Jesus states firmly that the result of His Cross is union with God. Not just nearness to God and toleration of us by God but far more. In Jesus Christ we are woven into God and God is woven into us in the same kind of union that the trinity enjoy with each other. ‘They’ make their home in our being. ‘Jesus replied, Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and WE will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14,23 NIV.
Jesus also declares that the oneness we will enjoy as our inheritance is the same kind of oneness that the trinity enjoy with each other. He prays, ‘The glory which You have given Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me’ John 17.22,23 NIV.
‘It is finished!’ Adam’s separation is undone. You are graced with union with God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Many Christians live in the illusion that they are separated from God. So they make religion out of behaviors to undo this separation. But we are not separated. The belief that we take ‘Steps to Christ’ in order to be received by Christ is misguided. HE HAS TAKEN STEPS TO US and because of the at-one-ment, we are included in His life. We participate in the union with God that is ours by agreeing with Jesus that His life is our life. We are graced with His life and we celebrate this at the Lord’s Table where we affirm that the Bread of life is our life.
Jesus is not here to help is ‘keep the law.’ He is in us to be us. Many Believers have been raised in a kind of ‘contract’ in which we ‘do this’ so that God will ‘do that’ namely award us with eternal life or keep company with us so that we can benefit from His influence. This may be a common ‘gospel’ but it is not Jesus’ Gospel. You don’t earn anything in the Kingdom He began. He has gifted us belonging with God and communion with Himself. Grace is larger than many Christians think. Grace is not a word and not an abstraction. Grace is Jesus. Your holiness is Jesus as you. This is your Jesus graced life.
GRACED WITH HIS PERSON
Jesus graces us by being Himself, by being Himself in us. The result is that as an individual we have become one of the many faces that make up the Face of Jesus in the world. Thus the Body of Christ. If you are like me, you may have noticed that your received, law-based religion did not afford much resistance to sinning. How could it? Jesus being righteousness and life itself gives us resistance to these attractions and more. He infuses His life-giving being into every part of our being.
We do better to live from life-consciousness in Christ our life than in sin-consciousness which is the law. Let’s be clear. Jesus does not grace us to cope with the law. He graces us to BE HIS LIFE. This is incarnation which is the foundation of the Christian Church.
There’s nothing mean about this Grace. It’s huge because it is His life as ours. Your fellowship with God is Jesus Christ. You are positioned in the Communion of the Trinity in Jesus Christ as Paul says, ‘We are seated with Him’ (Eph 2.6). In Jesus Christ, the triune God has reached out and enfolded you into God.
Paul writes of ‘Christ in you’ and John talks of Christ come in our flesh. Both are referring to the incarnation which is amazing in its grace – a grace so radical that Paul calls it ‘Christ our life.’ The incarnation is the foundation of the post cross age of oneness with God that we celebrate at the Lord’s Table. This is not an occasion to mourn the cross. It’s an occasion to celebrate that Jesus makes us one substance with Himself as He taught when He said, ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you.’ The opposite is the case. If we live from His incarnated life expressed through us, we will participate in His life because WE WILL BE HIS LIFE.
CHRIST IS US
If you know any scarcity mentality folks (misers) you may have learned that they are not good at enjoying purchases for themselves. They have an obsession with how much every item costs – because they see their life as being essentially about survival. Our life in Christ is not some kind of making the best of a scarcity mentality. Out life in Christ is not Christianity. Our best life as a person and a church is OUR LIFE AS HIS LIFE. The mystical paradox of life in the spirit is that we are ourselves and that Jesus is us.
TO BE BOUND IN CHRIST IS TO BE TIED TO FREEDOM
People who live Christ as their life rather than religion are not tied to categories. But they are tied to Christ because they are one with Him. Since they are one substance with Christ they can rejoice in being themselves to grow into who they are in the glory that is them. The words ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ are not about some ethereal realm. They are about our coming into our true self because we are hidden in Christ to be revealed as sons and daughters of God. There is a sense of well-being, of humour and joy about such people that is not found in the religious.
Faith occurs in us because Christ is in us, woven into our being. Our reaching out to God is Christ reaching out to God in us. Christ does not inhabit us and be our life because we work hard enough. He imparts Himself to us because our spirit is joined to His Spirit by nature and by grace.
IN YOU AND WITH YOU
If you are a gardener you may sense His presence with you as you plant and till the soil. Jesus is present with us particularly when we enjoy what we are doing in any field of endeavour. Christ is not only with you when you are in your prayer chair. Christ is in you because Christ is in you. There is no sacred and secular in Christ. There is union with God in Christ. With Christ as our life we are one with ourselves, one with others and one with the creation. Such Believers can be very funny because they have a jubilant-rejoicing in oneness with Christ. Not having to prove or demonstrate anything, they can live in the fun of being themselves with the fruitfulness that is Jesus expressed as them.
Faith comes from union with God. It wells up in us because Christ has drawn us into Himself. Union and faith are not ours because we have earned it. They are ours because God has drawn us into Himself in Jesus. But there’s more. Jesus lives in us by the Spirit, which means the trinity lives in us. Our part is to recognise and rest in what we already have. With many of us the incarnation is a revelation. Once we learn to live in this reality on non-pious communion with Jesus our relationship becomes a life rather than a religion.
‘When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.4 NIV. ‘ Glory’ is not our pieties or ‘bright stuff.’ With Jesus glory is to be Himself. With us glory is to grow into who we are in Christ. There is nothing more glorious than a person releasing life simply by being themselves.
Thomas Torrance observes that “Faith has to do with the reciprocity, and indeed the community of reciprocity, between God and man, that is, with the.. faithfulness of God and the answering faithfulness of man. .. The covenant faithfulness of God surrounds and upholds the faltering response of his people.. We must think of Jesus Christ as believing, trusting and having faith in God the Father ON OUR BEHALF AND IN OUR PLACE. Admittedly, this is a matter which many people, especially in our Western culture with its stress upon the integrity and freedom of the individual person, find it rather difficult to accept at its face value.” (1) Difficult or not. It is our inheritance in Christ.
DON’T LEAVE THIS TREASURE IN THE GROUND
Difficult to accept because there is an inherent drive to self-vindication in us. Surely there is some fragment of self-effort that we can rely on to vindicate our honour as Joe and Maud. Well, Joe, there is not. You do not earn Christ and you do not earn union with God. But it has been earned by God in Christ.
(1) Thomas Torrance, The Mediation of Christ, p.83