The happy calling of
Union Life is
to present to hungering and thirsting Christians the revealed truth of union
with Christ. With what immense stress and devotion to Christ's word and work
has the fact of justification been hammered home to needy hearts throughout
Christendom! In contrast, how hesitantly has any declaration concerning the
joyous counterpart of redemption, the fact of union, been conveyed to them.
To realize the force of the statement ". . . them He also
glorified," we turn to Jesus' own statement in John 17:22-23: "The glory
You gave Me I have given them," going on to describe this gift as "I in
them, and You in Me." What was this glory which the Father had given Him? It
was not only justification. It was nothing less than the Father's personal
indwelling, making Jesus the unique expression of the Father. This, says
Jesus, is the glory He gives us. Now each of us may boldly assert with deep
thankfulness, "I am a unique expression of the Father through the indwelling
Christ." The transition we make, as we awake to the glorious fact of union,
is from the recognition of Christ as
unique expression of the Father to seeing ourselves also as unique
expressions of the Father. This is what it means to be glorified (in
spirit, not now in body, as the body glorification will come later at what
Paul calls "the manifestation of the sons of God"). Christ is the original
Son; we are derived sons. But even now in our spirits we know this union and
are seeing ever more andmore
fully the effects of this heightened consciousness.
The major effect of an
awareness of union with Christ is that separation, the fruit of the fall, is
overcome. Never again do I have to try to feel or try to find God, for He is
joined to me in an indestructible union. It is more than an intimacy or a
feeling of closeness with God, because the life in the Spirit is beyond that
of feelings. It is a union in which separation is totally eclipsed, and I am
aware only that He lives and that I am the means of His manifestation.
The wonder, delight and practice of this awareness fills
the heart, and life is now lived in a new freedom. Not only is Calvary real to me, but
now Pentecost is also real - "God has come" in addition to "God has given."
The loss of a geographically-present Christ has made possible the inner
Christ for each of us. Now we possess inner resources which are purely
Christ being Himself within my human personality. How different this is from
trying to become like Christ. Only Christ can be Christ. How wonderful that
He does it in me.
But now to move on to
the mature life in Christ. Those who live "in the Spirit" live nevertheless
in an unalterable and deeply enjoyed duality, for we never become the
transcendent God. This is a mystery - a paradox. God has graciously removed
from us the misconception of the human self which had wrecked our peace and
robbed us of power. Now we have come to a right concept of duality - a
duality in union.
Jesus' whole life and
ministry was embedded in this consciousness, which was expressed in so many
ways at so many times. In saying, "I and the Father are one," He was not
ruling out a distinction, but denying any possible separation. Again, "He
that has seen me has seen the Father" meant that He was the revealer of the
Father. He did not say He was the Father. He also said, "My Father who is
greater than I," showing again His supreme consciousness of a "duality in
perfect unity" out of which streamed His endless love and His redemptive
works. The important revelation of His life was that, in addressing the
Father, He was not addressing a distant person, but One who was the inner
being of His human life. That is why He spoke to Philip about seeing the
Father in Him. He constantly directed attention to Another, but this
Another was inescapably a part of His own being, and by no means to be seen
as separate from Him. Even in nature man is
seen as rooted in God (Acts 17:28). God is also referred to in Scripture as
"the Father of spirits." There is only one Life, as there is only one
Creator. But how much more, and with what saving effect. This life is
expressed by those who know they are rooted in God and know they are
inseparable from Him. They are rooted in the love of God, not in His wrath.
So we endorse the
words that God is "the Beyond in the midst"-always an inner reality, but
always the transcendent God, beyond our comprehension and the mystery of all
being. He does not parallel my existence; He is my existence - in nature and
grace. So in union life we have emerged with a holy and happy duality - a
duality within unity - a God within by whom we live. We are and yet we are
not ourselves. There are writers who bend over backwards to avoid duality in
expressing truth, but in so doing they lose the balance which Jesus
carefully preserved for His disciples.
"Union with Christ"
has no significance unless we understand that Christ is transcendent and far
beyond our human limitations. God is the "wholly Other," and as such is the
only authentication for our new identity in His beloved Son.