While we were in Israel, I found a book by Dan Stone and Greg Smith sitting on the book shelf, The Rest of the Gospel; When the Partial Gospel has Worn You Out. I was worn out! So I read it. Oh my goodness! I finally found the person I was so desperately seeking back in Chapter Eleven that would give me permission to stop striving and simply believe. The message in that book was just what I needed and it changed me.
Basically, the book explained how we foolishly continue asking, begging, pleading, striving, fasting, praying, hoping, claiming, declaring, ad nauseam to get what God has already given us. Yes! You’ve described my life Dan Stone and Greg Smith. I am so dang worn out! It was the best news ever. The spirit of the Christ actually, for real, all the time is in me fully. All those times in the prayer room, all my morning devotional times were an effort to get the spirit of God to be full in me, and there always seemed to be some obstacle to overcome before that would happen. Namely the sin in me which was always difficult to identify. I knew God’s spirit was in me, but it felt like there were different amounts that God would parcel out according to my earnestness or my lack of earnestness.
Dan Stone and Greg Smith were saying I could stop jumping through all those hoops and just BE. There was one sentence in the book that shocked me into a new realm of understanding. The reality of Christ in me could be describe like this, “Christ as me.” It rang true. It resonated with me deeply. But I thought, “OH, I’d better be careful who I say this to because it sounds heretical. It sounds like I’m saying that I am God.” But it’s not that. It’s that the communion with Christ is so complete that Christ actually shows up on this earth as me… and you.
If you think of the Spirit of God like a continuous flow of Love that goes right through you and me and all we need to “do” is be aware, then you have some idea of what I mean. Of course I don’t always allow that flow to be free, but I can stop working myself up about it and trying to make it happen, and I can stop feeling so guilty about it when shit happens or I just forget to be aware. God’s not worried about it, God just is… all in all.
God makes a statement about his own name, a statement that defines this being we have called God. When Moses asks God, “who should I say sent me?” God replies, “say I AM who I AM sent you”. Catholic Bishop Robert Barren says that when God makes this claim “I AM who I AM” it’s like God is saying, “My manner of being is being itself”. Let that sink in. Don’t skim over it. Ponder. Wonder. Contemplate. Does that being somehow encompass human beings? All life?
Orthodox scholar Olivier Clement (1921-2009) writes, “The purpose of the incarnation is to establish full communion between God and humanity so that in Christ humanity may find adoption and immortality, often called ‘deification’ by the [early Eastern Orthodox] Fathers: not by emptying out our human nature but by fulfilling it in the divine life, since only in God is human nature truly itself.”
This is such good news, on two levels. First, the whole point is union! Second, human nature is embraced by God, it is not a thing that is repulsive to him or that needs to be killed. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 120-200) explains how salvation through Christ works: “He became what we are so that we might become what He is.”
The Bible verse that now describes my way of thinking about God and me, and how we relate is this: Acts 17:28 “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Being... It is this simple. It is this true. We are one…all of us. The apostle Paul was saying this to people who were not Christians. What?!?