“Lord, I went wandering like a stray sheep, seeking you with anxious reasoning weighted within me. I wearied myself much in looking for you without. Yet you had your habitation within me. If only I had desired you, and panted after you. I went around the streets and squares of the cities of this world and I found you not, because in vain I sought without for you who were within.” – Augustine of Hippo
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for You, God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Looking without for that which is within is the vain pursuit of so many who are believers in God, but have not yet come to be true disciples of Jesus Christ. If a seeker of God is seeking Him with sincerity of heart and full commitment, the Holy Spirit inhabits that person. The union relationship with God has begun.
“Union with Christ,” writes Karl Barth, ” is the starting point for everything else to be thought and said concerning what makes a Christian a Christian.” The “Christian life” is not about living better or managing sin more effectively, tasks we are incapable of doing. The Christian life is the restored union and communion with our God. That union, not better behavior, is the primary purpose of our salvation and our faith. Better behavior will flow from a life in union with God.
The “Christian life,” then, is is Christ living His life in us by the Holy Spirit Who indwells us. Our role is to get out of the way of the life of the Spirit in us, allowing Him to take over and restore in us the Life of God. The better we are at laying down our efforts and self-management and self-improvement, the deeper we progress into the life of our God. Better still, the deeper we go into the life of God lived in us instead of our own lives. “Whoever finds his life will lose it,” said Jesus, “but whoever loses his life is the one who will find it.”
Isaiah 55: 1-3
You there! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
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