“He became what we are so that he might make us what he is.” ― Athanasius.
In the grace of Christ we belong in His life, even if we are not across all the details of the ‘why’ of our salvation. Nevertheless we live in delight and the fullness of son of God when we live in Christ Gospel and not some distortion of it. Belonging to the Body of Christ has little relevance if we have a different christ and ‘another gospel.’ The best that can be said is that if we are sufficiently teachable, we will absorb the real Gospel of Jesus and Paul from those who have it.
THE WHO OF CHRIST
We might start with the nature of who Christ is. Jesus is one substance with the Father. He is one in His being in that He is all God and all man. Jesus is our way to salvation and the surety of salvation. As the Son of God and Son of Man, Jesus is our union with the Holy Family of the Trinity.
Jesus Christ was never an expression of the law. He was the image of our Father and the manifestation of the fullness of God among us. He is now.
WE DO BELONG
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”
An identity sourced in the world, whether it be professional or religious – one about our supposed specialness and status - is a barrier to an authentic identity in God. It’s not difficult to construct an imagined identity in a faith group that detracts from who we actually are as a person. Lewis warns in one of his books that the pursuit of an identity in any other source than in Christ eventually turns us into a ghost and a phantom of our true selves. As a son of the law, we will never be our true selves in this life. Like a hermit crab we may carry about a shell on our back. This may be our house, but it is not our real self.
We belong to God, despite our distorted beliefs and any whacky expositions of scripture. But what we believe is important in that it effects the quality of life lived in Jesus’ name. We can have droplets of union with God or swim in the river of life that is God. We can live in an ocean of fullness or a thimble of scarcity. We can live in Adam or we can live in Jesus. Other gospels are not productive of the real self because they not about the real Christ and the genuine living way and always some variation on the original life.
BELONGING AS A SON OR A DELINQUENT?
All belong. Yet in this belonging we can belong as a fully functioning organ or as a tumour. Paul wrote, ‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.’ Gal 1.6 NIV. Paul was talking about a reversion to the law. We can insist as practitioners of the law that we are engaged in Christ’s Gospel if we choose – either through obstinacy or because of lack of the powers of comprehension.
We might convince ourselves that we are seekers of truth, yet remain captured in our partisan ‘relativism’. We may do this because our pattern of life is a consistent reliance on fictions that deny the relevance of information that exposes our beliefs as errors or lies. ‘The pure in heart see God’. The double-minded see what they want to see.
NON-SECTARIAN AND MISGUIDED
We may boast that we are non-sectarian and that ‘we belong’ to The Body, yet cling to an identity and associated beliefs that maintain us in separation from God.
Richard Rohr observes that. ‘If you’re protecting yourself, if you’re securing your own image and identity, then you’re still holding on (to an extra-Jesus identity). Your ego remains full of itself.’ (1)
Being full of ourselves and our supposed identity, we may observe that we omit ourselves from the fullness of Christ’s life and an authentic body life by choice even as we claim to “belong.” Rohr is not attempting to be unkind. Just alerting us to the possibility that we may have immunised ourselves to the truth and the fullness available to us in the gospel of Jesus and the apostles: Anaesthetised ourselves because we are intent on maintaining our own ideas and our own gospel.
The genuine Gospel is our enfoldedness in God. Any gospel that is a gospel based on law is separatist and limited. Christ’s gospel is Himself from first to last. Christ includes you in God. An incarnational gospel affords bottomless life and infinite possibility in union with God. Our union with God is the nature of God, Perichoresis.
NO BITS AND PIECES
Significantly Jesus offers life without limit as opposed to a limited life. This is the deal. Not bits of life or snippets of life. Or a perspective. But unlimited life that He called SPIRIT AND LIFE. This life ‘without limitation’ comes from our immersion and baptism into the trinity. Mystics call this ‘oneness’ but there is nothing mysterious about it. It’s living in the incarnation instead of re-living in separation.
A friend of mine joined a church because she wanted more of God. Fair enough. But the more of God is already accessible as an infinity in you.
Much Christianity is devoted to overcoming the separation from God that no longer exists because separation was extinguished by the cross, the atonement and the incarnation. Baptised into the trinity we are immersed in personhood and infinite life. We belong in the Holy Family.
Thus, Trinitarian life and Body life are of the same relationship and the same order: Our incorporation and interweaving into Christ and His Family is not by means of the law. If the latter is our talisman then Christ died for nothing as Paul states in Galatians 2.21..
With Christ as our life we are part of the body in spirit and in truth. We are of Him when we are alive from His Person and not grasping at it though the law and religious conformities. We are part of God as sons. Not disinherited sons who are slaves and workers – working at getting union with God. The ‘at-one-ment’ unites you to the being of God. You and Father have been made one. No incomplete, waiting to be finished off atonement here.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “When I first opened his De Incarnation [by Athanasius] I soon discovered by a very simple test that I was reading a masterpiece.” The core of the New Creation is the incarnation. Without it we are left where Satan wants us to be. Struggling in our flesh and in separation from God to ‘be as gods’. In Christ you are woven into the trinity and the trinity is woven into you. No need to rely on definitions and positions when we are one with God in spirit and in truth. The fundamentalist has words. The mystic has a life in God.
‘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.
Know that our justification and sanctification is the person of Christ in us and for us. This real grace.
You might be amazed that there are folks who enthusiastically advocate openness and the liberal ideal while consistently rejecting even the faintest idea that threatens the beliefs to which they are addicted and which constrict their lives. “What first comes to your heart and soul must be a yes and not a no, trust instead of resistance. And when you can lead with your yeses, and allow yourself to see God in all moments, you’ll recognize that such energy is never wasted but always generates life and light.” (2)
(1)Rohr, Richard. The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your transformation (Kindle Locations 1604-1605). SPCK. Kindle Edition. (2) Rohr, Richard. Ibid. (Kindle Locations 1656-1659). SPCK. Kindle Edition.