We venture into the world of adulthood in adolescence. Here we are invited to leave childhood behind and grow in the excitement of becoming fully ourselves in the unique identity that we have inherited as ourselves. Eventually we will have to jettison that first half of life in order to become an adult in a genuine sense in the second half. We must leave behind accumulated certainties in exchange for entering a world of greater ambiguity and paradox – yet of greater life. As John Powell might say, we have the opportunity to develop in integrity and wholeness. This is if we are prepared to know and live life as an adventure of ‘becoming’ rather than as a stagnant and solidified entity captured in locked and concrete ideas – think fundamentalism. The transition from childhood to adulthood is a parable of the development of the human race. We must leave behind the old covenant if we are to take full advantage of the new.
WHAT IS IT?
The new covenant is not. O I love Jesus so much for what He did that I would not want to displease Him.’ Actually we often do not love Jesus that much and we are careless about displeasing Him. So the new covenant has to be better than this. Neither is the new covenant a way that God injects laws, values and principles into our hearts. It’s not a more clever form of law. Jesus is not an aid to the letter. He does not advance the letter than kills or the half-life that is found in Adam and Moses.
The new covenant is incarnation from start to finish. The new covenant is Christ in you expressing Himself as you. He never makes you a manifestation of the law or of religion. This would be degrading because it would make you less than you are – a person and a son/daughter. Jesus fills you to make you the expression of Himself. As a son of God you are set for infinite possibility because you have entered infinite life. You being is joined to God.
The adventure of a life in God is that it a continual adventure – as the wonder of His nature continues to unfold and our privileges and identity in Him continue to be revealed. We can kid ourselves. We can speak about going from glory to glory. But the truth is that we have made a few steps forward in regard to Holy Spirit. But we have not expanded our knowledge. We have contained ourselves in the first part of life and have not undone any chains of false teaching for the last twenty years. So we content ourselves in dormancy, or if not content try to break out of our coma by reviewing truths that we absorbed twenty years ago. Other than that we circle the mulberry bush like sleep-walkers in a trance.
Not a few pioneers and reformers have made adjustments to the theology they teach – tightened a nut here and tied a the tarp down more securely there. But they have remained in limitation. They have fenced themselves off in the paddock of the law and ‘received beliefs’. They have remained smaller than they are because they have never examined the ground of their being and the planks of their spiritual formation. Insulated from the truth they contain themselves in their self-made ‘truth’ and come to the end of their lives without knowing that their entire life has been spent in a delusion.
“The last experience of God is frequently the greatest obstacle to the next experience of God. We make an absolute out of it and use it to strengthen our ego, to self-aggrandize and self-congratulate. Then, of course, nothing more happens. That’s why Jesus repeats the admonition to conversion. We need to be converted again and again. We aren’t born again. We are born again and again and again. Accepting and acting upon that principle takes a lot of letting go. If we aren’t willing to move out of our comfort zone, it won’t happen. All great spirituality is about letting go.” (1)
YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN
Letting go can sometime be about letting go of dual loyalties – like loyalty to Jesus and loyalty to our tradition or denomination. In the old testament we find, ‘My son, give me your heart.’ In the new testament we find ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’ They will know God in Christ, know the real Christ, know His gospel and discern His Kingdom. James warns against having two masters and Paul urges us to have but one husband. Why? The pure in heart see God. Those of divided heart only think they do. They are a liability to themselves and an embarrassment to those who can see. Either we minister life or we minister death.
‘He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’ 2 Cor 3.6 NIV.
If our loyalty to Jesus is an undivided loyalty we can expect sharp discernment, excellent vision and an overflowing experience of spirit and life. We will also be participants in continual advance as members of that company who have forsaken every treasure, every lesser identity and every pre-conceived notion. We will experience the adventure of ever-growing as daughters and sons as a life-giving spirit who releases spirit and life. Out of us will come both living water and things that will last for eternity. Christ has come in our flesh.
We live in the Spirit. Yet from the womb of this Body of Christ comes the material reality of the new creation and the realised advance of the Kingdom of God. As the pure in heart we will see God, know God and be an apostolic people who separate flesh from spirit and the kingdom of this world from the Kingdom of our Lord. This is the inheritance of those who are the sons of God in spirit and in truth.
(1) Rohr, Richard. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (pp. 52-53). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition..