I’ll call her Maud. Recently I read about her in a piece in The Age newspaper. She stated she was done with men. No longer would she look to a man to make herself complete. Fair enough. All of us would do better accumulating completeness in ourselves rather than becoming dependent on something or someone else. We would do better as individuals and as spouses if we had already made a life from taking responsibility for ourselves to be ourselves. But it is not good for us to be alone because we cannot ‘be ourselves,’ live in our real identity and nurture others in theirs in ‘solitary confinement.’
NO MORE HUMBUG
Many people - not all - have an inbuilt desire to be who they are, un-suffocated by humbug, appreciated for their difference and loved for their uniqueness. We do not always accord this to others and can go our entire lives without receiving much of it ourselves. Nevertheless we are called to love and be loved in this way - which is the prime characteristic of the church Jesus builds, if he gets a chance to build it. God is love. Jesus is the expression of that love and we are filled with genuine love by the Spirit who is in us and with us.
The church is only the expression of Christ when Jesus is expressed in most of us.
Christ’s genius is to liberate us from ourselves to be ourselves. Hidden in Christ we are made whole and revealed in our true glory as lovers of ourselves in a good way, as lovers of others and as builders of the new creation. The glory of Christ, the glory of who He designed us to be, grows and glows in us as we continue in His person.
‘For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is yourlife, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory’ Col 3.3,4 NIV.
Some continually adapt to others. Other live to appease others, be accepted by significant others and live through others, to the extent that they are a ghost of themselves. Some live from a crippled being because the sect they live from is close to being a cult. Other live as a pale shadow of themselves because none of us were meant to live from institutions or anything that is not Christ. We are born again (if have been born again at all) to create culture that are the expression of Christ as us.
Some through their diligent and sometimes conspicuous labour, work to be accorded value. They are looking for love. Often they do not receive the appreciation they are looking for. They can be drawn into a spiral of increasing workaholism as they seek to vindicate their existence and pump up their self-worth through their over the top labours. Our challenge is to live in the reality that is Christ and take up our position in Father’s heart that has been won for us in Jesus. This marinates us in His love and fortifies us to love others and find relief from our own self-centeredness.
Jesus came to set us free from these kinds of addictions by offering us all we need in Himself. Our sins are not held against us. Our faulty attempts to make ourselves whole do not damn us. We are able to take stock in His peace, grow in His grace and be liberated from dysfunctional behaviors as His life grows in us. Hidden in Christ, individuals and communities are able to be themselves and do all that Father intends for them to do.
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free’ Luke 4.18 NIV.
We cannot be whole as an island nor can we be whole as a sacrifice to the common good. Certainly we cannot be whole independently of God. Father is better than the best of the fathering that can be experienced and He is totally unlike the worst that is on offer. Our position since the cross is that we belong. We always did ‘belong’ but our estrangement in Adam has been undone in Jesus. We do not have to earn intimacy with God, strain to be accepted or get ourselves in a fit state to belong. We belong. We belong as Jesus belongs. This is the vicarious humanity of Christ. In Adam we were dead and alienated sons. In Jesus we are alive - alive because He is our life and alive because in Him we are in our Father and absorbed into the Family that is God.
‘Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them’ John 14.23 NIV.
But back to Maud. Maud says she has given up looking for Mr Right because none of those she met valued her for herself. They had other agendas with the common theme of meeting their own needs by using her. In Father we are more than valued for ourselves. We are delighted in. This is the Reality at the core of the universe, witnessed at the cross and demonstrated in the life of Jesus. Jesus loves us and is the love of our Father made visible. Here is a love that releases us from our self-obsession and frees us to be love to others. Over the last few days a friend and I hung-out with other friends who had lost their daughter in death. As we hung with them prior to the funeral and at the grave side, I could feel the love and was conscious that the love of God was in and with us all. In a real way we are Christ come in the flesh of ourselves and for each other.
A life with no spirituality can be misery, since we are spiritual beings and seek that which gives us life. Our dilemma is that we can seek life in things that are not spiritual and end up more barren than before. Law and a law culture are profoundly un-spiritual. Law produces weakened spirit and crippled religionists. A life in crooked religion is damaging because because it cripples us in the name of God. But there is always hope and resurrection in Jesus.
Because of Jesus we can love ourselves and walk unburdened by guilt and shame. We can begin each new day with innocence and joy. Francois Du Toit has written the most radical expression of encouragement I have ever heard. He says ‘To see Jesus is to see yourself.’ From another author I received similar. Jesus said to this man, ‘Son, when I look at you I see myself.’
To live from Jesus is to live from life consciousness. It’s to be alive because we are living from life personified. To live from an obsession with sin and overcoming it is to live from the law. In the new covenant Christ is our life. He is far more than a solution to sin. He is life without limit. Receive this as truth and it will change your life. Jesus lives vicariously for every person. Our life in God is as simple as it is profound. He lives in us yet fills the universe with His presence. His heart is our home. We belong. We are loved deeply. Marinated in His person we are empowered to love as He loves. With Jesus as our life we are one with God, ourselves and the universe. We belong and have about us the aroma of His love.
‘And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself’ Eph 4.10 NLT.