If we are insensitive enough – we might have a high and entirely unwarranted opinion of ourselves – Relatives who must holiday with us will groan within themselves as they endure our opinionated utterances. Or not. There are folks who are alive in their spirit and folks who are dead men talking. Spirit and life comes from union with Christ and this union comes from a humble passion for life.
GRACE AND TRUTH
A humble and teachable attitude towards the Lord, reaps huge benefits in our relationship with Him and with others. Our being is not compartmentalised. Humility and teachableness in regard to God will cause us to like ourselves in a good way, know God as God is and advance from the treadmill of pedestrian religion into a communion with God that is neither pious, sanctimonious or trite. We will become persons of grace and truth because Christ has become our life.
INSULATED FROM LIFE
Pride insulates us from spiritual discernment. If we don’t listen to others we cannot expect to be astute hearers of God.
SO FAR AND NOT AT ALL NEAR
We can live a life of religion yet be quite apart from Christ. Apart because genuine spirituality is neither a routine or a system of beliefs. It is union with God that is real and real because you have followed where He has led and advanced beyond externalities to share in God’s spirit and life.
Karl Barth offers these remarks on the meaning of ‘Apart from Christ.’ “What does 'apart from and without Christ' mean? The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. These are the characteristic features of our relation to God, as it takes shape on this side resurrection. Our relation to God is ungodly.
We suppose that we know what we are saying when we say 'God'. We assign to Him the highest place in our world: and in so doing we place Him fundamentally on one line with ourselves and with things. We assume that He needs something: and so we assume that we are able to arrange our relation to Him as we arrange our other relationships.
We press ourselves into proximity with Him: and so, all unthinking, we make Him nigh unto ourselves. We allow ourselves an ordinary communication with Him, we permit ourselves to reckon with Him as though this were not extraordinary behaviour on our part. We dare to deck ourselves out as His companions, patrons, advisers, and commissioners. We confound time with eternity. This is the ungodliness of our relation to God.” (1) Contractual religion is the basis of entitlement and separation from God. A humble heart opens us to union with God and the quality of grace and truth.
As such we can be schooled in religion yet be distant from God.
RELIGION IS NOT GOD OR GODLINESS
This is not a discouragement to Godliness. But it is a call to repent of a religious view of God and Godliness. Sheltering in religion we may be unaware that what has been described here is not Godly. Yet we have spent much of our life attempting to perfect such motions. And we may even come to believe our self-deceit that we are being godly in doing them. Or not. If we are fortunate we will have come to see that we can’t even do this religious stuff well. If in desperation we cry out and say, ‘God, I can’t do this anymore!’ Jesus will say, ‘Good. At last I can do something with you.’ If you follow from this point this will be the First Day of your Re-birth.
THE DESULTORY CONTRACT
Many of us live out a kind of contract until we learn better. We think that if we do this then God can be expected to do that ( a kind of manipulation) as Barth intimates above. ‘Obey and live’ is classic old covenant. But we are now in the new covenant. We are in God because of Christ. He is in us as we are in Him. We have been positioned and woven into God. As Paul indicated in Galatians 2.20, we have been made one with Christ in order that we will reveal Christ. Fundamentally life in the Spirit is not about the gifts. It’s about Christ’s life as ours. It’s incarnation.