We value our freedom. We will die for our freedom. We declare our autonomy. We have a deep desire to make our own decisions free from coercion. I can do what I want to do as long as it does not hurt anyone else we argue. Don’t tread on me. I live in the home of the brave and the land of the free. Don’t judge me. Don’t lay your moral code on me. I will judge for myself. I will follow my own sense of moral right. Only I can decide what is right for me.
I think our autonomy is God given. We are unique persons with our own characteristics, abilities, desires, needs, goals, etc. We are made in God’s image. We can reason. We have emotion. We recognize beauty. We desire to create. We sense moral good and evil. We love. We freely make decisions and act on them.
But something is terribly wrong with our exercise of autonomy. If when applying our autonomy to real life situations we abandon what is true about ourselves, then we have a serious problem. Examples abound. When a man decides that he is not male, but female, something is seriously wrong. When a society decides that certain human beings, Blacks, or Jews, or Catholics for example are in fact not human then something is seriously wrong. In the name of personal freedom we now turn the definition of marriage on it head to the point that it has no meaning left in it. In the name of personal freedom we say that a baby in the womb is nothing but tissue suitable for harvesting or careless disposal. In the name of autonomy we lower our borders to any who would come into this country, many, not all but many, bring evil intent with them including murder, rape, robbery, and terrorism. In the name of autonomy we are destroying the very fabric of society. I have a right is our rallying cry with anarchy only a breath away.
Man is free, but dependent. Man does not create, he derives. God has placed us in a universe that uniquely supports us. Plants grow and can be harvested to our benefit. Animals can be domesticated to provide nourishment, clothing, even companionship. Within the world God has created for us we are free to eat vegetables, or meat, or both. We can seek our own kind of labor and profit from it. We can breathe the air around us and drink the water that fills our rivers. We can go and come as our whims lead us. Yet in our freedom we depend on what God has provided at every moment of our lives. I am not free from God’s natural law. Gravity wins every time.
There is another dependence that we pay little attention to as we extol our autonomy. We are made in a way that makes us respond to an external spirit. Our human spirit responds to a spirit that is apart from ourselves. God designed us to respond to the Holy Spirit. In our exercise of freedom we were to have God guiding us by His Spirit. We were not made to be robots, but we were made to depend on God to show us what was good in our lives. In the Garden of Eden we decided to assert our autonomy and be like God. We would decide for ourselves what was good or evil for us. In that moment we abandoned our dependence on God’s Spirit and we allowed Satan’s spirit to have sway over our free choices.
What we see today is the consequence of that decision. We are dependent, derivative beings. We depend on spirit to guide us. That is how we are made. We will follow the leading of spirit. We cannot avoid this truth anymore than we can avoid the effects of gravity. What we see in the world is the product of an evil spirit influencing mankind.
Most of us don’t think about the impact of a spirit on our lives. The presence of that spirit is hardly perceived. We only recognize what spirit is guiding us by the fruit that it produces. At the root of the relativism that surrounds us man insists on his autonomy. This includes his absolute freedom from God. He turns his back on God in ways that are beyond rational. In doing so the father of lies places his intent in them and manifests evil through them.
The evidence for man’s need to return to his dependence on God is vividly clear. We are not facing simply political, moral, or ethical issues that a consensus will cure. There is no political solution for our present state. We are facing a spiritual issue that can only be addressed by dethroning Satan’s spirit and replacing him with God’s very presence, His guiding Spirit. In a word, mankind needs to be saved. He needs to be saved from his own autonomy, from his own self-serving living under Satan’s influence.
People need to know the power of the Cross and the Spirit that flows from it. There and only there rests our hope. Christ in you the hope of glory.
It is easy to find problems within the Church. It does not matter what denomination, they all have some serious problems. The same problems exist no matter where you look. The same issues exist in liberal churches and in conservative ones.
The core problem is that we no longer know whom we are or what we are to be doing. We live in a fallen world. We live in a world where morality is thrown to the wind and where ethics are seen as anachronistic. Politics follow suit and display the base of human motives. Christians jump into the fracas. We offer our Biblical World View and we try to answer every moral question society poses. We lay down the law. We interpret what is good and bad around us and we make judgments. We are the people of the word, preservers of the faith, and keepers of the doctrine. We have right on our side. We are the people of God. We fight fire with HOLY FIRE. The result is frustratingly, dismally small.
Most of our mainline, large denominations are crumbling. Some are dividing themselves and eating their own. However, you say these are important issues. These are vital to keeping the church pure. We need to take a stand in society and push back against evil. I say indeed, amen and amen. I pick up my sword and I enter the battle and soon I am surrounded by darkness and evil that is beyond description. I soon find that my weapons are those of the world, not of God. I have no power except persuasion and a little of the truth and that has no impact on a deaf and sightless world.
