There is a message in the person of Jesus that is pertinent to all who would look for life in either conservativism of what has come to be called progressive values. ‘Progressive’ means to many all that is not old, customary or traditional. It means going with the flow of what is deemed to be common wisdom and educated enlightenment. It is not linked to Christian morality but it is fundamentally secular humanist. Christian morality also claims to be for the elevation of humanity. But this transformation arises from the witness and life of Jesus - and this not from a life copied but a life that is His spirit alive in us.
Jesus did not come to undo sexual norms and promote perversion in the name of love or grace. It will most certainly be found in the course of time that homosexuality and marriage equality will not have elevated family and communal life to a higher state. But this is not immediately obvious when that which is human and elevated is defined entirely by custom, tradition or the latest rendition of what passes as being ‘educated.’
Where there is no vision other than a reference to ourselves, the people perish.
God is not gender specific. He should not be seen as ‘male’ which might bring no joy to the those of fundamentalist taint, who want to insist that the male is the head of the house. To follow the model of the trinity would be to ensure that husband and wife are the head of the house. Marriage is to family what trinity is to the governance of heaven.
There is no hierarchy in the trinity. Father is not above the others. God is three in one and lives in perfect unity and diversity. The trinity is a model of marriage and the family where people of different gender, age and personality live together in harmony and joy. The members of the trinity are real persons. They are not identical. Each is different and each lives to enhance the other. Marriage between a man and a woman is an image of the trinity. It takes a mother and a father to model the fullness of God, the Fatherhood of God and the Motherhood of God. The diversity in unity of God in three persons is the source of all unity and communion among people. Possessing a mum and a dad is fundamental to experiencing the reality of our Father and to becoming a son in spirit and in truth. The reality of the spirit of Sonship is dependent on the manifestation of the trinity in our family life.
But this is not some hyper-spiritual feat. It is simply us being who we are in Christ. The ‘in Christ’ is the important part as opposed to being in religion or in Christianity. Life, wholeness, love and identity flow from a personal God who is alive in us.
Nevertheless God has never forced His norms on anyone and Jesus has shown the way to relate to those who reject Him and oppose themselves to His new and living way. There is nothing more ugly than morality without grace and ethics without forgiveness, all of which is another name for judgment. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, who sets the example of how we must relate to sin rather than pretending it is not degrading and perverse. Sin begins with the degradation of humanity and ends in death.
Over thirty years ago I discerned the real nature of conservativism as an ideology when reading about the American Civil War. Conservatives announced that slavery was good for slaves. Good for slave owners and therefore good for slaves, it was argued and rationalized. Like coal is good for society and good for the land and the climate. Not. Conservativism is tied to self-interest, fear, mental inertia and clinging desperately to what we know and what we have. It’s a kind of hoarding where one lives in the obsessive compulsion of clinging to what one owns. Here it is easier to make the absurd assumption that climate change is the idea of communists, terrorists or some world government conspiracy than face reality. We already have a world conspiracy in capitalism, authoritarianism and other forms of political power. It’s called Babylon and Egypt.
The obtuse attitudes of this mindset surfacing in climate change denial are not amenable to evidence. Not even when one’s house is swept away and one is waiting to be rescued by a helicopter on one’s roof. Yet life is not found in clinging to the old or embracing the new. But it is found in truth and truth is a person - the person of Jesus Christ.
‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind’ John 1.4 NIV.
Jesus was neither conservative or progressive. He just was. But He was the epitome of life and truth. Jesus’ criteria for what should be done or left undone was not ‘is this liberal or conservative?’ His attitude was, ‘Does this multiply life?’ Jesus came to give life, not in drips and drops but life without limit. This life is found in His person which is the conduit of the life of the Spirit and our Father. Jesus is the perfect revelation of our Father and He is all that you can become.
Contrary to some theological myths, myths that are not unlike aspects of Islam, God does not continually go about angry. He is not absorbed in ‘wrath.’ He is not vindictive or judgmental and is not mean with His salvation. Neither does He promote violence that good may come. ‘The wrath of God,’ I have learned from good authority, is not God being mad and putting earthquakes on people. The wrath of God is the natural effect in society and among the nations of living without God in general and denying the Kingship of Christ in particular. The wrath of God is the effect of godlessness in people and the world and the church.
You would think in many churches that the rite of the Lord’s Table is about the cross. Only initially. It its real purpose is to be a small play, a living reminder of the main fact of the new testament age: The incarnation. Jesus said ‘Those who eat me will live because of me.’ This is not just about eternal life. It is about all of life. Your inheritance is to be the manifestation of Jesus. The only way that Jesus can be ingested and taken into our being is by the Spirit. The accomplishment of this is as simple as saying ‘Jesus, come and be my life.’ Such a statement to our Lord will change your life forever and make you the expression of His person and deliver you from religion.
‘This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God’ 1 John 4.2 NIV.
Many of us were warned off the catholic doctrine of transubstantiation - where the bread and the wine actually become the presence of Christ. This is not as off the mark as some think. It is a sign of a greater reality - the reality that God in Christ has already incarnated His fullness in you and you are the habitation of the trinity.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit really do live in you. And God has placed you in them. We are truly in a win/win situation.
‘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.
Participation in the sacrament does not bring the indwelling presence. It is a reminder and celebration of what already is. Jesus instruction to participate in this rite is meant to keep before us the truth that all shadows have passed. The reality is that Christ lives in us and this is the hope and reality of the glory of the sons and daughters of God every day. The fact is that each Believer whose life is Christ is the manifestation of Jesus Christ. We do ourselves a great service when we begin to live out of Christ instead of attempting to live out a Christian religion.
‘To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ Col 1.27 NIV.
The stagnation that we see in the church is the result of living in Christianity instead of living Christ our life. Jesus declaration of Himself as The Way, John’s description of Jesus as spirit and life, Paul’s exultation that Christ is our life are the holistic expression of the multiplication of Jesus in you and the creation.
The incarnation is the summit of grace - where grace is Jesus and His life is yours. Always. Grace is the vicarious humanity of Jesus for all. Incarnation is the core of the gospel and the agency of new creation life: Christ come in our flesh. John’s remarks on this should not be taken as a method of exposing demons. More fully this scripture exposes what God achieved in Jesus and how the new creation is achieved. Jesus, referring not only to salvation, assured all that by eating His flesh and drinking His blood we are alive in Him. Only He put it more bluntly. He said that if we do not ingest Him in the Spirit we have no life at all. Spiritual gifts are never independent of this reality. They grow out of it and are the consequence of the fact that in Jesus we and our Father are one; that we live as sons and because of His Spirit in us we are doing what our Father is doing.
Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me’ John 6.55-57 NIV.