Why We MUST Say "As Us"
Recently I read an article by a well-known writer about the indwelling Christ, who spoke of Christ "living through us." It surprised me that the writer stopped there, at the word "through." Perhaps the writer had a purpose in stopping his exposition at that point, but for me, the truth is not complete at that point.
Of course when I talk like this, often people first of all get all antsy, accusing me of "making them say it" some certain way, which anybody would resist since none of us really like others telling us what to do or how to say things. Or another argument that I've heard a thousand times if I've heard it once is the statement, "Oh, we're saying the same thing. It's just a matter of semantics."
I never have known what people mean when they say that. Usually we can tell when people don't mean the same that we do, even if they use the same words. I looked up the word "semantics," and as far as I can tell, the word has to do with the meanings of words and how they are used. I guess people are meaning that we are saying the same thing using different words.
But I say, "Christ lives as me," or "He lives as us," and any way you shake it, that does not have exactly the same meaning, at least to me, as "Christ lives through me." If people who say, "through me," mean what I am about to explain below, I have no problem with anyone saying the truth in different words, if indeed the "truth" is what they are saying. And Christ living "through me," is truth, no doubt, but I submit it is only a partial truth, and does not come to the total as we are meaning it.
One way to demonstrate that the meanings are not the same, is the effect the words have on people in general. "Christ lives through us," will hardly raise an eyebrow in most Christians who have some understanding that Christ lives in us. In fact, the "Christ in you" truth has become a rising theme in many Christian circles in recent years. As we have traveled through the U.S. over the past few years, everywhere we go we run into others who are familiar with the "Christ in you" truth, some from this source and some from that source. "Have you read so-and-so's book?" we are often asked. "He talks about what you are talking about." And many do approach it.
But most stop at this "through us" place, and that seems for most a very acceptable truth. Most people can get behind that. It offends only a few. Because everyone who names the name of Christ will echo John the Baptist's words, "He must increase, and I must decrease," at least as a goal, whether or not they consider it attainable. Because with "through us," that's what we end up with. We end up with a full Christ and some sort of "transparent" person (me) who contains Him. We see ourselves as persons who have to "get out of the way," so that Christ can be seen. In this sense, the person really has no part in anything, except to get himself out of the way.
And of course we never really can seem to get ourselves fully out of the way -- we always turn up here and there, sometimes in a mighty big way, too! And so while we're "trying" to get ourselves out of God's way, ("let go and let God"), so that He might have a clear unobstructed path into the world through some supposed transparency on our part, it is my observation that most people remain in consciousness and understanding in a "not quite there" situation. Sin consciousness prevails, incompletion reigns, and "Christ lives through me" is sometimes a hit and sometimes a miss. I hear the words, "I sin every day," and, "I'm not there yet," as much from people who say, "Christ in me," as from those who have no understanding whatsoever of this truth. What's the difference?
And all of this is still separation. God is over there, or up there, or even in me, but in me as apart from me -- maybe He lives on the right side of me, while my human me takes up the left side of me. Or however we perceive it. Anyway you cut the mustard, He and I are not one person, if the final result of His indwelling is that He lives only "through me." "I" am not involved, or at least the goal is that "I" am not involved. "Get me out of the way, Lord," we pray. We confess that we ourselves are God's obstacle. Poor God.
But that is not what we are here for, to "get out of the way." Jesus prayed in John 17, verses 11, and 21-23, that we would be "one" in the same way He and His Father are one. The exact same oneness. That's what He said, not me. And He was not just praying for the 11 apostles who were left at the supper table, but for all those who "will come through their word" -- He was praying the same thing for US!!!! Do we dare believe Jesus' prayer is not answered, or that He meant anything less than He asked for? The SAME ONENESS and THE SAME GLORY -- in US!!!!! That's what Jesus Christ prayed for.
Here is how He described His oneness with the Father:
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John 5:19)
Someone might say, "Well, isn't that Jesus 'letting' the Father live 'through' Him?"
Let's read on before we answer that.
For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; (John 5:26)
What this is saying is that, even though the Son does nothing of Himself, He is not uninvolved. Everything the Father is, the Son is.
He offended the Pharisees to the uttermost when He said, "I and my Father are one."
"You are a man," they said, "but by that saying you blaspheme, because you make yourself God."
If you say, "Christ lives through me," they will applaud you because we can take that, especially if we keep it in the hypothetical or occasional realm. If we say, "He lives as me," they will accuse you of blasphemy and making yourself God just as they accused Jesus. Because you have involved yourself, deified yourself they will say, and have not properly gotten "yourself" out of the way.
"Show us the Father," Philip asked later. "Have I been so long with you?" replied Jesus, "that you don't know that when you see Me, you see the Father?"
Jesus doesn't get Himself out of the way. No, He is instead at the forefront, the focal point of the discussion. I AM the WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE," He says. He does not say, "God expressed through me is the way." Jesus and the Father are one. Jesus even goes so far as to say that no one comes to the Father but through Him. HE is the conduit to the Father. When you get Him, you get the Father. He is anything but "out of the way." He is anything but "transparent."
