DayBreaks for 8/11/17: In Union With Christ
From the DayBreaks archive, 8/9/2007:
The following excerpts were from an Orthodox priest, Stephen Freeman. I hope they spur your thinking…
“True Christianity is a life lived in union with Christ and all that we do that has value is what we do in union with Him.
“It is in reflecting on this that I ponder many conversations I hear (or overhear). Many times I hear myself or others expressing dismay or anxiety over a situation, or plotting to achieve one goal or another. The frightening dynamic in many of these conversations – let alone the actions that flow from them – is the dynamic of secularism. We live as though there were no God, or as if the God Who Exists is not able to act within our world. Having decided what is in God’s best interest, or the interest of the faith, we design our efforts (perhaps even thinking to please Him).
“But God does not seek to be pleased by actions taken in separation from Him. It is union with God that saves us (and this alone). Neither can we undertake any activity that has a saving character except that activity be taken in union with Christ.
“Why should we love our enemies and pray for them? Because there is little else you can do for them that is in union with Christ. You cannot seek vengeance in union with Christ. You cannot even seek to “fix” other people in union with Christ. The action of Christ is always respectful of our freedom and always acts in love. Action in union with Christ cannot have some other character.
“Actions such as kindness and mercy, patience and love are easily lived in union with Christ. But our secular mindset rarely sees such actions as useful.”
I was struck recently as I studied the life of Jacob by Jacob’s methodology in Genesis 32. This is just before he is scheduled to meet up with his brother, Esau. The last time they’d been together, Jacob had been running for his life, and he didn’t know how Esau would now respond. So, Jacob makes his plans and puts them into action. Then, in verse 9, after he’s put his plans into action, he prays to God for blessing and protection. It strikes me that the sequence is reversed, or should be. Shouldn’t we seek God’s will and plan before we put our own into place? Why don’t we? Partly, I think, because of what Freeman says in the second paragraph above: “we live as though there were not God, or as if the god Who Exists is not able to act within our world.”
It is only those who are believers who can be guilty of this shortcoming. Why are we smitten with this disease of thinking that I Am isn’t able to act in the world today? Perhaps it’s mostly because we’ve never asked Him to really reveal Himself to us. Perhaps it’s because we don’t even have the faith to ask Him to act in the first place, or we hedge our bets in our prayers with phrases like, “If it is your will…”. Mind you, it’s not a bad thing to pray for God’s will to be done. It’s biblical. But it’s also just as biblical (in fact, there may be more examples of this than the prior) to boldly ask God for exactly what we want – be it a loaf of bread, a drink of water in the desert, the parting of the waters or the ability to walk on their surface. But we don’t do this very often – we’re afraid that others will hear us, and if we don’t get what we asked for, will think we’re not very spiritual.
Freeman’s point is valid: we need to live in union with God, joining ourselves to Him and His purposes and His desires. And that includes living and acting as if He still exists and will do great things that we can’t imagine.
PRAYER: Lord, teach us to live in union with you, to not become dismayed or anxious, to not plot our own victories and deliverances, but to wait patiently and always act in union with You. Don’t let us run ahead of you, or lag behind, but always walk by Your side. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>