Leading a respectable life is not godliness. It’s not so hard to make a half decent effort at middle class conformity. What counts is our heart and inner being. Are we well regarded by man or are we highly esteemed by God. God loves us all but is particularly drawn to those who honour His Son. Not with words but with their hearts.
Who we are is who we are in our hearts. We have far greater potential than we realize. We are also capable of far greater perfidy than we would like to admit. Sometimes events open a door to the reality that is us and we surprise ourselves with our own nobility and grace. Similarly events can shock us with a revelation of our personal carnality or depravity. Who we are and who we become depends on our Father. Are we a lie because we are the progeny of the Father of lies? Or are we living in spirit and in truth because we are being drawn into the fullness of a sons of God?
‘Out of the heart comes no good thing.’ Yet there are some people, who belong to no religion, whose lives are fragrant with grace . They are not ideologues of any kind or Bible Bashers of any fierceness. But without artifice they live out grace and kindness. What about them, you ask. I say Jesus is a Spirit. I say there are people whose hearts have responded to the Spirit of Christ in them even though their mind does not know Him.
On the whole generic goodness is not godliness, religion is not spirituality and spirituality is not of itself a product of God. There are spiritualties based on things that are not God - like nature and the earth. There are spiritualties that oppose God by substituting for Christ things that are not Christ - like religion. This is the anti-christ. Then there is the spirit and truth of Christ our life. This is the One Spirit, the Spirit of God who unites our spirit with the God’s Spirit in the Spirit of Sonship. All except the latter are more religious than spiritual. Their effect is to dull the human spirit and desensitize the human heart against the potential of our fullness and infinite life in Jesus Christ.
Human decency and respectability is not enough. It is an externality that can be managed and conjured up with a little self-discipline, care and cunning like managing one’s image. However it is innately hypocritical since there is always a downside to every good side we manage to project. This is because of ourselves we are encased in the spirit and culture of the knowledge of good and evil. We do not have to be malicious or malevolent to be caught in this web. We can be quite ‘decent.’ But it is what we are when our life is not Christ.
‘Salvation [from this human condition] is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved [from ourselves and the dichotomy that is us] Acts 4.12 NIV.
There is a way to be human and more than decent. It is possible to love people and live in the fullness of God - when Christ is our life. Being human does not arise from our following the tenets of humanism, values and principles, the law or the harmonious juggling of the mental, the physical and spiritual parts of our being. It happens when we are a son; when we as sons of God live in the Son of God because we have embraced Him as our life. Genuine goodness and character does not come from generalized Christianity. It comes from Jesus who we have embraced personally.
The flesh produces nothing for the Kingdom of God. It is a great mistake to bestow spiritual leadership on people who are decent and respectable but not possessors of Christ as their life. There is a difference between those who live from a personal Jesus and those who live from a religious tradition and its norms. It’s the difference between death and life.
In Christ we receive the humanity of Jesus clothed in God. In Christ the nature of God is living in us. Christ Himself is Grace. Because grace is our life we are released from hectic striving and an anxious efforts to conform. We are set free from the grind of ‘have I done enough’ because Jesus Himself is more than enough. In Christ we are inhabited by the kindest being in the universe: Our Father in heaven who is living by the Spirit in us.
Embraced in the heart of God our hearts become conformed to His heart. In the God who is love we become love and are made holy because He is holy. Graced by Grace Himself we become gracious and are enabled to offer grace and belonging to others. We become the community of God. More importantly we become ourselves, graced to morph into our true selves - the sons and daughters of God who are like Him in spirit and in truth.