There is a Father ("My father is greater than I") and there is a Jesus and they are distinctly different in office and manifestation, but they are ONE.
And He prayed that we might be ONE in the same way. "When you see me, you see the Father," said Jesus.
"When you see me, you see the Father," I say. As offensive to fleshly ears as that sounds, just as it was so offensive to the religious authorities that they wanted to KILL HIM for it, what other confession can we make but that Jesus' prayer has been fulfilled in our human lives? We MUST say, if we believe Jesus, and if we are to enter into the total, "When you see me you see the Father," or, "He lives as me," or, "My human existence, my words and deeds, are Christ's existence in human form. My words and deeds are His words and deeds." Offensive? Yes, very much so, to some. Truth? Yes, it is the TOTAL TRUTH of who we really are, when Christ has come to live in and be the very Life of our lives.
"Well," many will say, "after all, He was Jesus. He was the only begotten Son of God, so He could say those things." I would agree, except for what He prayed in John 17. He prayed that we might live in the SAME ONENESS. Read the verses.
What about brother Paul? Does he not say the same?
Paul identifies very clearly exactly Who we are in Galatians. Paul is talking about God's promise to Abraham, given in Genesis 12:7: "Unto thy seed will I give this land," the Lord promises Abraham. Later, in Genesis 13:16, God says Abraham's seed will be such a multitude as if we could count the dust of the earth, and in 22:17,18, God promises Abraham's seed will be as the stars in the sky in number, and in Abraham's seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Paul brings out in Galatians chapter 3 that the "seed" God is talking about with Abraham is not plural, as in seeds, but singular in meaning. Abraham's "seed" is Christ, THE CHRIST, in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed -- but -- it becomes plural in the sense that the one seed is as the dust of the ground and the stars in the sky in number, because that one "seed," which is Christ in us, is the same seed in each of us, the same Christ, and therefore the same PERSON, who blesses all the nations of the earth, in each and every one of us, and AS each and every one of us. Paul says we are Abraham's SEED, that is, we are Christ. The Father has only ONE seed, Christ, and that seed, the most powerful seed in the universe, produces Christ. When you plant squash seeds, you get squash. When you plant apple seeds, you get apples. When you plant the Christ seed, CHRIST IS WHO GROWS UP! In us, as us.
And to reinforce the same concept Paul says that he labors and travails until Christ is formed in us. Christ -- in our form (Gal 4:19).
Paul again says in 1 Cor 6:17 that when we are joined to the Lord we are one spirit. One spirit, not two. That's what he says. Jesus told the woman at the well in John 4 that "God is Spirit," and since we know God has said He is "I AM," and Jesus also said, "Before Abraham was, I AM," meaning He is the same as the Father, "I AM." The scriptures very plainly bring out the fact that the human self is also spirit, and then Paul completes the picture when he says our joining to the Lord causes us to be "one spirit." One divine identity, one person, one Life. There is a human and there is a divine, and they are one. When you see the human you see the divine. The Divine lives as the human. The Divine expresses its divinity in humanity.
That is the purpose of our being born again. Not to become independent gods who become Christlike, but to be One with the True God, branches organically united with and offshoots of the TRUE VINE, out of which the fruit of God comes. No abiding in our organic union, as branches growing out of a Vine, no fruit, "For without Me you can do nothing." But abiding in Him, HIS fruit comes out of our lives out of our restful abiding, or remaining, in Him.
We find our true selves only as expressions of Him Who is the True Vine. "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Col 3:3,4) Do we think that Paul is meaning this as something for the bye and bye over in glory, or does not Paul's life testify to the truth of what he says as a NOW event? When does Christ appear in our lives? Right now He appears to the eyes of faith. Right now we discover our true selves, hidden only in Him, and only available to us, when we know the final death of the old "me," through the Cross. When we know that death, know our own emptiness, then His fulness comes in and we become OURSELVES, which is HE IN OURSELVES LIVING AND EXPRESSING HIMSELF AS US.
We come back in totality. We die, only to rise again and LIVE as fully functional, fully operational, fully affirmed RIGHT SELVES. We are no longer afraid of ourselves. We no longer have to "get ourselves out of the way." God doesn't manifest Himself by means of our lives as we in false humility say, "despite us," but BECAUSE of us, because He delights in us, because in us He sees the Son, and He is always delighted in the Son. And we are THAT SON. WE are THAT SEED!
Having once for all died to the old and all that the old was, we rise as only the new, trusting Him in us to be us, therefore trusting our will as his for we seek no separate will. We desire the desires of God, which He has placed in our hearts. We work the works of God, for it is He working in us, not around us, not despite us, but AS YOU AND ME!
If I want to do it, I do it. Because what I do is what I see the Father doing, since the the Father delights in the Son, and is continually in every moment showing the Son what He is doing, so that the Son is likewise doing the Father's works. The Father that dwells in us does the works, and we relax in His working by being simply ourselves.
As we have said over and over, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes!"