Once we get past all the religious junk we finally get to step into the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven as God intended all along. I know I use this passage in Ephesians often but it is so good:
Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)
With the veil of religion removed we begin to see the beauty of God’s plan. We are holy and blameless “before” Him. That word (katenṓpion) is way closer than “in proximity.”
katenṓpion (from 2596 /katá, “down, exactly according to,” intensifying 1799 /enṓpion, “in the eye, i.e. in the presence of”) – properly, “down in the eye,” i.e. in someone’s direct, concentrated gaze; “in the very presence of,” especially being “in the very full (decisive) presence of” (S. Zodhiates, Dict).
Here is the same passage in the Mirror Translation:
Eph 1:3 Let’s celebrate God! He lavished every blessing heaven has upon us in Christ! 1:4 He associated us in Christ before the fall of the world! Jesus is God’s mind made up about mankind! He always knew in his love that he would present us again face-to-face before him in blameless innocence. 1:5 He is the architect of our design; his heart dream realized our coming of age in Christ. 1:6 His grace-plan is to be celebrated: he greatly endeared us and highly favored us in Christ. His love for his Son is his love for us. (The Mirror Translation)
We are in Him now. When God looks at Jesus He SEES us in Him. He sees us both and is very pleased with what He has done. Jesus isn’t “covering our yuck,” He is consuming us in His goodness. That is an awesome place. That is the Kingdom of Heaven.
I was struggling with this concept a while ago and I asked God to show me what it looks like. At the time I was still bound by the wrong assertion of “penal substitution” and assumed that God couldn’t look upon my nastiness. Now I see so differently but the image He gave me still applies. Actually it works better since I have seen the truth of what Jesus has done in His inclusion of all mankind.
In this image I was “inside” the body of Jesus. From my perspective He was “transparent” so I could see outside of Him. I could see where He was looking or moving. I could see the people and landscape around me. I was completely contained by His body. I moved where He moved. I was very much “along for the ride.”
Then I could step out of the picture as a third-party and see me inside Him. I was like a balloon character. Have you ever seen someone blow up a rubber glove? Yeah, I was like that. Without air to blow me up I was a pile of lifeless rubber in His feet. But then I saw the Holy Spirit as a source of air to “blow me up.” The more I let Him “inflate me” the bigger I got inside Jesus. As the “air pressure” increased I grew to the point that my skin was against the skin of Jesus from the inside. I could now feel what He was feeling. I could feel His muscles move and the wind on His hair. Now my head moved where His head moved. I could see what He saw. I could almost “feel” His thoughts. I was so close I could feel Him breathe, experience His emotions, know His next step. If I “let the air out” however, I shrunk away from filling Him and was just there limp inside Him.
I don’t know “how it all works” for sure. I don’t understand and am not trying to create a repeatable formula for “walking in Him.” That would be a crazy waste of time. The beauty of this relationship is the relationship itself. I am in Him and He is in me. We are both sitting in the family circle dance of glory with the Father looking and smiling at us both. The Holy Spirit is illuminating the conversation and filling me up so I am very aware of what Jesus is doing, thinking, feeling, experiencing, wanting, willing and so much more.
Of course I am not “all there yet” but I am learning. The first step in this journey is to take a step. Our first step of faith is to believe Jesus. We get to believe that maybe, just maybe Jesus really did do everything He said. Just maybe we are all included in Him and we are all face to face with the Father. Just maybe God the Father is looking at us and seeing us and is so very pleased at our place in Him. Just maybe we are IN the image of Jesus. Just maybe our “Jesus suit” is transparent both ways and God loves it that we are in Him. Just maybe we will get so filled with Him (Holy Spirit) that we will press up inside of Him until our skin is His skin and we can’t find the seam anymore. Maybe just maybe our Jesus suit is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now when you read a passage like this one maybe you see it differently:
Gal 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
That is a beautiful passage. We are no longer in a relationship based on long-distance law-keeping. We are IN HIM. You can’t put any separation in that relationship. We are clothed with Him. He is our Jesus suit.
In a very real way we were all baptized into His death. In a very real way we are all in Him. But in a very real way not everyone knows it. There is still a “baptism” of revelation and understanding and awakening for those who don’t know this Kingdom reality. Check out the Mirror Translation again for this passage:
Gal 3:23 We were confined to the law, kept in custody to its constraining influence until the revelation of faith would come to our rescue! 3:24 The law was acting just like a slave appointed to be the guardian of his master’s children, until they would be of age to go to the proper school of Christ to find in faith their righteousness revealed and endorsed. 3:25 Now that we have arrived at our destination, the prophetic road signs and pointers are of no further use. Faith replaced the Custodian. Now that faith has come the law is no longer relevant. 3:26 What Jesus Christ believes to be true about you is the final confirmation of man’s redeemed sonship. His faith is the only valid reference to your belief! 3 27 Whoever is immersed in Christ is fully clothed with him! He is your brand new wardrobe confirming your sonship! 3:28 Nothing resembles your previous identity as Jew or Gentile, bond or free, male or female, Billabong or Gucci. In Christ each one of you are equally significant. (The Mirror Translation)
So get familiar with your Jesus suit. Take the step of faith and say “I believe, help me in my unbelief.” Get “filled up” with the Holy Spirit in the revelation of your sonship in God. Look across the circle and see your Father looking back with a huge smile on His face. Get accustomed to your surroundings IN HIM and explore the possibilities. Take your Jesus suit for a jog or a run. Feel the effortless speed and exhilarating freedom in Him. Be filled beyond capacity to feel what He feels and see what He sees and experience what He experiences. That is our Jesus suit in action. That is our place in the Kingdom of Heaven.