Shaking Off Dust (Intro)
Okay before anything else, man, this keyboard is bananas. I am loving each and every word I am producing from this 100% form keyboard… and it’s freaking mechanical!
Ahem. Enough of that. I was about 90 words into the ‘Union’ chapter of Paul Ellis’ The Gospel In Ten Words, when I thought I ought to go ahead and let out any and all of my thoughts on the matter before all else.
Thoughts, being, well… This is one chapter that I know that I enjoyed the first time I read it, and I have to thank God for Paul Ellis because this has affected my being and my way of thinking ever since I took it in – that I have a union, an inseparable union with God. Nothing on this earth can ever separate me from this love.
I have a note upstairs in my corkboard of memories, whose precise words escape me, but they do have the context of God – yes, no less than the Creator of the Universe, telling everyone, and at the moment, telling me – That He will never, no, never leave me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. He will always be with me, He is always for me.
Understand that at this time it was mostly Lakewood that was playing in the car stereo, hence ‘I never, no never.. I’ll never ever stop loving you… Unconditional, forever, I’ll never stop loving you.’
Man, just to take that in. That God will never leave me. That God is always for me. I’ll probably go back to this after I read the exact words I had on that slip of paper but that was pretty much the point.
(Update: Here it is)
That’s how tight we are with God, and it’s not because of our work that we’ve been made this close – And really, if we’re honest, thank GOD that it’s not according to our performance, or thank GOD it isn’t because of anything we did that we’ve been made close to Him – because really, if we claimed any credit for becoming worthy of His presence, much more His attention, much more His affection – that’s a sure setup for failure! God forbid that He, being infinite, would expect us, being made finite by the fall, to attain, much less maintain a good standing with Him!
No, friends, let me be clear, as I have mentioned ceaselessly: It is not because of our work that we have gained and maintain good standing with God… no, it is because of Christ and His finished work that we may come boldly to the throne of grace! Halleluyah!
Exhortation – The Gospel Thus Far
My God, how great He is indeed! My Savior, Jesus Christ, how He truly deserves all our adoration, and all the worship! For because of what He has done, we have beheld the everlasting Love of God as our Father, for each and every one of us. He is love, and we are LOVED. By the Beatitudes, Christ showed us that it was impossible for us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength – By the cross, Christ showed us that God loves us with all His heart, mind soul and strength… ALL of us!
And if that hasn’t been overwhelming on its own, my God… We can continue to dive deeper into this everlasting love, realizing how we have been FORGIVEN of each and every sin we have ever committed, past, present, and future! We say this with full and complete boldness only because the Holy Spirit reveals to us, through the Scripture, that Christ BECAME sin in order for us to become His righteousness – what does this mean? Not only can we say we have been forgiven, but we have been brought into right standing with the Creator of the Universe!
And if that STILL isn’t enough, my God! This Savior who has gone through all these lengths as only He could, for us to be forgiven, lo and behold, He has SAVED us – Check this out! Christ became sin. The wages of sin is death. Therefore when Christ not only took our sin but became our sin He took ALL of the death there was to take! And when the Son of Man breathed His last, and when He was buried… Behold, the Lamb of God has truly taken the sin of the world, and behold, the Lamb of God has truly and indeed finished what He set out to do… The stone was rolled, and He walked out of that tomb, ALIVE – Death could not hold Him down!
And friends, what does this mean? We are, indeed, LOVED, because we have been FORGIVEN and reconciled by His death – and behold, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, He has SAVED us by His life!
‘But Wait! There’s More!’ – Mind-Bending Reality
Friends, I believe just as Christ was not content to eat and drink with us before His death, so Christ was not content to just eat and drink with us after His resurrection. The same Christ who took us to the cross to be crucified with Him, the same Christ who died and rose so we would rise as new creations, He ascended into heaven… and as He has been seated at the right hand of the Father, so we have been seated in the heavenly places with Him!
