means that we are placed back where we were before the cross - outside of God and separated from Christ.
There are perversions of the gospel in which the Believer not only attempts to come to God but to earn favour with Christ. Double jeopardy.
MORE THAN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS
Law in Paul’s terms covers the Mosaic law, our personal system of self-defined righteousness and the cultural norms of denominations and the church at large. Not that these are irrelevant. It’s just that they are the expression of God in you and not the means of your union with Him.
When Paul says, ‘Christ our life’ he means that Jesus is our at-one-ment, our justification, our sanctification and regeneration as a human being.
NEGATING THE CROSS
‘I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Gal 2.21. Note that this warning from Paul follows His declaration of the vicarious humanity of Christ, which is the new and living way that undoes the old way of Adam’s confused ‘death culture.’ It replaces Adam’s separation with the ‘oneness’ of Christ our life.
You might be surprised at how many Believers have made ‘a life’ out of trying to be worthy of Jesus. But this is not a the life God has for you. It’s dead men walking. Your rest and glory as a person is Christ expressed as you.
NO SEPARATION IN CHRIST JESUS
‘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. With many Believers this is yet to be realized. When it is we are born again.
When this happens in the Christian Church the new creation will emerge from the tomb of institutionalism into the streets, the factories, the government and the economy. We will have the Kingdom of God in spirit and in truth. And we will stop consuming the Earth.
YOUR INHERITANCE IS YOURS
A good deal of christian culture and belief assumes separation from God with religion having been made the means of overcoming separation and securing union. The fact is, that we are already one with Christ and one with God having as our inheritance the fellowship Jesus has with Father and Holy Spirit. This is Christ our life. We are extravagantly blessed far more than many people know – who settle for being consumers of Christianity and dependent on others to mediate what they can have themselves – because it is theirs.
God is not locked up in churches or temples. The incarnation has disbursed God into you so that you can ignite the world with His spirit and life.
ATONEMENT IS KEY
Stephen Morrison outlines the three essential facets of the at-one-ment. “Padah means that Jesus’ death is victorious, and we are set free. Kipper means that Jesus’ death is death’s death, and in it our sin is destroyed. Goel means that Jesus is our union with God, and in Him we share in the Great Dance.” (1)
What is the Great Dance? It is the joy of the fellowship of God, our union with Him and our oneness with ourselves and the creation on account of Christ our life. The Great Dance is the Celebration of life in Jesus Christ.
There is no link to be made up by you or I between ourselves and God. But we do have agency. Our work is to believe God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent to undo separation and death. Our work is to be teachable enough to believe His gospel as radical as it is because it overcomes all alienation and smites the religious person’s sense of entitlement. It does take an effort of the kind Jesus called His yoke and His burden – which He emphasised is ‘light.’ All other burdens are heavy, particularly religious burdens, especially when they involve seeking rest for human restlessness through externalities, rites and observances.
He is your life. He is your light and the life of the world. Jesus is your life now.
(1) Morrison, S. D.. We Belong: Trinitarian Good News (p. 114). Beloved Publishing. Kindle Edition.