I could go on and on about our union with Jesus. I could pontificate forever about our oneness with the Holy Spirit. I really could dazzle you with more and more diatribe about our total and absolute inclusion in God. And when I was done with that I could remind you that YOU ARE ABBA’s CHILD. So one more post about the lie of separation seems only fair.
For the Bible scholars out there, they are familiar with the progression of thought in 2 Corinthians 4 and 5. For the rest of us how about a little background? OK, here you go. It is interesting and encouraging, I promise.
Paul starts out discussing our physical bodies and our experience and our circumstance. He calls us “jars of clay.” I think that is pretty profound considering our physical origins “from the dust of the Earth.” Paul is trying to tell us that no matter what is going on around us and whatever is happening TO us, we are more than just “meat-sacks.” Actually we are way way more that just “tents.” He is telling us what this series of posts have been trying to reveal…we are way more than just these physical bodies. We are in Him and He is in us and we are in union with the divine. No matter what “I” am going through, it isn’t just me. There never was a “just me.” This is what Jesus was trying to show us. His divine relationship is the example of our divine relationship. He is a Son of God and we are children of God. It isn’t an exclusive, conditional potential. It is real and truth and inclusive. I know I’ve mentioned this before but remember what Paul told the “Pagans Greeks” on Mars Hill? Here you go in a fun translation (they weren’t “Christians”):
Acts 17:24-29 “The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it? (The Message)
Check out the last few posts starting with this one for the details and background of the assertion that we are in “oneness” with Him. Paul knew this truth. He was certain. His “saving revelation” was Christ IN him. That is so powerful if we will just take a leap of faith and believe.
Paul, in the second Corinthian letter, is trying to encourage us and give us the “proof,” the “absolute encouragement” so we can step out in these “jars of clay” and “live life” as a child of God in union with the creator. He gets to the middle of chapter five in this letter and has some astounding remarks:
2 Cor 5:13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (ESV)
Paul saw how Jesus was a mirror for us. He saw how Jesus was the “perfect human” who knew His relationship with His father. He saw that same relationship in all of us. He saw the obvious connection between all of it. He says in another letter that Jesus is in all and holds all together. Even here, in this passage, Paul is telling us this amazing truth. If Jesus died as one of us, in this union with God and man, He was in union with mankind! If Jesus died for us then we all died with Him. Why is that so important? It changes everything in the way we think. Now we can see our origins in the divine. This is our born from above experience. Even Peter said we were born from above in the resurrection.
OK, it really isn’t that mystical if you just think about it. Mankind used to think their origins were in Adam, their parents, their traditions, their tribes, their ancestors. Now Paul is showing us that when Jesus died we all died so we all had to be born again from above. Now we can clearly see that our origins were always in the divine. We were in Jesus (and He was in us) before we were in Adam. Our roots and ancestry are from Jesus not Adam. Paul goes on to say this:
2 Cor 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)
Dwell on this for a moment. Jesus came to reveal and prove and demonstrate that we were always in God. We were always God’s children. We were of divine origins. We were created in His image as His kids. When we “see” our origins in Jesus, we “see” ourselves in a very new and different way. This is our “new creation.” We see ourselves as something that wasn’t possible before. We are more than just “flesh” or “jars of clay.” Interesting that he used to think of Jesus that way (only flesh).
It is hard for us. We still eat forbidden fruit and insist that “there must be balance” and “it can’t be that good” and “your letting people off the hook” and more of that kind of thinking. We are certain that there must be a “punishment for sin” and we need to “carry our sheaves to the hill again” and “we have to have a dead body to make this right.” Paul is desperately calling out to us to “repent” or “change our thinking” to see that God has never been that retributive judge we expect but instead has been the restorative Father that we missed. Jesus shows us over and over who our Father really is. I am so sorry that the Hebrews missed Him for the most part. I am sorry that humankind needed a period of law and rules to keep from killing each other. I am sorry that we couldn’t see this truth apart from the horrific death of GOD at the hands of MAN. It really racks my brain that we would reject and kill God when He is our Father and He was in us all along. How blind is blind? How dark is dark?
Again this brings up “good-bad” legal categories in all of us. That is why Paul says this:
2 Cor 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (ESV)
No matter what “lying voice” rises up inside you, you should never doubt. No matter what “the Satan” is saying in your heart (or from another religious person’s lips…aaarg) you can know that you know. Even more than that, Paul makes is so very clear here:
2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
There are many ways to understand this verse but the one I love the most is this: We rejected God to death and because He is love He forgave us while we did it. If forgiving us, even after He was raised from the dead, we can KNOW that we are loved. We had rejected Him from the beginning in the garden. This act on the cross was not legally necessary or judicially required or even a punitive balancing move. It was LOVE, period. He didn’t have too. It wasn’t an answer to cosmic karma. It was a pure and unconditional act of LOVE. We put the gun to His head and said we hated Him (because of the fruit) and we pulled the trigger and He got up from the grave… still loving us. This is how you can know that you know.
Now with that certainty, we can live from our union with a God we trust. This is our faith. Check out what it says in the Mirror Bible:
2 Cor 3:18 The days of window-shopping are over! In him every face is unveiled. In gazing with wonder at the loveliness of God displayed in human form, we suddenly realize that we are looking into a mirror, where every feature of his image articulated in Christ is reflected within us! The Spirit of the Lord engineers this radical transformation; we are led from an inferior mind-set to the revealed endorsement of our authentic identity. (Mirror Bible)
We look at Jesus and we see ourselves. We look at Jesus and see the human-God relationship that we have always had as His kids. We aren’t trying to copy what Jesus “did” but participate in His personhood as He is. We are seeing our potential and true reality as a child of God. We are seeing what it looks like in nature to be truly human. We are realizing, through example, what a divinely originated child of God is capable of. We can Love with the unconditional Love that dwells in us. We can move in the “stuff soup” of this world, be rejected by others, give completely of ourselves (even to death) and know our Father!!! We can know Him and walk with Him and be a part of Him and know His presence in US. Wow!
Why do I persist in this indwelling, union, oneness, no separation, unity, inclusion, acceptance, unearthly assurance, adoption, child of God discussion? It is the Good News. It is the gospel of Jesus. It is the truth of Immanuel. And….best of all….it means something so important…
You are significant and powerful and authoritative and capable and empowered and loved and adored and the Kingdom of God and His body and His representative. You are Jesus here and now. Yes you. I don’t care if your religion is Hindi or Islam. I don’t care if you are a pastor or a crack addict. I don’t care if you are homosexual or homeless or filthy rich. You are God’s kids, all of you.
No matter what you hurts or hang-ups or pains or brokenness or arrogance or feelings of worthlessness or whatever “IT” is…look at Jesus. That is you. That relationship with your Abba is what you already have. Possess it! Declare it! Believe it! Let Him love you like His favorite child because that is who you are.