Monday, August 6, 2012

Reality Check

It can be frustrating sometimes to help people understand the new reality of being a Christian. It's not like we just joined the local Boy Scouts or Girl Guides and now have a pledge to live up to and a motto to follow. It's not like attending a concert  where we enjoy the moment, hold on to the memories but the experience fades. Being a Christian is not like anything anyone can experience in any other way. It is a transformation, something we are changed into, a new creation, nothing that can be housed in our old way of thinking.

So many people think that being a Christian is a birth right; their parents were Christians so they are Christians. Others believe it is just a matter of joining a church and practising some ceremonies. Some don't have a clue what it is but they claim to be one, spouting off opinions about moralities they can't even begin to fathom. But here is the reality of being a Christian:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)

Now, without getting into the heavy duty theology of it, let me put it very simply: When you became a Christian you became one with God. You were changed so that God took up residence in you and you took up residence in God. The entire Christian life is about coming to grips with this reality, where we learn to live in this oneness. It makes for a good study. You should especially study the gospel of John the teaching on the Vine and what Jesus prayed before being arrested. But you have to go beyond the study and live the experience, daily. I want to explain the consequences of this new reality.

Unlike worshipping a person or an idol, a Christian life is a "working out" of this oneness with God. We want to live in a way that honours this relationship, where we do not offend God in us by using our body for sin or filling our mind and heart with things that pollute and distract us from this relationship. It is not a matter that Christians follow a moral code, although we do have a list of things that reveal the character of God so we know what offends him. But our new reality is that this "law" is written on our hearts by the Spirit of God, so that even if we have not known the written law the Spirit makes it known to us. As Christians we are without excuse.

The Christian life is about learning to surrender ourselves to Jesus every day. When we fail; when we ignore the Spirit's direction; when we allow our old nature to lead is in wrong directions, it is a matter of returning to the point of the relationship, asking for and receiving forgiveness, and getting back to it. It is not about trying to follow a list of rules but allowing the purpose of such rules to become part of the fibre of our being.

The Christian life is about growing in our awareness and understanding of God as he lives in us and we in him. It goes beyond great books, great sermons, wonderful teaching videos. It goes beyond self-improvement, self-help, self-discipline. It is coming to grips with the fact that all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form in Jesus and that we in turn have been given fullness in Christ. It is living the reality that Jesus is the head over every power and authority. That means when you speak in that authority every power and authority obeys because that authority lives in you.

This seems to be the new reality that most of the Church is trying to deny. We love our own little sub-culture that we are developing, with our own clothing line, music and video production, with our own lingo. We enjoy our conferences, seminars, Bible Colleges, curriculum development, our morality teaching but we are leaving out the authority and power, the Christ in us. We enjoy acting the part without the responsibility of living the power and authority.

Your new reality should be such that in this new relationship with God in you, nothing else has power over you; not sin, circumstances or disease. You should have more determination and joy that anyone you know. There should be no words of defeat in your vocabulary as you live the reality that all things are possible because of he who dwells in you and gives you strength. There is power in this relationship. There is power to overcome and you are one with the King who holds this power. You do not worship some distant god; Jesus Christ lives in you and you have abundant life through him. This is your reality, the reality of the Christian life.

1 comment:

David Bergsland said...

I written a book on this area of Christian life called "Knowing Jesus As His Bride". I think that knowing Jesus as in a marriage, with that level of intimacy is crucial to the Christian life. It may even be required for salvation (see the parable about the ten virgins). If it is, "The Narrow Gate" is much more narrow than is commonly taught. What do you think?