The truth that the world was a sphere was originally viewed as nonsense. Everyone could see that was flat and that if you went too far you would fall off the edge. Similarly not a few Believers can make no sense out of Godliness as incarnation because Christ as their life is not where they are at. What they have seen and what they have been taught is the flat earth of the Christian version of moralism, the knowledge of good and evil and the law.
Christians don’t consider themselves followers of the law – but they are in a subtle way. They live from Christian values and Christian icons. There’s a hierarchy of morality in which sexual sin is at the top of the list and economic vandalism at the bottom. They would be a lot better as persons, more content with themselves and more disbursers of the life of God if they live in what Christ has given them – The incarnation being His life as theirs and Christ come in our flesh.
This is not what people were taught but it is what they should have been taught. It’s what Jesus taught and what John and Paul lived.
CHRISTIAN CONTRACT SYNDROME
What they are involved in is a contract that they imagine they have going with God. In this contract they do what they have defined as ‘god things’ so that God will do God things for them. It’s a bargain that gives many a sense of entitlement to God’s reward and they do it because they have socialised into thinking this is the way to eternal life. It is a ‘way’ but unfortunately the ‘wide way’ that does not lead to spirit and life in the present or in the future.
ABSOLUTELY NEW AND ALIVE
The new and living way that is radically different to flat earth market religion and market capitalism is not a bargain and not a contract. It is a gift. The gift of God in the present and the future is eternal life, which is an annoyance to some because it negates and counts as nothing their life-long efforts of earning approval with God. It’s galling to the religious to think that those who have been trying hard are bankrupt and those not trying at all are wealthy in grace, spirit and life.
NOT ABOUT ENTITLEMENT
“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ Matt 20.13-15 NIV.
The incarnation is resisted. Resisted by the rationalist, the legalist, the moralist and the religious. The persistent refusal of many Believers to adopt ‘Christ their life’ as their life and live entirely from the radical grace of Christ come in their flesh – the incarnation - indicates that many are glued to the idea that their life entitles them to His life. But it does not. Nevertheless many are able to live in the illusion that it does by cherry-picking certain behaviours and touting certain moralities and rites that they then universalise as their own ticket and even Messiah. Some churches have created a ‘Messiah’ out of the Sabbath.
BUYING AN ENTITLEMENT
Speaking of market capitalism and the culture of exchange, Richard Rohr observes, “We’ve got to admit, this system of exchange seems reasonable to almost everybody today. And if we’re honest, it makes sense to us, too. It just seems fair. The only trouble is, Jesus doesn’t believe it at all, and he’s supposed to be our spiritual teacher. This might just be at the heart of what we mean by real conversion to the Gospel worldview, although few seem to have recognized this.” Strange how there is a fascination with healing legs and ears and a lack of interest in healing the economy and society.
We cannot buy salvation and we have not earned His life as our own. Nevertheless it is a fact and has been present truth since the cross. Rohr continues, “Brothers and sisters, you and I don’t “deserve” anything, anything. It’s all a gift. But until we begin to live in the kingdom of God instead of the kingdoms of this world, we think, as most Christians do, exactly like the world. We like the world of seemingly logical equations. Basically, to understand the Gospel in its purity and in its transformative power, we have to stop counting, measuring, and weighing. We have to stop saying “I deserve” and deciding who does not deserve. None of us “deserve”! Can we do that? It’s pretty hard. . Unless we’ve experienced infinite mercy and realize that it’s all a gift.”
THIS GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM
This is so, not because Richard Rohr said it but because it is THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM - which is the gospel of Jesus and the apostle’s doctrine. You and we are holy and deserving because Jesus is deserving. You have been woven into God as a person and woven into the fellowship of the trinity in your being. The vicarious humanity of Christ who is God, makes you one with God, one with humanity and one with the creation.
REJECT THE FLAT EARTH AND REALIZE THE KINGDOM
‘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.
Life in the Spirit is incarnation from start to finish. It’s Christ as you. In the spirit is the only way Christ can come in our flesh. His life becomes your life and this without any loss of identity but the gaining of it – the gaining of our real self.
The outpouring of the gifts post cross, follows the end of Adamic alienation for a reason. It’s the consequence of union with God – of we and Father being one and entering the realm of the Spirit without limit. Part and parcel of this is our interwoveness with God. We are talking state of being. Not ticking boxes. An attachment to the law will subvert life in the Spirit. Life in the Spirit is not the gifts bolted onto the law and the old covenant. Life in the Spirit is you included in the Vine that is rooted in 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