Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Near Him, in Him, complete in Him, know Him

As I said in my "Even Keel" post the other day, my general disposition in life, ever since beginning to have my heart established in grace in the mid 90's has truly been "even keel." Of course that doesn't mean I've never gone through times of doubt, anxiety, lack of understanding, etc. I've not always walked 100%, all the time, in the freedom for which Christ has set me free. In my heart I've not always lived as the beloved child of God that I really am.

However, back then when I began to understand that in Christ I am already complete, and that God isn't angry with me, and that I really am His beloved, and that my "strengths" and "failings" have absolutely nothing to do with where I stand with Him, the weights were lifted off of me and the up and down rollercoaster ride ended. I began to live from a state of being complete in Christ, rather than trying to attain a state of completion (see The Starting Point). I began to live from the life of Christ that is already in me, which is now my life, rather than trying to look to Him to give me "more of Him." I stopped trying to "enter in" to His presence through worship services and through "toiling" in prayer, and realized that I am in His presence 100% of the time!

Again, it's not that I've always lived all of this out perfectly, but the point is that ever since I began looking at things according to the truth of what the Bible says about who I already am in Christ, and indeed not just knowing about the truth, but knowing the Truth - a Person, Jesus Christ Himself - I've been walking much more of an "even" life, even in the midst of all of the good and bad circumstances in life.

When you're always trying to attain something from God through what you do or through your own strength and determination, or through trying to "break through" into His presence (a big theme from my Pentecostal past), you're always going to fall short! You may think you've had a victory or two here and there, but yet you always end up stretching and striving and seeking for "more," and you never get there!

It's hard to become intimately acquainted with someone when you're never really sure where you stand with them, or when you think you have to always go through some special process in order to get through to them or to get their attention. In Christ we can be assured of where we stand with God. He has wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us and has taken away our sin - and He has given us His very life and come to dwell in us!

James says, "draw near to God and He will draw near to you." Is this a legalistic statement that disregards the fact that in Christ we have already been brought near to God by the blood of Jesus (Eph 2:13)? Is it meant to get Christians to try to come up with methods, steps, principles, worship songs, prayers, etc, through which we'll hopefully find a way into God's presence? What if we simply walk in the understanding that Christ is in us and we are in Him at all times, and use James' words as encouragement to have loving fellowship with our God and Father, not through struggling and striving, but through love and faith!


  1. I promise I did not read your post before I wrote. This is some funky stuff, like we're channeling God, or something...;)

  2. Joel,
    Beautiful follow-up to yesterday's. Amen...knowing to whom we belong to, knowing we are loved by our Papa, enables us to pick ourselves back up when we fall into angst or fear during our struggles. It is His love that enables us to know an underlying peace, hope and receive his unlimited grace.

    Blessings my friend,
    ~Amy :)

  3. Joel--I wonder if the James passage you quoted at the end is maybe trying to point us to the reality of our life in Christ, instead of commanding us to do something.

    Now I read those verses, and others like them, as encouragement to live according to what's already true. Before, I would read them as rules to follow so I could make something happen...

  4. Joelsie...
    I have loved reading the bible through "grace eyes"...its amazing how things have different meanings now...much like that James text...i mean, everything in Gods word has grace running through it, so it HAS to be encouragement, NOT a striving to "get" to a place that we are already "seated in"...Thing is, DO WE BELIEVE IT! Its easy to do 10 things to get us there (although we never do), its harder to believe/trust/have faith we are there...

  5. RJW,

    I read your post (but haven't had time to comment). Spooky! LOL Great stuff.


    Yep indeed. Knowing who we are and to whom we belong seems to be the biggest battle in the Christian life! As we get ourselves rooted and established in the truth of all this, we'll know His peace and love and hope more and more.


    Right on! I don't see James' words as a commandment but an invitation to live as who we really are, according to what's already true. You put it very well.


    I too love the "grace eyes" that see the scriptures in such a different light! The scriptures are full of truth about who God is and who He has made us to be.

    And indeed, "do we believe it?" is a great question. If we don't believe what the Bible says is already true about us, then it's only natural that we'll try to find ways to attain it. And so it comes down to, do we believe that we are already close to God, seated in the heavenly places, righteous, holy, one spirit with God, etc, etc.

  6. Joel,
    One thing comes to my mind is that Jesus said, 'seek and you shall find'. Now the questions is, if we have found, why are we still seeking?
    so, when I am seeking something, either I am now aware that I have it or I don't have it.

    Once we find it, we will settle ('even keel') in. I like it.

  7. I meant to say - '...either I am NOT aware'

  8. "I stopped trying to "enter in" to His presence through worship services and through "toiling" in prayer, and realized that I am in His presence 100% of the time!"

    "It's hard to become intimately acquainted with someone when you're never really sure where you stand with them, or when you think you have to always go through some special process in order to get through to them or to get their attention."

    Wow! Awesome post, Joel!! I'm glad I didn't miss this one.

    I went through that phase of trying to press into God. What a horrible time of insecurity that was - never feeling totally accepted or loved by God, never feeling like I was doing enough.

    Understanding that his love isn't based on what I can do but that he loves me because I'm his daughter has freed me and I can now come close to him without fear of being rejected.

    Thanks for this post.

  9. Bino,

    Somehow your comment got by me. I'm sure I meant to reply to it when you first posted it!

    I like what you say... If we have found it, why are we still looking for it.

    As sort of an echo to what you're saying/asking, this reminds me of thoughts I have about Jesus' words "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." For believers, hasn't the kingdom already come? (Haven't we already "found" it?). Don't we already have His righteousness? Why are Christians hungering and thirsting for "more" of God, and trying to 'press into' His kingdom, when He's already given us all we need?


    I can relate to your phase of trying to press into God. Indeed... you never really "arrive," do you? Nothing is ever enough. If only the church would stop trying to seek what it already has, and instead would live as the beloved Bride that they are.