Saturday, October 17, 2009

God Consciousness

I was recently struck by Paul's statement in Acts 17 that, "in Him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28) Even those of us who believe in Jesus tend to see ourselves as self-possessed individuals living an independent existence in this physical world. We may have a relationship with God, but we believe there is a separation between us. God is in some distant realm we call, "Heaven," while we inhabit a physical body and face a series of daily choices in this material world. God may visit us and help us from time to time, but as far as our perceptions of things go, we're on our own. This becomes a source of anxiety for some of us, because we believe we will be required to face God one day and give an accounting of both our deeds and mis-deeds. This, it seems to me, heightens the appeal of doctrines that assure the security of the believer. The problem with the perception and the remedy is that they lead Christians to live what an earlier generation called, "defeated lives." In other words, this belief that we are on our own and that God is out there somewhere evaluating our lives does not prevent moral compromise, it too often enables it. So, when we find our temper get the best of us, when we lie or cheat, we chalk it up to, "nobody's perfect," and "I'm not perfect, I'm just forgiven." Both of these things are true for Christians, by the way, but they are not the ideal. They are not what God really had in mind in sending His Son to rescue us from sin.

When Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again," He was referring to the need to be born of the Spirit. We believe, as a theological doctrine, that Christians are born of the Spirit and thus have the Spirit of God, "living in their hearts." We agree with Paul's statement in I Corinthians, "you are the temple of the Holy Spirit." The problem is that while we believe this in the abstract, we don't believe it on the level of our daily choices and reality. I assume, actually, that this is exactly why Paul gave this reminder to the Corinthians. They were engaging in immoral behavior and he had to bring them up short by pointing out the indwelling presence of Spirit in their lives.

The Kingdom of God operates on the principle of faith. If we believe, we receive. Part of the reason God is not as real to us as we would like Him to be, is that we don't really believe that He is with us. I would encourage us to spend some time reading and meditating on John 14:15-21. It explains to us how we truly live and move and have our being in God. He is our life, as we abide in Him by faith, our life will be filled with the fruit of His grace, love, and presence. Remember faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God, we must cultivate our sense of the presence of God through prayer, worship, and pondering the incredible truths of the word. May we all realize the absolute validity of Paul's declaration, "In Him we live and move and have our being."