BE A PERSON
Back in the 1980s I experienced a painful divorce. Thankfully I can look back on this and thank Jesus for what He has done with me since that time. I can even thank Him for the experience, which by the way, He did not cause. I can thank Him because He entered into my life, my pain and my resurrection as a husband and Father to teach me about Himself and about me. It is impossible to know oneself unless we know God and enter into the experience of being known by God. We will not know God unless we know Jesus Christ.
‘The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us’ 1 John 1.2 NIV.
It was agonizing in some respects because I helped to make it so. My fundamentalist expectations had been shattered and I was angry because my world had been ruined. The framework of assumptions I had lived by, the scaffolding of belief did not make me a whole person, let alone a happy marriage, save my marriage or give me peace in the aftermath of collapse. I came to realize that the religion I had been part of was more about itself than a life lived in Jesus Christ. It was through this disruption that I came to see that my life was not about going in to bat for a set of beliefs, an ideology or an abstraction called the ‘truth.’ Life was about Jesus Christ.
The fact is, all of life is about Him. It’s just that few in the world and many in the church have not realized it yet. So we go about adding Him as a footnote to the activity that is ‘our life’ when the Living Way is for Him to be our life with our activities the fruit of His Vine.
My solicitor, who helped steer me through the aftermath of our break-up, found my adherence to what I thought were verities self-defeating and frustrating. I could see that she thought, ‘Why don’t you just stop being a fundamentalist and be a person!’
Indeed. Why not? The law can produce parodies but not real people.
The gospel of the Kingdom is not a religion but a person. God revealed Himself as the Son of Man. Incarnated as Jesus of Nazareth the Son of God revealed Himself as a human being. Now in heaven at the right hand of authority with our Father, He has not changed. A human being is the Son of God and we are in Him in God’s presence and a member of the family of heaven. But there’s more. Jesus Christ, our Father and the Spirit are in us. Because we believe in Jesus and take Him at His word they make their home in us. This truth, this incarnation of God in you and is the key dynamic of the new testament and of your life. You are a person because God is a person and He lives in you.
Grace is not a clever way of coping with the law. Grace is Jesus. Grace is His life as our life; His life incarnated in our being so that we live in His Spirit and life.
I know people who think that by giving a talk based on truth and beneficial behaviors and backed up by scripture they have spoken for God. But their efforts lack spirit and life, despite the truth of what they say. Truth only has spirit and life when it is the expression of our life in God. Couched in the knowledge of good and evil such ‘truth’ is sterile and never the ‘truth’ of the new and living way because it is devoid of the presence, the spirit and the life of God.
We were not created to live from rules. We were made to live in God and from God. The expression of our Godliness is called ‘son.’ There is no reason why any of us need be a figment of religion, wearing fig-leaves of belief that we hope might clothe the nakedness of our soul or disguise our suspected worthlessness as a person. We need not live from a framework, from fundamentals, from rules or denominational strictures. We have better than that. We have Christ as our life. We have the Son of Man who manifests His life into our being. This is the difference between being a robot running to a program and being a person and a son of God.
‘I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’ Gal 2.21 NIV.