And what, pray tell, is the proof of our being with Him in the heavenly places? Friends, I believe that as Christ ascended, it was just automatic for the Holy Spirit to descend upon us here in this reality! Our being in the Spirit as the Spirit is in us is proof of the truth that we are simultaneously, seated in the heavenly places! God’s will has indeed been done here on earth as it is in heaven.
Oh, to just take this in gets me to realize how we, as new creations in Christ, have been expanded in our beings, much so that our reality is no longer what our physical bodies perceive is real – No, our reality is that which is unseen, and that which is infinite and eternal!
Gosh, just going through this, and just typing this all down has me stopping myself, to think how I simply could just lose my mind IF I tried to take in all in – but that’s the thing! I do not know everything, I CANNOT know everything, but it’s okay, because even here and now, while time and space matters, I have God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the One who knows everything there is to know and more – and because of Christ, I know that He is FOR me, and He is NOT against me!
Oh, I am LOVED – I AM LOVED! I know this because by Christ I am forgiven into UNION with Him, and I am SAVED by His resurrection!
And this Union – Nothing can EVER separate me from His love!
Perilous Waters – Appreciating Our Union With God
And I dare push into this further.
For once I joined religion in condemning anything and everything, saying how it all separates us from God – that’s all I knew what to do! But thank God for the union that we have bought by the blood of Christ – because now, the other side of the coin is realized, and now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I can see how EVERYTHING in this world, from the greatest of victories down to the filthiest of atrocities – EVERYTHING reminds me of His love!
Once, as an enemy of God, as one born a sinner, as one separated from Him, that’s all I did. All I knew to do was to condemn – even as I had some semblance of grace in my brain, I was quick to point out fault. Born a sinner, all I knew was to point out sin, being separated, all I knew was to separate.
But praise be to our God, praise be to Jesus, our Savior! For now, not only does He call us servants worthy to serve Him, but He calls us friends! He became our sin so we would become His righteousness, and because we have been made righteous, we are now as close to Him as we could ever be!
So now I implore each and every one of us, not only to move out of our old condemning ways of thinking, but really, to behold the great adventure before us, with Christ who will never leave us nor forsake us – to see how the Creator of the Universe demonstrates His everlasting love in the most trying of circumstances, and speaks peace to the most tempting of heights!
Our eyes have been opened, our minds are renewed, and our worlds have been literally turned upside down – It’s absolutely insane, but at the same time, it’s right where we were born to be!
In this union, there is strength.
At around this time I took some time away from the keyboard… to think. And to just put any lingering, wandering thoughts together.
To navigate what is beyond time and space
To navigate beyond logic and comprehension
To embrace infinity will break us
What is left to do is to allow the Eternal to embrace us instead.
The depths stir, the waves rise and the waters rage. Such is all.
Yet to the darkness, One speaks – ‘Let there be light.’
To the seas and the storms, One speaks – ‘Peace, be still.’
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Indeed, in the union we have with Christ, there is the power. Nothing in all of creation can ever match the Creator who is alive in us, as much as we are alive in Him. It is from this that I have the basis of saying that nothing in this world can ever overwhelm us quite as much as Christ does – the greatest of pain and the highest of pleasures are put in their place: That is, second to Christ.
The Greatest Common Denominator
And, friends, I know I’ve been saying so much, but I will say even more – For because of Christ, we were made, and His finished work re-made us, as new creations – We have been therefore created by Him, and in Him we consist. We are kept together. Christ keeps me together.
Christ keeps me together, and Christ therefore keeps us together.
Pretty sure you’ve heard of Kanye West. Who hasn’t? This guy seemed to attract controversy and loved it. Last October 2019 he was surrounded by even more controversy when he came out with an album named JESUS IS KING. Personally, I already didn’t like the guy ever since he started saying stuff like he was a natural artist, he was saying stuff like he was Yeezus and all that, but all this notwithstanding, I was still pretty curious about this album. I bought it, but I didn’t really listen to it.
