Photo by Ron Reeve – Virginia Beach, VA at Sunrise
Ann Voskamp, a woman with a marvelous gift for painting word pictures, said in a recent blog, ….
the glory of God tabernacled in the skin of Jesus.
And the grace and truth of Jesus now tabernacles in you.
Her words reminded me of a conversation I once had with a fellow Christian. I questioned a specific sociological view common among many Christians, commenting it didn’t seem to fit with the teaching of Jesus. The woman retorted dismissively, “Well, we’re not Jesus!”
That conversation led me on a journey of spiritual discovery during which I sought to reconcile the meaning of the Apostle Paul’s statement to his friends in Galatia,
“ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)
What did Paul mean? Were his words relevant to me in the 21st Century? Oftentimes, I prayed, God, I believe this is truth, but what do these words look like in practicality for me?
I am grateful for my faith tradition. Early years in Sunday School, learning Bible stories, memorizing scripture verses and attending lots of church services and extracurricular religious activities laid a firm foundation upon which my faith continues to grow.
I observed deep love for God. Much of the teaching, however, came from a legalistic, harsh perspective. Sometimes I questioned whether the true heart of God was exhibited. Frequently frustrated, I sought to connect spiritual teaching with actions that didn’t seem congruent with Jesus’ character.
Doctrine and dogma may keep a person on the ‘straight and narrow,’ but will not transform an individual’s heart.
Transformation is a process of becoming aware of and turning away from my self-centered nature and turning toward the nature of Jesus, who in fact, lives within me. I love The Message paraphrase of Paul’s words from Galatians 2:20.
…I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
I no longer spend much time trying to figure out other Christian’s motives and behaviors. Keeping tabs on my own heart seems a full-time endeavor! The more I realize the very Spirit of the Jesus I’ve loved since childhood lives in me, the more I want to mimic him and encourage others to do likewise.
If each of us listened with our heart to what the Spirit within was saying, I can only imagine the force for good we would be in our wounded, fractured world.
I’m praying for us as we consider this thought…