THE SUBSTANCE OF SPIRIT AND LIFE
We are at our best when we live from our inner selves – if our inner selves are any good. Jesus observed that who and what we are comes out of our heart. We can have a good and wholesome heart, if that is where we live from and have taken care to affix our hearts to the heart of God. This can be easier than it seems because Father’s heart has always sought ours.
LIFE WITHOUT LIFE
The need to do this is not always obvious - at least not until we have come to see that our life in externalities is empty – like the woman who led a hugely busy life. But she noticed that when she got home, which is to say, when she took time to see and listen to her heart, she found that ‘there was no one home.’ This is like the miser who has a healthy bank account but is nevertheless, poor and a peasant at heart.
The ignorant often live their ignorance with much confidence. Should we attempt to live from the law, we will be living from ‘externalities.’ By living from religion we will live from more subtly disguised externalities, but externalities nevertheless. The result will be a ‘headpiece filled with straw.’ But not only are we hollow when we live from behaviours and things. We lack the substance of the Kingdom that Jesus called spirit and life.
The beauty of humility and a listening attitude is that we can hear wise people and her out heart. The bigot hears himself and gets smaller and smaller. The poor in spirit grow in wisdom and authority with God and people.
Jesus modelled living in God. He was one with His Father. His being was interwoven with His Father. But Jesus is not just a model of how to live as sons. He and Father are in us in the same way that Jesus was interwoven with His Father. As a river of spirit and life Jesus was simply being Himself; being life itself as part of the trinity. His success did not attach to Him because He was busy about His Father’s work. ‘Busy-busy’ is often lifeless in the kingdom sense. Jesus was a life-giver because He was His Father’s son. This union is now our union.
‘When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you’ John 14.20 NIV.
John 14.2o is one of the most important scriptures in the Bible. It testifies that the separation of Adam and his race is undone; that we are not justified or accepted by what we do, but that we are who we are because the trinity is one with us and we are one with the trinity. We have been enfolded in God to become our real selves.
DIVINE REST FOR RESTLESSNESS
Religiously busy people are often driven and irritating. They promote tasks that come from their restless, driven souls. Their Ishmaels that did not come from God. They live for self-validation. Works of charity are as much about their own need as the need of the recipient. They have no rest because they do not live from a position where their being is at rest. They are not at home. Their heads are not in that space where they really are in spirit – one with our Father.
Richard Rohr writes of the religious activist, “We are a circumference people, with little access to the center. We live on the boundaries of our own lives “in the widening gyre,” confusing edges with essence, too quickly claiming the superficial as substance. As Yeats predicted, things have fallen apart and the center does not seem to be holding. If the circumferences of our lives were evil, it would be easier to moralize about them. But boundaries and edges are not bad as much as they are passing, accidental, sometimes illusory, and too often in need of defence or “decoration.” (1) Indeed. Self-effort is not immoral. It’s just separate from God.
Many Christians devote their lives to overcoming separation from God when they are already unseparated and one with God by achievement of the Christ. Your position is that God in Christ has positioned you in oneness with Himself. Live from this position and you will be life-giver.
Imagined separation gives rise to non-life giving mission and efforts of the flesh that mean nothing for the Kingdom, other than self-justifying activity for Christian workaholics. Sadly these are the kinds of people who can get into office who see their task as corralling people into tasks that God never ordained and to which most are unsuited.
No wonder God says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ For in stillness we can see that we are not god and that we can never be as gods knowing good and evil simply by doing. We are at peace and fruitful life-givers when we are in Him, living from a sense of belonging and grounded in the truth that we belong and are included in the family of God. When Christ is our life, we are in Father and in Father we find ourselves doing what we are meant to be doing as daughters and sons.
(1) Rohr, Richard. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (pp. 13-14). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.