We have many birds on our front veranda. There are Noisy Miners, Indian Miners and Magpies. Now and again a King Parrot appears and Rainbow Lorikeets scold other birds in the flowering gum. Pigeons sit on the TV antenna next door and coo at each other. Noisy Miners dart in to seize the breadcrumbs being thrown to the magpies. The magpies warble outside so that we will come out and give them pieces of meat or bread. The birds do not have to strive to fly. They just fly. They sing and dig for worms and take joy in being themselves. We can do this too. We can just be ourselves. If we are astute enough to live Christ our life, rather than the religion of Christ.
PICKING LIKE BIRDS
If we have a mind to do so, we can develop a Christian Religion with scant regard to the teaching of Jesus and the apostles, and the Bible. We can ignore the wisdom of the Church Fathers and treat them as though they never were, dilute Reformed Theology and promote a kind of Christianity that is a version of the knowledge of good and evil. We can turn the cross on its head, downgrade the atonement and ignore the incarnation on the grounds that we think Jesus is a hard man who reaps where He did not sow. In other words, we do not believe in life in the Spirit because we are making a life for ourselves in the law – on in some nuance of it.
The truth is that The Son of God was incarnated among us as the Jesus of Nazareth – the Son of Man who was God and is God. If Christ our life – the incarnated God in us - is too much to believe, then it follows that God appearing in the world as Jesus Christ is also un-believable and we have no God and no salvation. The consequence is that we are forced back in our thinking into the separation from God that Adam began. In Adam all are dead. But when Christ is our life we are alive. We need to live in Father God and not live in the lies of the father of lies.
MORALISM IS NOT THE GOSPEL
Maybe we have made an un-gospel of the real Gospel because we have embraced and promoted a gospel of moralism rather than Christ as the life of the World. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus because Jesus presents Himself as life, as forgiveness and belonging and not a modified version of Moses. Jesus’ strongest words were not applied to sinners. His rebuke was given to those who would not receive Him as their life. There is condemnation but it does not come from Jesus. It comes from us. We condemn ourselves when we avert our eyes to invent a gospel of our own.
It takes some time to realise that Jesus did not bequeath us a religion in which to live. Some never get this and never flourish as their true selves in this life as a result. They live as an expression of fundamentalism, or in intellectualised religion or as a disciple of a belief system. Those for whom Christ is life, are free because they are not smothered in layers of religion. They live from themselves.
CHRIST YOUR IDENTITY
From themselves as sons and daughters of God that are an ‘I am’ who is a person with a real identity. They are living without artifice because in Christ they have become a real self. One can be a self in religion but here one is always a construct and never ‘you’, a son/daughter of God in spirit and in truth.
One with Father we can become an ‘I am’ of ourselves because we are hidden in Christ to be re-created as sons rather than as workers – workers are people who are always working to be who we want to be. But one with God by the One Spirit, we are sons who grow in the expression of our real selves and leave behind the husk of the false self – a construction of us that occurs in independence from Christ, especially when smothered in layers of religion. Leaving religion behind to live in life itself is the start of the new birth. You become you when Christ is your life.
JESUS LIBERATES THE YOU OF YOU
James is not talking about the law of Moses which is a law of bondage and frustration. The law of liberty is the person of Christ and you in oneness with Him. ‘Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it--not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it--they will be blessed in what they do’ James 1.25.*
Francois Du Toit observes that, “The law of perfect liberty does not rely on man’s ability and disciplined performance to obey and perform routine regulations and commandments. Like the law of gravity, this law works spontaneously within a specific ‘magnetic’ field of influence. Living under the law of Moses or any moral law for that matter, depends entirely upon the individual’s willpower and self-discipline to consistently adhere to and obey the requirements of the law… Under the law of obligation, doing remains a duty and not a spontaneous lifestyle. So much of religious zeal and energy involves man’s endeavour and effort to do things that will hopefully qualify him to be accepted by God. But sadly, within the day-to-day experience of most, the sense of distance between the Creator and the creature remains a reality.”
If you know people in in the law, you will have sensed that they are not intimate with Jesus. Neither are they intimate with themselves. They can in fact think those who are so joined to Christ, are peculiar or going too far – further than religion as the ideology to which they themselves are committed. But the latter live in the freedom to be alive, whole and holy as themselves because Christ - not religious bits and pieces - is their life.
*If you have been raised in the law you will have been taught to read this passage as if it is referring the law of Moses.