Jesus spoke of an inner life that He termed ‘spirit and life.’
I was looking at a picture of a person I know well recently. He is not young in his body. But there is a youthful spirit in his life. Compared to those around him in the picture he had an effervescence that was not with them. Some of the latter are what we might call ‘dormant.’ Others, no matter how active they may be are what we might call ‘dead men walking.’
‘Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them’ Matt 13.12 NIV.
How to explain. The man in the picture was a ‘Christ is my life’ person. He lived from Jesus and not from the stuff. He lived entirely in the spirit without any dulling additive from religion. Unimpeded by such insulations (strangulations) and veils he lived in a degree of encounter that is available to all but enjoyed by few.
In medieval times this ‘glow’ of life would have been depicted as a halo. The paradox is that halos are invisible but they can be seen – if we are living in the same realm. But there is no elite in the Kingdom of God. However, there are those who enjoy more of their inheritance. They have more because they have sought it out; run after it, dug it out of the ground, clutched it and have a greater degree of spirit and life as a result. Those who eat Jesus live His life because of Him. Those who eat and drink Jesus are alive with His spirit and life. It does not mean they have perfect characters. It means they are life-giving spirits and something more than normal human-beings.
‘The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you--they are full of the Spirit and life’ John 6.63 NIV.
WILL HAVE MORE
In the Kingdom ‘God- greedy’ people get more – more or God and consequently more of spirit and life. They are not ‘better’ people as in some kind of an elite. But they do have more of what is on offer to us all: Spirit and life. One can fill an opportunity with a talk. Or we can speak words of spirit and life because we and Father are one – one because we live in our new covenant inheritance and do not live in the needless separation brought on by adherence to law and old covenant mindset.
There is a re-birth we can enjoy this side of heaven. If we are alive to life and not semi-comatose in our religion, we can break through this coma to the reality of this ultra-life in the present. Our life in Jesus is not just an encounter. It is union with God. This can belong to all if we are willing to go beyond packaged religion, institutional conformity and learned veils that insulate us from union with God and prevent the interweaving of His being with our own.
Richard Rohr writes, “Too often, however, we do not allow the events and experiences of life to teach us the habit of grace. What we have instead, and mass produced in our society, are what I call “liminoid” experiences. Our society has mass produced these as substitutes for liminal experiences. They look like a movement out of our cozy space, but aren’t. “I have to get away from it. I’m going to the beach for two weeks,” people say. When we see people come back, they’re not refreshed at all. They have the same old agenda, the same old fears, the same old anger. They let go of nothing at the beach. Their way of looking hasn’t changed, so neither has their agenda. Their way of feeling and responding to reality is exactly the same. Maybe they got some good sleep, and that’s good for a while, but three days after the vacation they’ll be just like they were before. Then they’ll need another vacation.” (1) They are just like people who grasp at the anointing of holy Spirit or some other novel key. But when done with it they revert back to the same old covenant, the same separated existence and the same old husks of law-bound living.
We can see the hind-parts of God in religion. In a ‘Christian Routine’ we glimpse the shadow of God. In a ‘liminal life’ reality penetrates us and we merge with reality. This reality is Christ and we and Father become one. Here we become sons of God instead of giving talks on sonship. This genuine life in the Spirit where we do better than offering up something and nothing to fill a religious opportunity.
By ‘liminal’ Rohr means a way of knowing ourselves and our experiences as for more than a surface superficiality. He is speaking of a greater reality that engulfs our deep being and the fullness of our person – like another baptism in which we lose ourselves by sinking into the deep of God and rising into the air to be a resurrected version of our former selves. Sons and daughters have a characteristic lightness; a joyful quality of life in the Spirit that defies circumstances and the motions of the religious. The life they emit in spirit and power has nothing to do with the embellishments of religion or learned theology. It is entirely to do with life to the full. Unhindered by any form of lie they live and share undiluted life!
HALF LIVES/HALF GOSPEL
Rohr’s description of ‘liminoid’ experiences is a picture of what can pass for a religious experience in old covenant mode. Like enjoying and encounter with God in praise and worship at church, yet living our weekday life in the illusion of separation. Or experiencing some of the gifts of the Spirit, yet remaining rooted in our old covenant culture of law and separation. Or having moderate skill as a theologian yet being largely a dead man talking.
In Jesus Christ we have been bound into God by His cross and resurrection and by the entering into our being of Jesus Himself in incarnated union. But more than this, the ground of our being is that we are one with Christ. We are in union with the God and the trinity have taken up residence in our bodies. We access spirit and life in abundance simply by agreeing that it is ours and embracing the reality that God is literally in us and with us.
The presence is here when it is hidden and when it’s not. We can live our lives as pools in the dessert or as rivers of living water.
As exciting and needful as the gifts, the manifest presence and healings may be, the reality and basis of our sonship is union with God. By living in this reality we are continually filled with the Presence and our being is ignited with His spirit and life. In this state we are positioned to be channels of the Spirit without limit, emitting not drops but rivers of spirit and life. When Christ is our life we are life.
(1) Rohr, Richard. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (pp. 53-54). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.