God is light. Jesus is the light of the World. Jesus was born into a dark world. He brought light and men loved the darkness more than the light. It has been that way from the beginning of Christ’s ministry and it will be that way to the very end when he returns triumphant. We fight back against the evil in the world to no avail, with no effect. Why? We are attacking the symptoms not the cause. We are relying on human means to fight a spiritual battle. We have forgotten who we are.
We need to get something straight. We were not put here to create heaven on earth. Jesus promised that on this earth we would experience suffering. The City of Gold and the time for no more tears are closer than any other time in history, but they are not here yet.
I am not being morose. We do experience joy, but that has far more to do with who we are than with what the world can offer. Christians need a reality check. The more they know who they are the more the world will reject them. Praise God not all. By the grace of God, some will get it if we will simply wake up and realize who we are. We have lost contact with our ontology, our very being.
If you are not dying to know who you are by now, I have lost you. Who are you really? Let me ask it another way. What makes you a Christian? Is it correct answers to a long list of doctrinal question? Is it a properly understood belief system? Is it a set of morals diligently kept that makes you a Christian? Is it your discipline in reading the word and keeping God’s law? Perhaps your sacrificial love for others makes you a Christian.
I can hear someone screaming “Faith Alone” makes me a Christian, well yes in a way. We cannot become a Christian until we receive what God offers us in Jesus. We certainly live our Christian life by receiving day to day the grace God has for us. If your faith varies, does who you are, as a Christian vary? Does the degree to which you are Christian waver depending on your human ability to have faith? The answer to that is no. That answer is based on the knowledge of who you are.
We are in the world and that is the pits. We are not of the world a wonderful miracle God has provided. What happened in this fundamental transformation? The answer is our rebirth of course. The problem is that we do not realize the extent to which that miracle has touched our lives.
You see we are dependant beings. We are the branches not the vine. We are the vessel not the wine. We were created dependent on spirit, either God’s Holy Spirit or the spirit of the deceiver, Satan. That is a pretty harsh reality to know that most of the world is under the influence of evil including ourselves before we knew Christ. It is wonderful to be free of Satan’s direction. Notice what we are not in the above sentences. What is coming has been interpreted as pantheism, or panentheism. It is neither. The vessel does not become the wine or the wine the vessel even though they are united.
“…do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cor. 13:5) Who are you? You are a Christ-One. You have within you the very presence of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So what you ask? What does that mean to have Christ in me? How does that change who I am? This is not just a nice verse to memorize. It is a dynamic that influences your every moment, every action, every thought, and every desire. You are a vessel in which Christ dwells. You have available if you receive it all you need to completely and effectively be who God wants you to be. You walk this earth under the influence of Christ himself accomplishing His design for your life, which is to Glorify Him. Paul in Galatians 2:20 expresses it this way: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” There is so much in this verse. Just note the use of “I” by Paul. I have died. Christ lives in me. I live by faith in the Son of God. I live in the flesh. Paul is describing a unity of being. His very being joined with God. Not absorbed into God or replaced by God. Paul is still Paul. Jesus is still Jesus, but they are one. Paul is a new creature in Christ. He has a new mind, a new heart and at the deepest part of his being, he is united with Christ. “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27)
The world seeks to glorify man. Christ seeks glory through the lives of those who would become Christ-Ones. Through those who would walk by receiving all He has for them day-by-day, hour-by-hour, moment-by-moment. Our salvation, our sanctification, our hope of glory rests in the living presence of Christ in us. Who then are we? We are people indwelt, empowered, sustained, directed, purified, sanctified, glorified, by the God of all creation who dares to join Himself with our very being. Please note that this is not a form of perfectionism. Paul makes it clear that he is united with Christ while still abiding in the flesh and all its old habits and tendencies.
We do not have a perfect belief system to offer the world. We do not have perfect understanding of the word. We do not have an answer for every ethical dilemma. We do not have the final word on doctrinal interpretation. We do not have every answer to every problem man faces.
What we have is Christ. What we offer the world is Christ in you the hope of glory. Who we are is what the world so desperately needs. The great commission does not say, “do evangelism,” it says “as you go be evangelists.” It is easy to be who Christ in us has created us to be. Our doing will be the fruit of who we are if we by faith embrace that reality and receive what Christ has for us.
Who are you? You are an indwelt one. You are a new creature united with Christ. Your very being is a testimony to God’s love, mercy, and power. The light of Christ shines through you simply because of who you are in Him. Let it shine. Much of the world and many in the Church will reject that presence in you. Let it shine. Some in the Church and some in the world will get it and in their discovery through you of who they are in Christ, Christ will be glorified.
Do you know who you are? I pray you do.
It is Christ in you the hope of glory. Our hope of glory does not rest in our proper beliefs, or how good we make ourselves, or how complete our doctrine, or how disciplined we can be, or ethical. Our enforcing the law on ourselves and on others will not produce the glory we seek. Only God can produce His character and His perfect obedience in us. Only in Christ can we find the wholeness that our churches, the world, and we seek.
Who are you?