Saturday, July 17, 2010

On being a Christian

May 1, 2010

Hello world. I am a Christian. Do you know what this means? You may think you do. You may say, a Christian is a person who follows the teachings of the man Jesus, whom they call Christ. Or you might say, a Christian is a person who has been "born again" - redeemed by the blood of the Son of God, Jesus, who died on a cross for our sins and was resurrected. I would not say you were wrong, if you were to say that, but neither would I say you had nailed it. See, being a Christian is fundamentally about Christ making His home in a person's heart (Eph 3:17). This happens by loving the Lord (John 14:23). When we love Jesus and spend time in His presence, He and the Father take up residence within us - They move in, get comfortable, make a nest, so to speak.

The purpose of being a Christian actually lines up with the purpose of the universe. You may have, at some time in your life, asked yourself "why?" Why all this motion and commotion and matter and transactions and noise? It is actually a very simple reason. God wanted a home. To quote a small weevil who, according to my dad, sings a famous song, "Everybody needs a hooome..." Even God. But what kind of home is fit for an all-powerful, omnipresent, omniscient divine Being? The answer may be surprising. It is your spirit. And mine, and everybody's, who will agree to it. God is Spirit (John 4:24), and he created man in His image and likeness(Genesis 1:26). Thus, man has a spirit (Zechariah 12:1). In fact (and this may also be a surprising fact), all of those galaxies out there, the solar system, etc., were created for the earth, and the earth was created for man. This is because man was created for God. Specifically, man's spirit was created to contain God. Thus, the spirit of man actually ranks with the heavens and the earth, maybe even outranks them.

But we're actually not done here. Yes, I am a Christian, I have God in my spirit, and yay, God gets a home. But Pamela also has God in her spirit, and Bob, and Jane, and many other people. These are like many abodes (John 14:2) which, in one sense, is fine, but in another sense, God wants A home. Not millions of them. We are all finite people, and He is an infinite God. Sure, being Spirit, He could kind of split Himself into that many pieces and abide separately in all of us, but that just doesn't sound very comfortable, does it? I wouldn't want to live like that. This is where the church comes in. You may also have heard of this thing called the church. Maybe your first thought is a building with a steeple and pretty stained glass windows. Or, perhaps, you'd say the Church is an organization which is headed up by the pope, or, depending on who you ask, the archbishop of Canterbury, or the presbytery, or some other hierarchy. You may even say that the church is not a building or an organization at all, but rather a collection of God's redeemed people, drawn from every nation, tribe and tongue. This last one hits closer to home, but it is still lacking. See, the church is the corporate home of God. The word corporate here does not have anything to do with a corporation. It is meant in two senses. One is in the sense of plurality - that is, made of many people. The other is in the sense of the word corporeal, that is, pertaining to a body. What body is this? It is the Body of Christ (Romans 8:10, 1 Cor. 12:12). Christ Jesus is the embodiment of God, and the church is the embodiment of Christ. Now, just like with your house, you would not want your body in millions of pieces, would you? You wouldn't even want it in a couple hundred pieces (how many denominations are out there today?) So, with God, he wants one Body, one House, in one piece.

You might now want to know how this can be accomplished. You can't exactly melt a bunch of human beings into one big glob. Besides the physical, practical conundrum this presents (sounds kind of messy), human beings are notoriously individualistic. We are highly opinionated and value our freedom above all else. Fortunately for us, we have a very wise God who is quite determined to get His (one) home. Thus, beyond our physical parts, and the opinions, emotions and psychology, we have another part, that part that contains God - the spirit (1 Thess. 5:23, 2 Tim 4:22). The spirit has a wonderful quality. When imbued with the Spirit of God, it has the ability to be entirely one with other human spirits. Thus, this ragtag collection of people called Christians can actually become truly one Body, one Home. As they are built together, fitted together, they grow into a holy temple, a dwelling place of God, in the Lord, in spirit (Ephesians 2:21-22). I particularly love this passage of Ephesians because it points to a practical reality of the church. All the building (the Christians throughout space and time) grows into a holy temple, and "you also" (in this particular case, the Ephesian Christians, but in principle any little group of us thrust together in the constraints of space and time) are being built together into a dwelling place of God, in spirit. So here in Anaheim, where I find myself, I am being built together with the saints around me, and as that happens, we're all growing into God's holy temple. This is God's hope, His joy. It's actually our joy, too. I'm pretty happy knowing that I'm participating in the meaning of the universe. I am God's home.

That's about all. Maybe, if you were wondering about the meaning of the universe, you know now. Maybe you might even want to join in and decide to become a Christian. Maybe if you were a Christian already, you know something you didn't know before. Regardless, you now at least know that I am a Christian, what exactly that means, and that I'm pretty happy about it.

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