WHY SOME ARE ALIVE AND SOME ARE NOT
Ideas don’t hang disembodied in a culture. They enter by way of persons and they leave the same way. Our Gospel can be the Gospel of Jesus the Father and the Spirit or an aberration. Our gospel can be a gospel that is the apostles teaching or a version of the knowledge of good and evil that delivers something and nothing.
Christ our life is Christ’s life as ours. Old covenant law-bound religion contains us in Adam and Moses when our inheritance is oneness with God. Gregory Boyd writes, “Our lives are meant to be centered on the confidence that God will share his eternal life with us as well as on the reverent acknowledgment that we are not to seek that which God reserves for himself. We are not to try to be God. We are to leave to God the knowledge of good and evil.” (1) Thus we step into the un-adulterated life presented by Jesus, the apostles, the Church Fathers and reformed theology.
ROOTED IN LIFE PERSONIFIED
The un-diluted Gospel of Jesus, Paul and John is a message of life unto life because it is sourced in the hub of life – the trinity. It makes its way into the lips of the sons and daughters of God and their lives when Christ and not the knowledge of good and evil is their life. We can make careers as workers. But we lead apostolic lives as son and daughters of God in oneness with God. Apostolic ministry and old covenant religion is a contradiction in terms. With Christ as our life we Represent God and we are His life.
NEVER AN ABSTRACTION
God is Relationship as is seen in the trinity. So are we, as seen in marriage and the family. Just as God is three, humanity is male and female, as the word says, made in the image of God. The hub of the universe is firstly persons and simultaneously persons in relationship. This is the quality of relationship that springs from togetherness and individuality is love. Genuine love comes from persons and never from the law. If we really love people we will not direct them to the law. We will direct them to Christ.
TRINITY IN YOU
Relationship and love are multiplied in the trinity which is the model and the empowerment for human individuality and community.
Thomas Torrance wrote,
“Our knowing of God engages in a deep circular movement from Unity to Trinity and from Trinity to Unity, since we are unable to speak of the whole Trinity without already speaking of the three particular Persons of the Trinity or to speak of any of the three Persons, without presuming knowledge of the whole Triunity - for God is God only as he is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He cannot be conceived by us truly otherwise (Torrance 1996, 173).” This is a perichoretic description of trinitarian being and the relationship in which we are included and formed in life as sons and daughters of God.
We are not humanly able to copy this communion in diversity or simply assume it. It is ours through incarnation. Because God comes into our flesh by the Spirit all that blesses the trinity in being the trinity becomes ours as part of our new covenant Christ life. In the new covenant we do not have a dualistic existence. There is no ‘us’ and separate from us an abstract righteousness to which we must conform. Christ is our life and therefore our righteousness.
Jesus did not endorse or perpetuate God plus this other entity called the law. Jesus is the minister of His life as your life; His belonging in God as your belonging.
Paul talks of ‘Christ our life’ and John stresses the importance of ‘Christ come in our flesh.’ Firstly the Christ of God is incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth. Following the cross, He and the trinity are incarnated in you and in all who receive Him. This is why the law is redundant, why you have oneness with God and why you can be holy as God is holy because Christ becomes your life.
‘Realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20.
We can attempt to live in the flesh and hijack Jesus to help us do so. Should we choose, we can do things like see the word ‘community’ and attempt to conjure community up. But it will not coalesce and grow. Not unless we are living in the reality that we and our Father are one – so that all that is the trinity is all that is becoming us.
The new covenant is not a point of view. It is the difference between our living in our inheritance from Jesus and leaving this inheritance in the ground.
Again, we can seize on a fruit of the Spirit and attempt to live it – which is a contradiction to the nature of a fruit. A fruit like ‘patience’ is the result of the Spirit of Christ living as us. It is not another and more subtle kind of new testament law. Sadly, if we live in a law culture we will capture both Jesus and ourselves in a legalists cage. In the law we have a cock-eyed frame that twists Jesus and perverts the Gospel of Jesus and the apostles.
LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
God is personal and relational. The human face of God is Jesus Christ. By the Spirit God is a real presence in the world and is incarnated in you – bound into your being in your interwoveness with the trinity. Christ has come both in the flesh and in the Spirit since you are real bearers of His presence. God is not rattling around inside you but interwoven into your being. Thus Jesus urges us to enter the reality created by the enterprise of the trinity: ‘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 NIV. Those who have been living this are already transfigured with God’s presence. They live in a degree of wholeness and joy that cannot be understood by the inmates of religion. This is why for many Believers, ‘That Day’ needs to be today.
CLOUDS WITHOUT RAIN
We can live in a literary Christianity of words, positions and beliefs. We can live an intellectualized Christianity. We can live out the knowledge of good and evil with Jesus help under the false impression that we are living the Gospel. Or we can live in the simplicity of Christ our life as sons and daughters in actuality – which is in spirit and in truth.
Paul called ‘other gospels’ a curse. If conditioned by a culture of the law we will instinctively reduce most life in the Spirit to abstractions and figments of the letter that kills. The letter kills because the letter robs life of life. It causes us to make claims to be the body of Christ while denying us the substance. As Paul said, ‘clouds without rain’ and people tied to the body of death. In the new covenant we are one substance with God. In the mindset of the law and old covenant we are not.
As keepers of the law, we can effect a kind of grace. Such a grace is superficial because its source is us and not union with Jesus. It is us trying to be Godly as a legalist. “We are not to try to be God. We are to leave to God the knowledge of good and evil. The fundamental cause and evidence of our separation from God, and thus the fundamental cause and evidence of our inability to receive and give the fullness of God’s love, is that we violate this prohibition. We transgress the boundary God set between God and humanity. We assert ourselves as a source center instead of being content as a complementary center that receives everything it needs from the source.” (2) Don’t be among those who reject Christ as your life as the Way, because you have been taught to see yourself as the center in a law-culture of self-effort, that lives in imagined separation from God.
Gregory Boyd, Repenting of Religion, Chapter 5.