You have a life to live each day. This life is in the Son. This is a life that you live on earth in the hurly-burly of your daily activities. Yet in Christ you are joined to heaven, not just as a place but as a member of the Heavenly Family. You belong. You are at home in two ways. You are one with Father in heaven and heaven is one with you where you are. They have made their home in you. This is so because God was in Christ making your one with Himself. Father was not ‘using’ Christ. He was with Him and in Him as was Holy Spirit.
‘For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation’ 2 Cor 5.19 NLT.
So need to pray that God will ‘be with’ people. He already is. Despite our sins He is with us and in us. At the crucifixion God reached into the heart of darkness, penetrated our foulest act in killing, reached into our depravity in the fullness of Himself rejoining us joining to the fullness of sons. Once sons in name only, now sons and daughters in spirit and in truth.
Don’t ever get screwed up wondering if you have repented enough. Jesus repentance (cross) is our repentance. His union with Father is our union with God. Don’t ever think you have quenched Holy Spirit with your pitiful resolutions of sand, your fitful holiness and frequent relapses into things your hate about yourself. Christ’s life is your life. His position in the Holy Family is your position. The one way that you can quench the Spirit is to say, ‘You are a hard man’ and bury this great salvation to in the ground on account of the fact that you insist on earning your own self-respect and gaining self-worth through some faint, iconic holiness of your own or some pseudo-christ of your own making.
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Rom 8.38,39.
A great pleasure and comfort is intimacy with Jesus. But this is not yours to earn. It is the gift of God that is part of His eternal life. Live out of what He has done for your and where He has placed you within His circle. You will enjoy your life, be relieved of the meanness of religion and you will be transformed. Yet even here your place with Father, the Spirit and the Cloud of Witnesses does not depend on the degree of your victory or lack of it. It depends on Jesus who in every way represents your God-ward and people-ward.
So rather than asking God to ‘be with people’ which He already is, or fretting about ‘keeping close to Jesus,’ which you already are, we can pray for more substantive things that only the Spirit can provide. Like joy, peace, courage, healing and indications of His presence. Here’s a thing. We were travelling to Adelaide years ago when Meredith our daughter was small. She asked me about Jesus and what He had achieved for us. As I explained it Holy Spirit swept into the car and we sensed Jesus’ presence and glory in a palpable way. Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus.
His presence is in us whether manifest or not. This is the incarnation. Yet the anointing of Holy Spirit provides an edge. He can be the difference between us being armed with a sword or a butter knife. He provides greater intimacy with Jesus and Father and opens doors before we get to them. Holy Spirit tutors us in Christ and His new and living way.
‘But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you’ John 14.26 NIV.
The difference between religion and the Kingdom come among us, is the presence of God. This presence is not generic, theological or poetic. Firstly it is the trinity in you. Secondly it is the anointing that flows through your on account of your and Father being one. In the Holy Spirit His presence is real and often manifest. He provides protection from the Enemy and is the victory of Jesus over sin and death manifest as a the real God in your real life. We can pray for doors of opportunity to open, for evil doers to be silenced, for the sick to be healed and for grace to endure those things around us that we cannot change.
Jesus expressed His Father’s life as a true son.
Others are not here to make us happy. This is primarily our task. We are here to make us happy and to draw others into the life of Jesus. A person stuck on the notion that others are here to make them happy will not make a good marriage partner or a friend. Narcissism is deeply embedded in some. Not only does it focus them on self but seduces them into thinking that they are responsible for union with God. Our life does not revolve around us - contrary to the narcissism of western assumptions. It revolves around our Father. Outside of Jesus this can be an affront. It is an offence to the non-believer and to the Believer intent on proving her self-worth. Lost in God and hidden in Christ we are one with I AM. As a result we become who we are. We really do have to lose our lives to find ourselves! The work that will give us the most joy is the work that flows from who we really are. This is the work we were designed to do.
‘I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do’ John 17.4 NIV.
In religion, living in Father’s orbit could be a grind. As a son of God in spirit and in truth it is a joy as we go about to do all that Father has planned for us to do. This is not complex or difficult. As a son the plan is you! You are the plan where you are. As a son, you are the manifest presence of our Father.
In Christ this plan is our life because His life, His outlook, His relationship with Father is our life. He is incarnated in us by the Spirit of Sonship. In the Spirit, Father is who He is in spirit and in truth and similarly we are daughters and sons who delight in knowing and doing only what Father is doing.
‘Jesus gave them this answer: "Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does’ John 15.9 NIV.
In Christ we are in God, one with Father, Son and Holy Spirit and they in us. Separation is done with. Union with God is the reality. The shadow has passed and the reality is here. Christ in us is the hope of increasing glory. Living, moving and having our being in God we are sons and truly one with God. There is no ‘great controversy’ for us because Satan has been defeated and we do not live in the dichotomized world of the knowledge of good and evil. Don’t boost his ego by considering him a rival of our Lord. Jesus ‘Has made the two one.’ We live in God and are His emissaries of authority and grace.
‘For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it’ Eccl 12.7 NIV.
PASSING FROM DEATH TO LIFE
There is more to being one with our Father than union by the One Spirit while living in our bodies. This union means going to be with Jesus and our Father at the death of our body. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. There is a circle of life as sung about in the Movie, The Lion King.
We can do better than the circle portrayed in that movie. We come from God. We live in God. We go back to God. Our identity as sons of God is preserved and enhanced. At the death of our body we go back to God. We don’t just dissolve into the ground. Our atoms are not absorbed into an abstract and inert cosmos. We do not lose our identity. We gain it. It is true that in Him we live, move and have our being in this life in the body. It is true also that anyone who is in Christ has passed from death to life full stop. We come from God and go back to God. We enjoy spirit and life in this life and in Christ we have eternal life. In Christ death cannot separate us from God. At death our spirit goes to be with God. Paul says not even death can separate us from God.
Paul also writes, ‘We are of good courage, I say, and prefer to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord’ 2 Corinthians 5:8 Sound doctrine teaches there is no intermediate state. The Bible teaches us there is no soul sleep but instant entrance into God's presence and home. So, heaven is our eternal home. Our Lord is there. Our friends and our loved ones in Christ are there. A vast crowd of witnesses are already there.
There is reference to death as ‘sleep’ in 1 Thess 4.13-18. This reference to “sleep” is a metaphor for death which compares one thing (physical death) to another (sleep). It is used of believers because for us, death is somewhat like sleep. The use of the word “sleep” for death is used only of believes in the New Testament. The aim of this metaphor is to suggest what death is like and means to the believer, but this must be understood in the light of all of Scripture:
(1) As the sleeper does not cease to exist while his body sleeps, so the dead person continues to exist. The grave is like a bed for the body.
(2) As the immaterial part of man when asleep is still functioning to some degree in that he dreams and his sub-conscious is still at work, so likewise the believer’s soul and spirit are awake and enjoying the presence of God.
(5) In 1 Thess. 5, the word used for sleep is a different Greek word and in the context refers, not to physical death, but to spiritual and moral complacency.
By believing in Jesus we have passed from death into life. Truly, truly, those who have the Son have life and have passed from death into life.
‘For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better’ Phil. 1:21-23. When Paul wrote this he was in prison and Jesus was in heaven.
‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life’ John 5.24 NIV.
‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Rom 8.38,39 NIV.