No, it was something I saw on Twitter that really had me thinking that this guy had much more going for him than controversy.
Jimmy Kimmel asked him, do you consider yourself to be a Christian music artist now?
He said, ‘I’m just a Christian… everything.’
I couldn’t remember my exact physical and/or emotional response to this when I first watched it, but I would imagine, it’s in the lines of “man, this guy GETS it.”
I retweeted what I watched, with this caption:
The way I see it, Christ paid such a great price to reconcile us to Him that much that I am in Him and He is in us… Christ is that deep to the core of my identity and being that everything else is built on top of Him. Kanye says he’s a Christian everything, and that’s one way to see it… but I would have us also appreciating how we are an everything (“everything” being all sorts of adjectives that would describe us) Christian.
I kept going: “So I’m not a Christian Igorot, nor am I a Christian Filipino. Not a Christian photographer, nor am I a Christian Online Worker. I’m an Igorot-Filipino, frustrated Forex-trading, oligarch-wannabe Christian who happens to have initials JBL, likes landscapes and works online.
And if you think I sound like a crackpot or a broken record, that’s because you’d have to actually kill me to temporarily silence the message of Christ that is literally infused with all my being.”
I’ll say it again: “The Truth is Christ is THAT close to us, that He’s not an adjective that describes us. His finished work declares that we are a noun – Christ and us are ONE.”
We would be employed, and things happen, and then suddenly we’re fired. We would be in a relationship, things happen, and then we’d be single. We’d make good decisions, and we’d get rich. We’d make bad decisions, and we’d be called criminals. My point here is this – that all these adjectives can change… but Christ paid such a great price that now, because we believe, we do not just have the ‘Christian’ adjective, but we are a noun. We’re that close to Christ, and He is that close to us, that we are ONE.
No matter how we make things happen, or no matter how things happen to us, remember that we will ALWAYS be in union with Christ, and there will always be reason to celebrate.
Can you see how understanding Christ and His finished work just breaks everything we used to think about this reality? Can you see how appreciating Christ and His finished work changes how we see things, and how we react to things? Can you see how Christ and His finished work just turns our worlds upside down?
We are THAT united with Christ, so much that Christ Himself is our identity – not merely a portion of us, but encompassing all of our being.
When I understand this for myself, it just sets me free from looking at anyone else in Christ any other way – this is why we sing “I see in you the glory of my King” – because by Christ’s finished work it’s what we see, beyond everything else we agree and disagree upon!
By our union with Christ, we unite.
We’re loved, we’re forgiven, and we’re saved – Any doubts of these guarantees ought to be addressed by Christ’s finished work, which guarantees our inseparable Union with Him.
Christ is THAT close to us that He is our identity. This means
- Christ is our only Constant puts everything in its place: Second to Him.
- There’s nothing closer to our being that Christ. He is infused in all of us, just as we are alive in Him.
- More than anything else, it is Christ that brings us all together. Christ is our only Greatest Common Denominator.
- We understand that nothing separates us from His love, but consider the other side of the coin – that, because of Christ, everything now reminds us of His love.
I’ll say this here – the body of Christ consists of Dutertards and Yellowtards, Democrats and Republicans, Crossfitters and calisthenics enthusiasts, vegans and ketonians. The body of Christ consists of people who like pineapple on their pizzas, and people who pour ketchup on sinigang. Male, female, black, white, yellow, red, blue, and green, we may shoot Nikon or Canon, we may prefer Android over iOS, we may be absolute ENEMIES otherwise – but, because we understand that we are first, and foremost UNITED with Christ now and forever, it is just so AMAZING how we love one another, as He loves us.
In Christ we have been made new, and in Christ we are kept together.
We celebrate our union with Christ by celebrating the body of Christ coming together. By our union with Christ, we unite.
And the whole world will know that we are His disciples, when we love one another.
Christ turns this world upside down.
Novus Ordo Aeternum.