“And you can see them there on Sunday morning
Stand up and sing about what it’s like up there
They called it paradise, I don’t know why
You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye”
“The Last Resort” (Written by T. Graham Brown and Bruce C. Bouton)
The Eagles sang these words as a stinging comment on the church and its preoccupation with Heaven at the expense of other values. Indeed, many believers think of salvation primarily in terms of going to heaven when they die. Yet for Jesus and the Apostles, living in our New Covenant, Kingdom of God relationship now, in this life, is as prominent if not more so than heaven. Heaven as described in the Bible is the completed state of the deep, growing, dual relationship we are offered in Jesus today. This deep intimate union with our God by means of His indwelling Spirit now is the point of the Christian faith. It is, as Leanne Payne says, “the central and unique truth of Christianity.”
What do I mean by a “dual relationship” with our God offered to us in Christ Jesus? We are placed in Christ, and benefit from all that Christ has done for us. At the same time, Christ is placed in us by His Holy Spirit. Watchman Nee used the illustration of a bottle placed in the ocean, while at the same time the ocean pours into and fills the bottle. Completely immersed in the ocean, and yet filled with the ocean as the same time. Because we are immersed in Christ Jesus, we gain all the benefits of all that He has done for us. And if we are open to Him, His life flows into us and fills us. We live by His divine power because He lives His life in us.
From this dual relationship we gain the fullness of our life with the Triune God now, in this life. This is what the Son of God came to restore in us on the cross of Calvary. This relationship by which we live in Christ and He lives in us is what returns us to the communion humans had with our God before sin entered our nature. It restores us to companionship with our God. It is the basis for a growing oneness between us and our God.
George MacDonald said it this way: “When our hearts turn to him, that is, opening the door to him . . . then he comes in, not by our thought only, not in our idea only, but he comes himself, and of his own will. Thus, the Lord, the Spirit, becomes the soul of our souls . . . Then indeed we are; then indeed we have life; the life of Jesus has become life in us. We are one with God forever and ever.”
This brings us back to our previous posts on why the crucified life is the only life for the true disciple of Jesus Christ. The only way for the life of Christ to be lived in us is for us to live a crucified life. Until we give up all self-will, self-determination and self-reliance, it is the person and not the Holy Spirit who is in control. All the benefits of this dual relationship with Jesus Christ depend upon our commitment to be crucified daily. The old nature in us will war against the life of Christ in us, it will not cooperate with our abiding in Christ. The One who calls you to righteousness is the One who by your consent offers to live that righteousness in and through you. We must consent daily. We must welcome the crucified life, we must seek it out every day. When we do, we will experience the richness of our life in Christ and His life in us.
AW Tozer illustrated this clearly when he wrote: “In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross; if he refuses the cross he remains on the throne…we want to be saved but we insist that Christ do all the dying. No cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king … and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.”
Unfortunately, a great many Christians have never understood these transactions. They have never understood the dual relationship with have with Jesus now. Those who stay on the throne of control in life and do not put the self-life on the cross are doomed to living in the shadows, in weakness and spiritual sterility. They may miss the divine power and other benefits we have in Christ Jesus. That is indeed a tragedy.
“The measure of a person’s worth is the measure in which he or she no longer lives “to and for self,” but “to and for Jesus Christ.” No more and no less! Abiding in the love of God is our only hope, the only true home for our hearts. It’s not that we mentally acknowledge that God loves us. It’s that we let our hearts come home to him and stay in his love.” John Eldredge